Back pain and muscle soreness are very common in life. Most can be relieved or treated with simple home treatment within a few weeks. Heat therapy is one of the most effective home treatments to relieve back pain, joint pain, and muscle aches. Because it increases circulation, and allows nutrients and oxygen to flow to the joints and muscles. This circulation improves back stiffness, inflammation, and repair of damaged muscles.
Heating pads are a type of electric mats that deliver heat therapy or thermotherapy and are used to relieve pain in the neck, back, muscles, and symptoms of arthritis. If you keep feeling cold in the back, legs, a heating pad will be more efficient than a blanket and can get you warm and cozy faster. You can combine both heating pads for maximum warmth.
Heating pads come in many sizes and most are electric. You can save money by looking at other options, such as microwavable or chemical heating pads. These are great for pain relief and simple maintenance.
Consider your specific needs before you decide which type of heating pad to buy. Are you looking for a simple boost in heat or fine control of the temperature? Our heating pad guide will help you find the right heating pad. This guide includes information about important features, as well as a listing of some of the best heating pads.
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What to Consider When Buying a Heating Pad?
Kids can use a heating pad to relieve growth pain on their legs. Adults can use it to relieve back pain, back stiffness, neck pain, shoulder soreness, and relax muscles after a long day. Women who often feel cold can use it to warm up in cold weather, soothing sore waist and stomach discomfort during periods. Seniors can use a heating pad to relieve symptoms such as arthritis and shoulder pain. Athletes can use heating pads to reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
Heating pad types
There are many heating pads on the market. Each one has its own pros and cons. Below are the differences between microwavable and electric heating pads.
Electric heating pads
These heating pads are the best option if you are suffering from a chronic condition that needs heat therapy. An electric heating pad may provide either dry heat or moist heat depending on the model. It usually comes in several temperature settings, that allow you to adjust the heat level to suit your needs.
The major drawback of an electric heating pad is that it is not cordless. It requires a wall outlet to work. Some models that have long power cords can provide a bit more convenience.
Microwavable heating pads
These heating pads can be warmed in the microwave, as the name implies. The microwavable heating pads can be filled with natural materials, such as wheat grain, or thermal microbeads. They heat up quickly in the microwave and can retain heat for several hours. These pards are extremely affordable.
This type of heating pad is suitable for those who need to relax or for occasional pain relief (e.g. menstrual cramps)
Chemical heating pads
Chemical heating pads are usually small and are used for the exact pain areas.
They are heated up by chemical reactions, such as shaking, breaking, or exposing the pad to the air. It takes about 20 minutes to fully heat these products. Once it has been heated, the chemical heating pad can be applied to your skin directly or to the outside of the first layer of clothing because it is portable. You can go anywhere when you use a chemical heating pad to relieve pain. These heating pads are easy to find in grocery stores.
However, chemical heating pads are a bit expensive, especially based on daily use, because they are not reusable. This also means that it is not eco-friendly. In addition, you can not adjust the temperature of a chemical heating pad like the electric heating pads.
Massage heating pads
These heating pads usually come in an integrated vibration motor. They can offer both vibration massage and heat to smooth your symptoms. Their temperature and vibration intensity is adjustable depending on the model. Massage heating pads tend to be wrapped around the waist with a belt. The vibration strength is not very powerful.
There are two main heat types for heating pads: dry heat, moist heat.
Most heating pads offer dry heat. This basically means that the heating pad heats up, but it isn’t moist or wet. Dry heat provides a greater degree of heat stability over a longer time period. Some people find it more convenient and simpler to use.
Some models can provide both dry and moist heat. Although the “moist heat function” varies from model to model, most products include a sponge that can moisten and be inserted into the pad.
Here are some differences between dry heat and moist heat:
Moist heat penetrates quicker and deeper under the skin than normal dry heat, such as electric heating pads or heat wraps, making it a good choice for muscle pain.
Some people find moist heat more effective than other pain relief methods. Because moisture increases tissue elasticity, there is less chance of skin irritation. Moist heat is less likely than dry heat to dehydrate the skin.
Women who are experiencing the aches and discomforts of pregnancy might want to use a heating pad. However, pregnant women should not raise their body temperature above 102.2°F. Experts agree that a heating pad can be used to temporarily raise the temperature of the body, but not the abdomen.
The purpose of the heating pad will determine how big it is. Heating pads can come in many sizes.
A small model(12″x14″) is sufficient if you need to treat a tiny problem area, such as wrist, knee, or neck, or you are only using it for relaxation or warming up.
If you wish to wrap your entire neck and back, you will need an extra-large size(24″x29″). This is also suitable for taller people.
A single-use chemical heating pad can be a great option for pain relief while on the move, such as at work.
When you are buying a heating pad for the family, it’s better to choose a larger one, which suits everyone.
Many electric heating pads are chosen because of their built-in auto-shutoff feature. This feature allows users to use the pad safely with no worry of overheating and catching fire. The heating pads can automatically shut off after a certain time, varying from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Though auto shut-off can be frustrating for some users. You can turn the pad back on if necessary. This feature significantly reduces the risk that you will catch fire, especially if your heating pad is used while you sleep.
Different people prefer different heat levels. 120°F maybe just warm to some people, but others may think it’s too hot.
There is no way to control the temperature of chemical and microwavable heating pads. But most electric heating pads have 3 to 6 temperature heat settings. Some high-end models even have more precise temperature controls.
To avoid burning, you will need a layer of material between your skin and the heating pad. It should be soft and comfortable if it is to be applied directly to your skin, such as fleece or flannel.
Some electric heating pads have a removable cover, so you can clean the cover in the washing machine regularly. If the cover is not removable, you can only spot clean the stains with a wet cloth. Put it in a cloth bag or t-shirt, use it over a towel, and keep it clean for as long as possible.
If you are looking for an electric heating pad, the length of your cord is very important. A short cord means that you will either need to be very close to the power socket or use an extension cord. A longer cord allows you to relax in any posture.
You don’t even need a cord if you use a microwavable, chemical heating pad. This would allow you to be more flexible during therapeutic sessions.
Is Heating Pad Machine Washable?
Regardless of the heating pad types, only the removable outer cover can be machine-washed or hand-washed. You can only put the heating pad or grain bag in a complete dry outer cover. The inner grain bag and electric pad should avoid water.
Chemical heating pads are not washable and reusable.
How to Use a Heating Pad Safely?
These tips will help you stay safe while using your heating pad.
If your heating pad doesn’t have an automatic shut-off feature, don’t fall asleep with your heating pad on.
Even if your heating pad has an auto-shutoff function, don’t use it over time.
Turn off the heating pad when it is too hot.
If you find frayed wires, charred areas, or burnt odor, stop using and replace the product.
Keep an eye on it while your kids or the seniors are using the heating pad.
Do not heat a microwavable heating pad for more than the prescribed time or at a higher temperature than recommended.
Heating pads should be kept away from highly combustible materials, especially when they are in the highest setting.
What Pains Should You Not Use A Heating Pad?
You should not heat treat some types of pain. This includes burns, new wounds, infections, or any other type of pain that causes inflammation. Cold may be helpful in relieving inflammation.
Can Pregnant Women Use A Heating Pad to Relieve Pain?
Yes. Pregnant women can use a heating pad to relieve pregnancy-related pains and aches in the back, hips, and joints. But should avoid using it around the abdomen, and should start with the lowest temperature and no more than 15 minutes. To avoid continuous overtime heating, it’s best to choose a microwavable heat pad or a hot water container. Don’t use a heating pad when you are sleepy.