You know the score. One day you're doing fine and the next you wake up with a tightness in your back that only gets worse as the day goes on. Soon you can barely sit or stand without excruciating pain. The best heating pad for your back is what you need.
Look, I've been there. When that pain hits there's nothing to do except lie flat. I've tried the stretches, and the Advil, and the Voltaren gel. Nothing works, yet I would give anything to make the pain go away just a little bit.
Also, you need to remember that we are not doctors. And we're not giving you medical advice in any way. We're simply passing on information to you so you can make an informed decision. If you have serious back pain we strongly recommend that you go see your doctor.
That being said, back pain is often something that can be helped with heat, rest, and stretching. But, what else do you need to know?
Everything You Need to Know About Back Pain
Don't you just hate it when you can't move because of your back pain? It seriously impedes with your life. You can't work, you can't do chores around the house, and you can't play with your kids or grandkids. You can barely even sit at the dinner table! That's certainly no fun.
Why is that? What is causing all that pain in your back? Thankfully modern medical science has a few answers for us. As a result, we can take a logical approach to reduce back pain. Heat is one of those approaches.
What causes back pain?
Did you know that you can sprain your back? It's true! Back sprains make up the vast majority of back injuries in the U.S.
Now you're probably thinking that sounds horrible, but it's fairly common. A back sprain is when muscles and tendons tear or get twisted up. That usually happens after lifting something too heavy or turning the wrong way too quickly.
Also, disc degeneration is another common cause of back pain. You see, in your lower back you have these rubbery discs which work with your muscles and spine to allow you to bend over, stand straight, etc. And as we get older, these discs start to deteriorate. They stop cushioning the muscles in your back, and pain sets in when you overextend yourself. Likewise, these discs can become herniated or even burst.
Of course, there are a host of other, more serious back injuries. But all of those require medical attention and treatment. However, if you're dealing with a common back sprain, then fixing it is actually fairly simple. The best heating pads will go a long way towards that goal.
How heating pads help
Did you know that heat can penetrate several inches into your body and reduce swelling? Scientific studies have found that every degree centigrade adds a centimeter of penetration through tissue. So when you apply a heating pad to your sore back, the heat is going to go directly to your torn muscle.
But it's what the heat is doing that makes all the difference.
You see, when you injure your back, the tissue around the injured muscle or tendon swells. That puts pressure on all the surrounding muscles, discs, and nerves. That is why a sore back feels like it's tight. Heat relaxes that pressure by reducing the swelling. And while even the best heating pads won't fix a tear in your muscles, it will help keep that swelling down.
How to use a heating pad properly
You're probably thinking that using a heating pad is pretty straightforward. And you wouldn't be wrong. After all, you simply heat it up and put it on your back.
But not everybody knows that you shouldn't apply a heating pad directly to your skin. Instead, you should keep a shirt between the heat source and your back. Don't worry; the heat will easily penetrate the thin material of a cotton t-shirt.
Also, most people make their heat pad too hot. You don't need it that hot. Any amount of heat will reduce swelling. And remember that each degree adds a centimeter of penetration? Well, guess what? Your back muscles are less than a centimeter away. Instead, keep your heating pad warm, but not hot.
How We Reviewed
We wanted to find the best heating pad for you so you could make an informed decision. To do this, we reviewed dozens of options on Amazon. But not everything you can buy is worth buying. So we went through and discarded anything that was too small for your lower or upper back. Next, we got rid of anything which was too gimmicky.
For instance, there were plenty of "Shiatsu massage pads" which might give a nice massage but won't help your back at all.
Finally, we read through customer reviews to get a good idea of how these heating pads hold up in the real world. Anything that disappointed its customers was quickly discarded from our list. We were left with a great list of options, one of which will be the best heating pad for you.
The Best Heating Pad for Back Pain
So what is the best heating pad for back pain? The truth is that there is no single "best" heating pad. That's because everyone has different needs. Some people prefer a moist wrap while others require an electric heating pad. So what you really need to ask is "What is the best heating pad for me?"
Now you can focus in on the heating pad that will help you the most. A lot depends on the size of the area that requires heating. You must also take into consideration things such as price, and even the style of the heating pad. Everyone has their own preference.
To help you, we've got these heating pads to choose from.
