- Whether you’re looking for pain relief, relaxation, or a bit of both, you need a quality heating pad.
- The best ones are easy to use, comfortable, and have different temperature controls.
- The Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad heats up fast, has several functions, and is affordably priced.
Heating pads are effective for soothing different types of pain and can provide relief within minutes. Some uses for heating pads include relieving aches from sports injuries, gym workouts, mild arthritis, menstrual cramps, and general tightness from sitting in front of a desk for prolonged periods.
A common concern is that you’ll fall asleep with the heating pad on, increasing your risk of burns or skin irritation. To combat this, most heating pads automatically shut off, though you can sometimes override this feature. In addition, many have a variety of temperature settings to choose from.
If you’re concerned about pain relief, you’ll want to look at heating pads that provide moist and dry heat therapy. According to a 2015 BioMed Central study, heat therapy helps with blood flow and metabolism, helps to decrease muscle tension, and helps to improve range of motion.
Some heating pads qualify as eligible flex spending account (FSA) expenses, so if you have funds to use up, a heating pad is an option to consider.
Here are the best heating pads of 2021
- Best heating pad overall: Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad
- Best budget heating pad: Up & Up King Heating Pad
- Best for neck and shoulder pain relief: Pure Enrichment PureRelief Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad
- Best non-electric heating pad: Ohuhu XL Reusable Gel Pack for Hot & Cold Therapy
The Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad heats up in just 30 seconds, is budget-friendly, and has easy-to-use LED temperature controls.
Pros: Comes in two sizes, useful for dry or moist heat, auto shut-off feature, specifically alleviates pain from sore joints and muscles, easy-to-use LED temperature controls
Cons: The cord can get in the way
Warranty: Five-year limited warranty
When you’re in pain or want to soothe aches right away, you don’t want to wait around for your heating pad to warm up. The Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad heats up in just 30 seconds for fast relief from aches and pains. You’ll know when it’s ready to use with the pad’s built-in heat meter, which grows brighter as the 180 watt-powered heat increases. Sunbeam specifically recommends it for use on sore and achy joints and muscles. What’s more, this heating pad comes in large and extra-large sizes, so you’ll have enough to cover your spine or place it across your shoulders.
An LED controller makes it simple to set temperatures, keep track of the current temperature, and regulate time settings. You can also use the controller to switch between the six different heat settings and to power off the heating pad, which features an auto shut-off option.
For cleaning, remove the fabric pad and throw it in the washing machine.
The best budget heating pad
If you’re looking for an affordable heating pad that covers all the basics, consider the Up & Up King Heating Pad.
Pros: Useful for moist and dry heat therapy; large enough for use on the back, legs, arms, and shoulders; auto shut-off; four heat settings; machine-safe cover
Cons: May not be as strong as our other picks
Warranty: Three-year limited warranty
The Up & Up King Heating Pad has four heat settings, is flexible, and comes with a remote controller to make your pain relief customizable and consistent for moist and dry heat therapy.
It lives up to its name as being king-sized and can contour around the small of your back, your legs, arms, and shoulders. It has an auto shut-off after two hours, too, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it on if you fall asleep on the couch.
When you’re not using it, you can wash the cover in your washing machine, too.
The best for neck and shoulder pain relief
The Pure Enrichment PureRelief Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad is specifically contoured for your upper body and is aligned with plush micro-mink material.
Pros: Contoured for neck and shoulders, useful for dry or moist heat therapy, soft micro-mink material, four heat settings, long cord, auto shut-off, machine washable
Warranty: Five-year warranty on defective parts
If you’re feeling achy in your shoulder and neck area — likely from working at a desk for most of the day — you want a long, strip heating pad that will stay on your shoulders rather than the standard rectangle. The Pure Enrichment PureRelief Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad is specifically contoured for use around both upper body areas.
You can drape the heating pad around your shoulders and then securely fasten it around your neck to treat two problem areas at once. Built-in magnetic closures hold each end firmly in place, too.
There are four heat settings — ranging from 110 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit — all of which can be selected using the LED controller. It also has an auto shut-off feature after two hours of use and the fabric cover is machine-washable on the delicate cycle.
The best non-electric heating pad
If you lose power, or want the convenience of bringing a heating pad on the go, the Ohuhu XL Reusable Gel Pack for Hot & Cold Therapy is your best bet.
Pros: No power source needed; easy to use; portable; adjustable straps; great for those experiencing mild arthritis, sprains, and menstrual cramps
Cons: May not be as high-powered as our other picks
Electric cords can sometimes be annoying and keep you within a few feet of a power outlet. To really relax (and maybe even walk around your home), the Ohuhu XL Reusable Gel Pack for Hot & Cold Therapy provides the customization you need to alleviate sore muscles and joints — all without a plug-and-heat system.
It’s essentially a nylon ice pack that you can either pop into the refrigerator for two hours or heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds. The pad has adjustable elastic straps that effectively hug your body to target the root of the pain. This grab-and-go pain reliever is ideal for those suffering from mild arthritis, sprains, and menstrual cramps, too. And, it’s leak-proof, so it will last you for years.
Check out our other pain relief guides