If you’ve ever suffered from back pain, you’ve likely looked to a heating pad to offer yourself a bit of temporary relief. Heating pads are used by medical professionals, like chiropractors and physical therapists, a part of back pain treatment (sometimes in tandem with a cream or ointment that alleviates pain), and these benefits can be enjoyed at home thanks to these handy devices.
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Best heating pads for back pain, at a glance:
- Best electronic heating pad: Pure Enrichment, 12’x24′ PureRelief Deluxe Heating Pad, $35
- Best cordless heating pad: Sunbeam, Cordless Heating Pad, $63
- Best large heating pad: Pure Enrichment, 20’x24′ PureRelief Ultra-Wide Heating Pad, $50
- Best heating pad for lower back pain: NeuroMD, Corrective Therapy Device® for Back Pain, $200
- Best portable heating pad: TRAKK, Cordless Heating Pad, $30
- Best weighted heating pad: Sharper Image, Calming Heat Massaging Weighted Heating Pad, $60
- Best heating pad on Amazon: Geniani, XL Heating Pad, $20
- Best heating packs: ThermaCare, Advanced Back Pain Relief HeatWraps, $30
- Best battery-operated heating pad: ReAthlete, UPHEAT Weighted Pad, $130
- Best infrared heating pad: Gravity Blankets, MiHIGH Weighted Infrared Heat Pad, $149
But, with so many to choose from, what’s the best heating pad for back pain, specifically? That will depend on where your pain is located, and ultimately, the underlying cause of your muscle pain and soreness. “If you’re having pain, it’s best to see your PCP or physical therapist for a full evaluation,” advises American Physical Therapists Association spokesperson Dr. Monique Caruth, DPT. “They can develop a treatment program unique to each person’s pain issues. Heat treatment may be used to help relieve pain, but it is superficial and should be used as part of a larger treatment program.”
While a heating pad won’t cure your underlying back issues, if you have them, our experts agreed that using one can reduce pain and relax muscles. “Heating pads are often used by chiropractors to enhance the therapeutic benefit of a session,” says Dr. Karen Erickson, DC, a member of the American Chiropractic Association. “When applied to the affected area, heating pads increase the temperature of the tissues, leading to several physiological responses that contribute to pain relief and muscle relaxation.”
Read on to see our list of expert-approved products that we consider to be the best heating pads for back pain relief, which span a wide range of price points, shapes, sizes, and heat delivery methods.
10 best heating pads for back pain
Best electronic heating pad:
Pure Enrichment, 12’x24′ PureRelief Deluxe Heating Pad, — $35.00
Electric heating pads are among the most common types, and we love this one for its relatively low price, simple design, and ideal shape. This particular heating pad measures 12” by 24”, is sold in three colors, and it’s machine washable for easy, ongoing use. It plugs into an electric power source from a nine-foot cord, and comes with an ergonomically designed LED controller to help you adjust the four heat settings. You can also choose between dry heat and moist heat delivery options, the former of which can provided especially effective heat delivery to sore muscles. “Moist heat pads enhance heat penetration and are valuable for alleviating muscle stiffness,” Dr. Erickson says.
Measurements: 12” x 24”
- Moist and dry heat options
- Great quality for the cost
- Not great for localized pain
- Must plug it in to use it
Best cordless heating pad:
Sunbeam, Cordless Heating Pad — $63.00
Cordless heating pads are ideal for anyone seeking relief from back pain and muscle soreness on the go. This lithium-ion battery-powered model measures 9.5” by 12”, and can run for up to four hours on one charge when it’s kept on the lowest of its three heat settings. It heats up fast, in 30 seconds to be exact, and comes with an adjustable band that allows you to wear it around your back, neck, arms, or legs.
Measurements: 9.5” x 12”
Care: Hand-wash (spot clean)
- Heats up quickly
- Only holds a charge for four hours
Best large heating pad:
Pure Enrichment, 20’x24′ PureRelief Ultra-Wide Heating Pad — $50.00
If your back pain isn’t isolated to only the upper or lower muscles, then a large heating pad can help you find relief in one sitting. This extra-large model is wide—60% wider than most standard heating pads, and comes with six heating options ranging from 105° to 140° to help you deliver the right amount of heat to those sore areas that are causing you discomfort. It’s covered in super-soft micro plush fabric for a gentle feel, and automatically shuts off after two hours, so it’s the perfect pad for using before bed.
Measurements: 20” x 24”
- Extra large size
- Very high heat options
- Soft fabric
- Comes in four colors
- Lowest heat is still pretty hot
- Needs an electrical outlet to work
Best heating pad for lower back pain:
NeuroMD, Corrective Therapy Device® for Back Pain — $200.00
Originally $400, on sale for $200
Discomfort in the lower back is very common among a number of adults, and finding a heating pad that’s designed to target those sore muscles and rest right on top of them can be a welcome convenience for anyone seeking relief. This option uses electric NMES currents to deliver relief to tight and sore muscles. Unlike the traditional heating pad, this is more of an at-home treatment option for alleviating pain over the course of several weeks (14, to be exact.) It is wireless and fully rechargeable, and comes with a 60-day trial so you can see if it delivers the results you’re seeking.
