Heating pads are a versatile and effective method for treating all kinds of back pain.  They can be used as a single solution, or can be combined with other treatment modalities to increase healing.

In this article we will be talking about heating pads for back pain.

Heating pads work by directing heat to an injured area.  Heat heals by increasing blood flow.  Increased blood flow brings additional oxygen and nutrients to an injured area, and removes toxins produced by injured muscles.

Heating pads work best on chronic pain, as acute injuries should be treated with cold for the first 24 hours.  Although the use of a heating pad is a simple treatment option, the choice of which heating pad to use is anything but simple.  Heating pads are available in all sizes and price ranges, with numerous options available.


Moist or Dry Heat

top 10 heating padsThe majority of heating pads provide dry heat.

For some conditions, moist heat is more effective than dry heat.

Some heating pads that provide moist heat use removable cloths, others draw moisture from the air.  Dry heat draws moisture away from the affected area, which offers relief to some, while moist heat is able to penetrate further into injured tissues.

Removable Cover

Some heating pads have removable, washable covers.  Others don’t have removable covers and are machine washable.

Some heating pads are cleaned using a damp cloth.  If you will be using your heating pad frequently, or sharing it with others, you will need an easy way to keep it clean.  If a cover isn’t included with a heating pad, covering the heating pad with a pillowcase or T-shirt may be an option.


There are heating pads with a simple “On/Off” switch, heating pads with multiple levels of heat, automatic on/off settings, etc.  Automatic-off settings are nice; you have the ability to “set it and forget it”.

Other heating pads do not maintain a constant temperature, so you have to repeatedly activate the heating mechanism.  Having a variety of temperature settings is advantageous to many users.


At the low end of the price range there are disposable heating patches.  The most well-known manufacturer of these is Thermacare.  Store brand heating patches are also available.  These are rather small, can be safely worn directly next to the skin, offer at least eight hours of warmth, and can be slept on, wrapped around joints, and worn discreetly under clothes.

High-end luxury heating pads with Infrared heat that can penetrate through 3 inches of bone are available from The Sharper Image at a cost of around $200.  Most heating pads fall in between these two extremes.  There are some important factors to consider when deciding which heating pad to purchase.

View our top 10 heating pads, here.


Some heating pads are not meant to be bent, folded, or lain on.  This is an important consideration if you are most comfortable using a heating pad in bed or on the couch.  In order to use many heating pads properly for back pain, you must lie on your side or stomach and try to place the controls in a location within reach.

Overall, your choice of heating pad for back pain, should be made with the following considerations:  how much pain relief you need, how often you will be using it, and what position you will be in while using it.