Heating pads are a tried and tested solution to easing muscle pain. Whether you suffer from a chronic pain condition or you have just overdone it at the gym, heating pads can ease your suffering and are a useful alternative to medication without the negative side effects and complications. Available in many shapes and sizes with both microwavable and electrically heated options, there’s a heating pad to suit everyone no matter which part of your body is causing you pain. The warmth helps to relax the muscles and promote blood flow, decreasing inflammation and easing discomfort quickly.

If you feel that you could benefit from a heating pad, check out our top heating pad reviews below. We have scoured the market to find the very best heating pads, so you can finally get relief from those troublesome aches and pains. If you’ve never used a heating pad before, don’t worry; we have also included a detailed heating pad buying guide and FAQ section towards the end of this article, to help you decide which type of heating pad is best for you.

  • Heats up fast
  • Large 12” x 24” size
  • Choice of three heat settings
  • Machine washable
  • Can be used dry or moist
  • Lifetime guarantee

  • Can be used hot or cold
  • Contours to your body
  • 100% natural aromatherapy herbal blend
  • Heats up rapidly in microwave
  • Ultra-soft, cozy plush fabric

  • Pack of four
  • Air-activated heat wraps
  • X-shaped design for adhesion and all-day flexibility
  • Up to eight hours of low-level heat
  • Can be worn under clothing

  • Large size – 33” by 17”
  • 10 heat settings
  • Machine washable
  • Adjustable auto-off timer
  • Heats up fast
  • Great for back pain

  • Ergonomic design for lower back and abdomen
  • Therapeutic gel pack for cordless relief
  • Machine washable
  • Four heat settings
  • LED controller
  • Five-year warranty


1

Quick Navigation

Mighty Bliss

The Mighty Bliss is an excellent choice if you need a large, good-quality heating pad to soothe muscular cramps and pains. At 12” by 24”, the Mighty Bliss is large enough to relieve back or shoulder aches, while its three heat settings allow you to adjust the heat level to suit your pain and comfort levels. You can also use this pain relief heating pad either moist or dry for extra soothing where you need it. This heating pad is also conveniently machine washable. Simply detach the cord and control section and the soft fabric can be tossed in the washing machine, saving you the time and hassle of hand washing, unlike many other electric heating pads.

Complete with an unbeatable lifetime guarantee and a fast heat-up time, there are not many other electric heating pads for pain relief that can compare with the Mighty Bliss. There are a few downsides, though: the control button is a little sensitive, so you will have to be careful not to accidentally knock it while you’re using this heating pad. In addition, there are no ties to hold this heating pad around your arm or leg, so you’ll need to keep it in place yourself.

Pros

  • Heats up very fast
  • Size is perfect for treating large areas
  • Multiple heat settings allows you to choose the most comfortable
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used dry or moist for a variety of injuries
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • Sensitive control button
  • No ties to wrap around tightly

If you suffer from neck or shoulder discomfort, then this heat wrap by Sharper Image is an excellent way to relieve the pain and ease general tension and stress after a long day.

You can use this neck and shoulder wrap hot or cold. Simply place it in the microwave for rapid heat pain relief or chill it in the freezer for a cooling compress. The ultra-soft, cozy plush fabric contours to your body for optimum targeted pain relief, while the scented 100% natural aromatherapy herbal blend helps to simultaneously ease away stress and tension.

While this heat wrap is a great way to ease away the stresses of the day in your neck and shoulders, it is less useful for other aches and pains located elsewhere on your body. So, if you need a multi-area heat pad for muscle pain, then this is not going to be the right choice for your needs. You should also bear in mind that, as a non-electric heating pad, this heat wrap doesn’t hold heat as long as an electric version, losing heat and cooling down within an hour. In addition, it is not machine washable and may require replacing sooner than a washable heating pad.

Pros

  • Option of hot or cold treatment
  • Contours to your body for effective relief
  • 100% natural aromatherapy herbal blend helps to relax the muscles and mind
  • Heats up rapidly in microwave for quick treatment
  • Ultra-soft, cozy plush fabric feels comforting on the skin

Cons

  • Only suitable for neck and shoulder pain
  • Not machine washable
  • Heat doesn’t last very long


These popular heating pads by ThermaCare are ideal for relieving joint pain. If you cannot rest at home with a heat wrap, try one of these adhesive heat wraps for joint pain when out and about.