Care: Wipe down by hand
- Effective form of pain relief
- Good for chronic pain management
- Fully rechargeable and wireless
- Allows you to go about your day while wearing the device
- FSA and HSA eligible
- Isn’t very relaxing
- Pretty pricey, even with a 50 percent discount
Best portable heating pad:
TRAKK, Cordless Heating Pad — $70.00
Similar to the cordless heating pad listed above, this portable heating pad is battery-operated for muscle pain relief anywhere you go. This particular model also comes with four built-in massagers in addition to a heating function, which can alleviate tension. It’s designed to wrap around the body, including the lower back, legs, abdomen, and arms, and the strap measures 58 inches long to fit many bodies. You can adjust this heating pad to fit your exact needs, and comes with three massage settings, two intensity settings, and two heat settings.
Measurements: 58” across
- Heats and massages at the same time
- Cordless and portable
- Has a built-in massager
- Strap may not fit around all body types
Best weighted heating pad:
Sharper Image, Calming Heat Massaging Weighted Heating Pad — $60.00
What’s the best part of a massage? The pressure. You can get a similar experience with a weighted heating pad like this one, which is lightly weighted with clay beads that rest at just the perfect places, adjusting to your body. It comes with an extra-long nine-foot long cord, and is fitted with a controller that lets you choose from three heat settings and three massage settings until you find the best relief options for your back pain. Like many of the heating pads on this list, it does automatically shut off after two hours.
Measurements: 24.59”x 13.78” x .59”
Care: Spot clean
- Weighted for extra comfort
- Tons of settings to choose from
- Have to use an electrical outlet during use
Best heating pad on Amazon:
Geniani, XL Heating Pad — $20.00
If you’re looking to make a great heating pad purchase on Amazon, this highly-rated option is a great one to consider. It’s sold in three sizes and is available in four colors, any of which are machine washable for easy cleaning. The surface of the heating pad measures 12” by 24”, and it gives you three heat settings to choose from. The cord on this pad is the longest so far, measuring 10 feet, and the product is covered under a three-year warranty.
Measurements: 12” x 24”
- 10-foot long cord
- Lots of color and size options to choose from
- Auto shut-off may be annoying if you intend to use it for a long period of time
Best heating packs:
ThermaCare, Advanced Back Pain Relief HeatWraps — $30.00
Looking for the benefits of heat therapy without the cost or bulkiness of an actual heating pad? You may want to try heat packs, like these from Thermacare. These work by sticking to your skin, where they deliver long-lasting heat relief for up to eight hours with no charging or batteries required (just open the pouch and the air-activated patches will get to work.) This particular variety of heat backs is designed to wrap around the waist for relieving soreness in the lower back and hip muscles.
- No charging, plugging, or batteries required
- If left on too long, it can injure the skin
- May take up to 30 minutes to warm up
Best battery-operated heating pad:
ReAthlete, UPHEAT Weighted Pad — $130.00
Many heating pads on this list are battery-operated, and we consider this one the best of that bunch for its versatility and ability to deliver heat evenly thanks to its composite fiber wiring design. This 2.2-pound weighted heating pad holds 14 jade stones inside of it, which retain heat and deliver those benefits to sore muscles. It’s rechargeable and comes with a power bank, so there’s no need to plug it in. You can spray the surface with water for a moist heat delivery option, fit it over just about any area of the body in need of some soreness relief, and have three heat modes to choose from, ranging from 86° to 104°.
Measurements: 22.5″ × 12″ × .7″
- Wide range of temperatures
- Dry and moist heat delivery methods
- Stones may be uncomfortable for some people
- A bit pricey
Best infrared heating pad:
Gravity Blankets, MiHIGH Weighted Infrared Heat Pad — $149.00
Finally, this heating pad option uses FAR infrared heat to deliver temporary pain relief to sore areas, including the back. “Infrared heating pads utilize electromagnetic waves to penetrate deep into tissues, making them suitable for chronic conditions such as arthritis or muscle spasms,” says Erickson. This heating pad measures 12” by 24” and is covered in soft crystal velvet for a super comfortable feel that adds to the soothing experience. Inside the pad are tourmaline beads that retain heat and release it slowly over sore muscles. The temperatures range from 103° to 140°, and you can adjust the settings from a handheld controller.
Measurements: 12” x 24”
Care: Spot clean
- Soft velvet cover
- Slow-release beads
- Infrared heat soothes inflammation
- Lowest heat option is still pretty hot
- A bit pricey
Heating pad FAQs
Is it good to use a heating pad on a sore back?
Using a heating pad on a sore back is a go-to solution for most people, at least to start, but is it always a good idea? “Heating pads are often used by chiropractors to enhance the therapeutic benefit of a session. You can use heating pads at home to reduce pain and relax muscles,” says Dr. Erickson. “When applied to the affected area, heating pads increase the temperature of the tissues, leading to several physiological responses that contribute to pain relief and muscle relaxation.”
What is the best shape for a heating pad?
With an assortment of shape option on this list, which one is best for the back? According to the expert, when in doubt, keep it simple. “This will depend on where your pain is, but if it’s in your back, the standard rectangle shape will work,” says Dr. Caruth.
Is infrared heat better than a regular heating pad?
While most heating pads rely on electricity to deliver warm temps, some heating pads use infrared, or radiant, heat to get the job done. Often, these infrared heating pads will come with claims that this style of heat delivery is superior to the standard, but is it? “Speak to a healthcare professional to determine what is best for you based on your symptoms or condition and any existing medical issues,” Dr. Caruth suggests. “With both infrared heat and heating pads you need to be mindful of burns. Caution should be taken to make sure that there are layers of towels, etc between the skin and the heat/cold source. Also, skin should be monitored before and after, particularly if there are deficits in sensation.”
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