The 4 Most Common Types of Heating Pads for Pain Relief

Heating pads are used to relieve aching muscles and to control pain. They can be great for muscle spasms and cramps. Not only are heating pads cost efficient, they are an organic alternative to medicine. Most heating pads can be ready to use in seconds and take hardly any energy to use. You can quickly reap the benefits of heating pads.

1. Microwavable heating pads

Microwavable heating pads - pickmyheatingpad.com

Microwavable heating pads are made of an anti-flammable fabric are are typically filled with a type of grain. Grains typically used are rice, barley and wheat. For an adding dose of relaxation, essential oils such as lavender or vanilla are dropped in with the grain. These types of heating pads can easily be made at home or purchased at a health and wellness store or website.

A pro to using a microwavable heating pad is that you have no risk of a fire since nothing is being used electrically. A con is that they aren’t always readily available because you must have a microwave handy in order to warm the heating pad. You also have no way of telling the temperature of the pad and determining how hot it is.

2. Chemical heating pads

Chemical heating pads - pickmyheatingpad.comChemical heating pads are great for on the go. When a small piece of metal is pressed, a chemical reacts, typically sodium acetate, and the heating pad begins to warm within seconds. This is the result of a crystallization process. These usually stay warm for up to a couple of hours. To reuse the pad, simply drop it in boiling water and bring it to room temperature again. This resubmereges the liquid and allows it to be ready for crystallization again. This can be done over and over.

A pro to the chemical heating pad is that it can be used over and over again. A con to this heating pad method is that it can be timely to have to boil the heating pad before it is able to be used again. Just like the microwavable heating pad, you have no way of telling the temperature of the chemical pad and determining how hot it is.

3. Electrical heating pads

electric heating pad - pickheatingpad.com

Electrical heating pads can be laid flat behind your back as you lay down. They can be wrapped around a shoulder or aching leg. About the size of a piece of paper and connected to a chord that plugs into the wall, electrical heating pads are probably the most standard type of heating pad. The outer layer is an anti-flammable cloth with a coil inside that warms from the electrical current when plugged in.

A pro to this method is that electrical heating pads require no work except to plug them in. And, they are ready in just a few seconds. However, the con to this method is that they must be plugged in so there is always a risk of forgetting to turn it off when finished being used. Most electrical heating pads have a sensor that turns off when the pad has been on for a large amount of time or gets too hot. This is a safe way to use an electrical heating pad since you should not use one when sleeping.

4. Hot Water Bottles

Hot Water Bottles - pickmyheatingpad.com

Hot Water Bottles are also a great method when electricity may not be available. The bottle is made of a thick rubber and has a nozzle on one end. Hot water bottles can hold anywhere up to about 64 ounces. To use a hot water bottle, first bring water to a boil. When the water is boiling, carefully pour into a hot water bottle. If it is too hot at first, you can wrap the bottle in a towel. Hot water bottles can stay warm for hours and can easily be placed on any area of the body.

Although it takes a while to boil the water for use (con), they stay warm for up to twelve hours (pro). However, just like the microwavable heating pad and the electrical heating pad, you have no way of determining how hot the hot water bottle is.

What is the best type of heating pad for back pain?

For back pain, I would recommend an electrical heating pad since it lies flat and the temperature can easily be controlled. They warm up quickly and can be used anywhere there is an electrical outlet nearby. Although most of them automatically shut off after a period of time, be sure not to fall asleep when using an electrical heating pad in order to prevent burns on the body or a fire.

When using heating pads, be sure that they are not too hot as to harm the skin or cause burns. Make sure that all proper directions are followed and that children are supervised when using them. If you do use an electrical heating pad, make sure that it is properly made and the chord does not to get hot that plugs the pad into the wall.


Madison Brown received her graduate degree from the University of Iowa from the physical therapy program. As a therapist for over five years, she has treated many patients with pain or with many physical problems. Through her experience she has learned more along the way how to best serve her patients. Her patients come into her office with all sorts of pain from head to toe. She has always made it her goal to know all the latest techniques and devices to best treat the patient in front of her. She cares about people and works for the best for her patients.

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