Their flexible X-shaped form with adhesive backing means you can wear them under your clothes for muscle and joint pain relief all day long, without them slipping or falling off. This makes them ideal heating pads for busy, active lifestyles. If you are often out of the house or away from home, you will appreciate their easy air-activation: simply open the heat wrap and it will heat up once exposed to the air with no electricity or heat source required. With a long eight-hour heat duration, these multi-purpose joint heatwraps are ideal for on-the-go muscle and joint pain relief.

While these multi-purpose heat wraps come as a box of four, they are single use only. The only other downside is that they can take up to 30 minutes to reach a therapeutic temperature, which isn’t ideal if you are in severe pain and need rapid pain relief. For day-long joint pain, however, ThermaCare heat wraps are a fantastic, multi-purpose option when you can’t stay at home and rest up.

Pros

  • Air-activated heat wraps require no wires or pre-heating
  • X-shaped design for easy adhesion and range of movement
  • Provides up to eight hours of low-level heating relief
  • Portable and can be used on-the-go
  • Discreet enough to be worn underneath clothing

Cons

  • Single-use only
  • Takes up to 30 minutes to fully heat up

Check out this XXX-Large Heating Pad if you are looking for a blanket-style heating pad to provide wrap-around comfort. Suitable for pain relief on any part of your body, this cozy, soft heating pad has a large 33” by 17” size.

Use it to relieve back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain – wherever you need heat to ease and soothe muscle aches and tension. With 10 heat settings this large heat pad heats up quickly and allows you to customize your level of heat to match your pain and comfort levels. As it is also machine washable, this electrical heating pad is an excellent choice that is made to last, so you can use it without worrying about perspiration or dirt.

The adjustable auto-off timer is an excellent feature that means you won’t have to worry about remembering to turn it off. With a maximum heat period of 90 minutes, though, you will need to remember to keep turning it back on if you need long periods of pain relief. In spite of its large size, you may still find that the bulky electrical connector gets in the way a little and the power cord could be longer, especially if you don’t have any nearby power outlets.

Pros

  • Extra large size for whole body warmth
  • Choice of 10 heat settings means you can adjust the temperature to your liking
  • Machine washable for simple cleaning
  • Auto-off safety timer switches off heat if you forget or fall asleep
  • Fast heat up for rapid relief

Cons

  • Maximum 90 minutes runtime
  • Bulky electrical connection
  • Short power cord

If you suffer from lower back pain, abdominal pain or menstrual cramps, try out this lumbar and abdominal heat pad by Pure Enrichment. The PureRelief heating pad has been ergonomically designed to fit closely around your abdomen for superior pain relief by applying heat directly where you need it. Use the adjustable straps to ensure a personalized fit for maximum efficacy. Thanks to the four heat settings with the easy to use LED controller, you can easily obtain a comfortable level of heat that is just right for your individual needs.

The PureRelief heating pad has the added bonus of coming with a therapeutic gel pad that you can heat up or cool down for cordless heating pad pain relief. This allows you to get on with your day without being tethered to a power outlet. It is also machine washable, for a longer lasting product lifespan.

While this heating pad is an excellent choice for relieving abdominal cramping and lower back pain, be aware that it is not suitable for all body shapes. In addition, while the two hour auto shut-off is extremely practical for short term pain relief if you are looking for a heating pad to use throughout the day or night, you’ll have to keep turning it on again every two hours.

Pros

  • Ergonomic shape fits closely to your lower back and abdomen
  • Cordless design allows you to get on with your day
  • Fully machine washable
  • Choice of four heat settings with easy-to-use LED controller
  • Adjustable straps enable the perfect fit

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger people
  • Have to switch back on after two hours

Comparison Chart

Mighty BlissSharper Image Neck and Shoulder WrapThermaCare Multi-Purpose Joint Pain HeatwrapsXXX-Large Heating PadPure Enrichment PureRelief Lumbar and Abdominal Heat Pad
Dimensions (in)20 x 248 x 8 x 42 x 5.7 x 4.933 x 1744.5 x 9.5
Machine WashableXX
Multiple Heat SettingsXX
MicrowavableXXXX
Ergonomic ShapeXX
Can be Used MoistXXXX
Pad TypePlug inMicrowavableSelf-heatingPlug inPlug in
Area of The BodyWhole BodyNeck & ShoulderWhole BodyWhole BodyLower Back
Weight 1.4lbs4lbs0.6 ounces1.6lbs2lbs
WarrantyLifetimeXXLifetime5-year

Buyer’s Guide:

Heating Pads

Whether you have a chronic painful condition or a minor sprain, everyone should have a heating pad that they can use when needed. Use your heating pad to relieve soreness after exercising or painful menstrual cramps. Injuries, arthritis and chronic conditions, as well as day to day stress and minor aches and pains, can all be soothed by the warmth of a heating pad. When you apply a heating pad to a painful area, the heat helps to dilate your blood vessels. This promotes blood flow which helps sore and tired muscles to relax and ease pain.

