There are many different types of heating pads available.  There are electric, chemical, and microwavable. Within these categories are moist and dry heat options, and disposable/reusable options.

Hopefully this guide will help you select the proper heating pad for your needs.  You may even discover that you need more than one type.


Electric Heating Pads

There is a huge selection of electric heating pads available.  They come in small, medium, large, and extra-large.  They are available in both moist and dry heat options, have easy to use controls, and many have an auto-shut off feature.  Many come with washable covers, and warrantees.

Advantages: You can control how long you want to use the heating pad, and many have variable temperature settings.  They can be used over and over again as long as they are properly cared for.

Disadvantages:  The instructions of every electric heating pad state not to lie on it and not to use while sleeping.  This means that you have to lie on your side or your stomach to properly use an electric heating pad on your back.

Top 10 Extra Large Heating Pads

Microwavable Heating Pads

Microwavable heating pads are a hybrid of the disposable patches and the electrical pads.  Many of them do double duty as cooling pillows.  They are usually in a small pillow or packet form, and filled with gel, rice, or other heat-retaining material.  Simply pop them in the microwave and heat to the desired temperature, then apply to the affected area.

Advantages:  Once you figure out how long to heat the pack, there is virtually no risk of burning.  You can sleep while wearing them, they are inexpensive, and should last through several months of use.

Disadvantages:  You will only get about 20 minutes of heat, as the pack starts to cool down immediately.  There are often no adhesive tabs or straps, so the packs often slide out of place.

Chemical Heating Pads

Chemical heating pads are usually disposable.  They are available in both moist and dry heat formulations.  They are usually small and can be worn directly on the skin.  Be sure to read the instructions before use, though, as some models are meant to be placed on clothing over the painful area.

Advantages: These are small, heat up quickly, and can be worn while sleeping.  The moist heat heating patches last for two hours, while the dry heat patches last from 8 to twelve hours.  Because of the adhesive, they can be used on almost any body part. They can also be worn discretely under clothing, so you would be able to work with a sore back, instead of being at home with an electric heating pad.

Disadvantages:  They are not reusable.  To use these as your only source of heat therapy would be expensive.  The temperature is set, you cannot adjust it.  If one of the adhesive tabs is faulty, it will end up falling off.


As you can see, there are many different types of heating pads available to treat sore muscles and joints.  Many individuals will invest in a quality electric heating pad, and keep some disposable chemical heating packs in their desk, office, or bedside table.

All of the different types of heating pads mentioned are available in both moist and dry heat.  Moist heat goes deeper and works faster than dry heat.  You will probably have to experiment with different types of heating pads before you find the one, or ones, that fit your lifestyle.

You might also like: