6 Best Heating Pads for Back Pain 2018

Most of us associate heat with comfort and coziness, but when back pain is taking its toll on our activities and our sleep quality, heat can also be a source of relief. While not a miracle cure, it’s hard to argue against the benefits of the basic heating pad – especially when we consider that it is inexpensive, easy to use, done at home, non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive.

What You Should Know

Heat therapy for back pain is most effective when it is warm rather than hot since the heat needs to penetrate into the muscles rather than simply raising the temperature of the skin.

In most cases, the longer heat can be applied, the better, but duration should be based on the type and magnitude of pain you’re experiencing. For minor pain, use heat for short amounts of time (15 to 20 minutes). For more intense pain, longer sessions of heat are more effective (1-2 hours or more).

Let’s look at the top products in our Best Heating Pad for Back Pain guide.

Top 6 Heating Pads for Back Pain Chart

PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
1. ThermaCare Therapy HeatwrapsDry/Portable$$4.5
2. Sunbeam 2013-912 Xpress Heat MicroplushBoth/Electric$$$4.4
3. Sunbeam 938-511 Microplush King SizeDry/Electric$$$4.3
4. Sunbeam 732-500 King SizeDry/Electric$$4.3
5. Sunbeam 756-500 UltraHeatTechnologyDry/Electric$4.3
6. Chattanooga Theratherm Digital MoistMoist/Electric$$$$4.3

Buying Information for Heating Pads for Back Pain

To assist you in making the best product choice for your pain, it’s important to sort out heating pad terminology. There are basically two types of heat sources – portable or electric. And there are two types of heat – dry or moist. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

  • Portable Heat Sources. Stick on with adhesive, are worn like a belt, or are heated in the microwave and then placed on the point of pain. While they don’t provide an automatic turnoff option, they do afford maximum mobility and less chance of overheating the skin.
  • Electric Heat Source. Most plug-in electric heat sources are now programmable making it easy to adjust the temperature and maintain temperature consistency. They are all reusable and long lasting but cannot be worn while traveling or being active.
  • Moist Heat Versus Dry Heat. Dry heat is exactly what it sounds like. It comes from simple warming mechanisms with no moisture involved. Moist heat is produced when a heating unit draws moisture from the air and heats it. Many consumers prefer moist heat, saying that it provides better pain relief. Others prefer dry heat since it’s easier to apply and less messy.

While it may take some experimenting to find the product that is right for you, our Best Heating Pad for Back Pain guide includes all options – portable or electric, moist or dry.

3 Best Heating Pad for Back Pain Reviews

1. ThermaCare

Consumers consistently give ThermaCare portable heat therapy products high marks. While they may not be reusable or have adjustable settings, they are compact, fit easily in suitcases, purses or cars and can be worn discreetly underneath clothing.

With technology that starts the heating process when you open the package, this product is specially designed to fit your low back area and has a wrap-around, belt-like band so there is little slipping or sliding. It is flexible so nothing gets in the way of continued activity and most users reported that the heat lasts between 6 and 8 hours.

Be sure you choose a size that fits snugly since the product has to be in contact with your skin to provide optimal therapy.

2. Sunbeam 2013-912

Our #2 rated product is a traditional electric heating pad but integrates Sunbeam patent-pending technology that heats up the unit in only 30 seconds and there are 6 heat settings to choose from. The adjustable timing feature lets you customize heat therapy length and includes an automatic turn-off option.

The large 12×24 size ensures maximum coverage of your low back area and the digital LCD lets you easily see settings at night. The microplush cover feels soft and comfortable against your skin and it, along with the entire pad, is fully machine washable.

Most consumers give this heating pad high marks because it is pliable and conforms to the curves of your body. But its most outstanding feature is the option of dry heat or moist heat. With this product, you get the best of all possible worlds.

3. Sunbeam 938-511

Considering they have been ranked as one of the most trusted manufacturers of electronic products since 1897, it is no surprise that Sunbeam claimed 4 of the top 6 spots in our Beat Heating Pad for Back Pain guide.

Just consider this Sunbeam 938-511 model to be the younger brother of the #2 rated product above. It warms up in a more typical time frame of 2-4 minutes, has 4 heat settings rather than 6 and has an auto shut-off after 2 hours. But like the model above, it is 12×24, is soft and flexible, has moist or dry heat options, and the microplush cover and entire pad are fully machine washable.

The only negative reported by consumers about this heating pad is the cord because it attaches to the pad via a large VGA-type cable that is about 2 inches wide.