When you are looking for a heating pad for muscle pain relief, you’ll find that there are several different types available. Here’s a breakdown of the main types of heating pad that are available to ease muscular pain:

Single-use Heating Pads

Single-use heating pads are essential if you need pain relief from muscle aches on-the-go. Discrete and thin like a band aid, single-use heating pads are ideal for use throughout the day and can be worn under your clothing. As they are usually air-activated, you can use them away from home whenever you need to.

Corded Electrical Heating Pads

Perfect for relieving muscle pain and cramps at home, corded electrical heating pads provide you with essential pain relief. They are reusable and highly reliable providing you with a constant heat source for even severe muscle pain.

Gel Pack Heating Pads

Gel pack heating pads are useful for light muscle pain relief. They allow you much greater mobility than corded versions. Simply heat them up in a microwave and they will provide you with effective pain relief for several hours.

Multi-purpose Heating Pads

Some heating pads are designed for use on any part of your body. These multi-purpose pads are ideal for general aches and pains as well as providing soothing warmth in winter. If you are looking for an all-purpose heating pad, then a large blanket style heat pad will probably be the best choice as you can use it over large areas such as your back or wrap it around smaller areas such as your wrists.

Area-Specific Heating Pads

If you are suffering from a particular muscle ache, then you should look for a heating pad that is specifically designed for that particular part of your body, such as a shoulder and neck wrap, or a lower back wrap. This will ensure an even, optimal heat distribution and better pain relief.

Here are some of the main features that you should keep an eye out for when choosing the best heating pad for your muscular pain:

Dimensions

When you are choosing a new heating pad, make sure that its dimensions are suitable for the area you are looking to relieve. Large areas such as your back will require a larger heating pad. Some people choose to purchase extra large heating pads to use in the event of muscular aches and pains in any part of their body. You might also prefer to purchase a large heating pad to use in winter for added warmth and comfort. Smaller heating pads are preferable for more localized pain relief.

Shape

Depending on where you’re suffering from muscular pain, you may be better off with an ergonomically shaped heating pad that is specially designed for that particular area of your body. This will ensure that the heat is evenly applied and in close contact to the entire area. Heating pads are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes for all parts of your body, so if you suffer from muscle pain in a specific area you should make sure that your heating pad is of an optimum shape and size for that part of your body.

Reusable

If you regularly suffer from muscle pain, then a reusable heating pad makes a very cost effective form of pain relief. If you see adhesive, non-corded heating pads for on the go use, they are most probably single use only. Gel pack heating pads and corded heating pads are reusable and suitable for regular use.

Machine Washable

If you are looking for a new heating pad to ease your muscle pain, then you will probably benefit most from a machine washable heating pad. Heat causes perspiration, so with regular use your heating pad will become unpleasant to use if you cannot wash it. With time it is likely your heating pad will also become dirty, so it is much easier and more effective if you can simply put it in your washing machine rather than rinsing it out by hand.

Cord Length

Check the cord length of your heating pad before purchasing, then check the distance to your nearest power outlet where you think you’ll be using your heating pad the most. When you choose a heating pad with an appropriate length power cord you won’t have to worry about messing with power extensions, something that can be especially prohibitive if you are suffering from back, arm or shoulder pain.

Heat Settings

When you’re looking for the best heating pad for muscle cramps, check out the number of heat settings that are available. You probably won’t need a huge number of levels; however, you will need at least a choice of low, medium and high settings to ensure that you get the necessary amount of heat that you need to relieve your pain. As you recover, you may find that you make more use of the lower settings, while the higher settings may be more appropriate during more painful episodes.

Auto-off Function

For your safety, it is recommended that you choose a heating pad with an auto-off function. This will cause your heating pad to cut out at the end of a particular time duration. Some heating pads have a timer function that you can set, others just cut out after a specific amount of time such as 90 minutes, for example. If you would like a heating pad that lasts for as long as possible, check out the auto cut-off time before you purchase or be prepared to switch it back on after it has turned itself off.

Pros

  • Effective – Heating pads are an extremely effective form of muscle pain relief. They really do work and often provide superior relief to medication and other pain relief treatments. 
  • Fast – Heating pads provide fast relief from muscle cramps, aches and spasms. Once they have heated up, simply apply to the area that is painful for fast relief. Electrical corded heating pads can be effective within seconds for pain relief when you really need it.
  • Natural – No drugs, no side effects, no addictive properties, using a heating pad means you don’t experience any of the numerous problems caused by medication.  
  • Soothing – Applying a heating pad has an instantly soothing effect. Heat can also help you to feel sleepy and relaxed, which is ideal when you are suffering with muscle pain.  
  • Reusable Options – When you purchase a reusable heating pad, you are opting for an extremely cost-effective form of pain relief.
  • Convenient – Use your heating pad when you need to relax and ease your pain.

Cons

  • Restrict mobility – If you use a corded heating pad, you will need to stay near to a power outlet and to restrict your movement.
  • Single-use versions can be expensive – If you need to move about and go out, you may prefer to use more discreet single-use heating pads. Unfortunately, while these can be highly effective, the cost of using them on a daily basis soon adds up.
Heating Pads for Muscle Pain

Pros

  • Fast & effective
  • Natural pain relief
  • Convenient
  • Easy to use
  • Great for sports injuries and sprains

Cons

  • Corded versions restrict mobility during use
  • Single-use options can be expensive long-term

To help you to get to grips with purchasing the very best heating pad for your pain relief, here’s a selection of our most commonly asked heating pad questions.

  • Are heating pads safe to use during pregnancy?
  • Yes, you can safely use a heating pad during pregnancy, however, we recommend taking some precautions. It is important that you do not raise your core temperature, so you should restrict your heating pad usage to below 100 degrees F. Use your heating pad on localized areas for short durations, for around 15 minutes at a time. Some mothers-to-be prefer to place a towel between their heating pad and their bump when easing stomach and uterus stretching cramps.

  • Can I use a heating pad daily for muscle pain?
  • Yes, you can use a heating pad every day for help with muscle pain. However, if you experience muscle pain over a long period of time, you should consult with your physician to verify the root of the pain. While heating pads are an excellent way to relieve muscle pain, you should always get any underlying causes of pain checked out by a healthcare professional.

  • Is a heating pad for muscle pain beneficial for sciatica?
  • Heating pads are an essential part of treating muscle pain caused by sciatica. Using a combination of hot and cold treatments will help to effectively and efficiently ease your sciatica muscle pain. After the first few acute days of pain have passed, it is recommended that you use a heating pad to dilate the blood vessels and to stimulate the skin receptors so that the brain focuses less on your sciatica pain.

  • How long do heating pads for muscle pain last?
  • Most heating pads for muscle pain have a good product lifespan. Like any product, they all have a limit and their lifespan will also depend upon how often you use yours as well as the quality of the product itself. A good heating pad with light to moderate use should last for around a year or longer. If you are using your heating pad a lot you should expect to have to replace it much sooner. In terms of heat duration, most electrical heating pads for muscle pain relief have auto cut-off timers to ensure your safety when using your heating pad. This will also prevent you from leaving your heating pad on and forgetting to turn it off.

  • Can heating pads catch fire?
  • Older heating pads were notorious for catching fire, especially given their use in proximity to highly flammable materials such as blankets, bedding, and soft furnishings. New electrical heating pads, though, are designed to automatically cut off to prevent them from catching fire or starting to overheat. Even though it is highly unlikely that a modern heating pad could catch fire, any electrical heat sources must always be treated with caution and this is one of the reasons that the majority of heating pads feature an automatic cut-off function.

Final Thoughts

Heating pads are a fantastic, natural way to relieve muscle pain. Everyone should have a heating pad at home in case of a sudden ache or pain. If you suffer from any kind of painful condition, such as arthritis or menstrual cramps, then heating pads are a definite must-have pain relief treatment.

If you’re uncertain which heating pad is the best one to go for, we recommend the Mighty Bliss. This heating pad boasts generous dimensions, so you can use it anywhere on your body. It is also machine washable and features a choice of three different heat settings suitable for various intensities of pain. With its lifetime guarantee, you cannot go wrong with this highly popular heating pad.

If you’re after a budget heating pad for occasional use, then we’d recommend stocking up with a box of ThermaCare single-use heating pads. While they aren’t cost-effective in the long term, for occasional use they make an excellent choice. You can use them away from home thanks to their special air-activated heating and they are discrete and flexible making them easy to wear under your clothing.

No matter which heating pad you choose, these convenient and effective products are sure to help you to finally enjoy some relief from the discomfort caused by muscle pain.

Further Reading