Pure Enrichment PureRelief Lumbar & Abdominal Heat Pad
First up is a wrap-around heating pad for your lower back from Pure Enrichment. The Pure Enrichment PureRelief heat pad is easy to wear and simple to use.
Thanks to a four-setting electric heater, you can choose the warmth level that suits you best. But it also comes with a gel pack, so if you prefer to ice your back, that's an option. However, this doesn't work on the upper back or shoulders.
Amazon customers gave it a respectable 4.4 out of 5 stars. Almost every customer agreed that the pad fits comfortably. They also said the heat works wonders for their back. The only complaints involved shipping damage.
Sunny Bay Heat Wrap with Strap
Next is the Sunny Bay Heat Wrap with a strap to hold it on. This cozy padded heat wrap comes in a huge size so that it will cover most of your lower back right up to your should blades. It's 18 inches wide and 10 inches long.
If you don't like electric heating pads, then this might be the best heating pad for you. It's filled with flax seeds which, when microwaved, retain heat for over half an hour. The entire wrap is hand-stitched for accuracy, which is neat.
On Amazon, customers gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. One person called it the "Rolls-Royce of heating pads," and others also praised the look and feel of this wrap. Customers found it extremely comfortable.
Asani Electric Heat Pad
Next, we have the Asani Electric Heat Pad. This is a dry heat pad designed to target specific parts of your back. Also, thanks to a specialized warp-knit fabric, the pad heats up within seconds.
In addition, the pad is super-comfortable. You don't have to worry about itchiness thanks to the plush fabric covering it. It's like putting a warm towel on.
Amazon customers gave it 4.4 out of 5 stars. A lot of people praised the large size. It was able to cover the entire back for many customers! They also raved about how soft and comfortable it is to wear. There are three heat settings, and most people mentioned that the first two settings aren't warm enough. Also, many people reported that it stopped working after a couple of weeks.
HL HEALTHYLINE Far Infrared Heating Pad
Fourth on our list is the HL Healthyline Far Infrared Heating Pad. This heating pad is built in New York City and meets federal safety standards.
The pad is 20 inches by 20 inches and filled with tourmaline pebbles. The electric elements heat the pebbles, which direct heat energy right into your back. The pad itself doesn't look that pretty, but it works.
At least, that's what Amazon customers said. They gave it a whopping 4.7 out of 5 stars. Most customers praised it for being lightweight, and they said it works amazingly well. One person even claimed it's better than a standard heating pad at relieving back pain.
There wasn't a single customer complaint.
Home Comfort Microwaveable Heating Pad
Next up is the Home Comfort Microwaveable Heating Pad. We like this pad because it's stylish and comfortable. It looks more like a throw blanket you'd put on your sofa than a heating pad. Yet the quilted chambers hold heat-retaining beads which do a great job transferring heat to your back.
Furthermore, this pad is large. It's 19 inches by 17 inches, and you can use it as either a heating pad or an ice pack. Best of all, it comes in three different styles. Choose from blue and white checkers, black and white checkers, or a red and black lumberjack plaid. Neat!
Customers on Amazon gave it a healthy 4.1 out of 5 stars. A lot of people said it was simple, practical, and super-comfortable. Also, many customers praised it for staying warm for long periods of time. On the downside, a few people mentioned that it retains whatever smell is in your microwave, so if you made popcorn recently, your heating pad will smell like buttery popcorn.
SoftHeat Preferred Plus Heating pad
Finally, we have another towel-like heating pad. This time it's the SoftHeat Preferred Plus Heating Pad. The pad itself is comfortable and extremely flexible. You'll find it conforms to your body shape. A 10-foot electrical cord gives you plenty of wiggle room, as well.
We like that you can choose a moist heat or a dry heat. People have different needs. If you want to target one specific area of your back, then this is the best heating pad for you. It's only 24 inches long by 12 inches wide, so it won't cover your entire back. However, for blasting one sore area with heat it's perfect.
The average customer review on Amazon was 4.0 out of 5 stars. A lot of people praised the 24-inches of length, saying it was nice to wrap completely around them. Also, plenty of customers enjoyed the soft fabric cover, which they said was comfortable. Unfortunately, there were plenty of customers who complained that their unit stopped working after a month or two. With no warranty and no real customer service, they were left without a heating pad.
Some Thoughts to Leave With
Did you find the best heating pad for you? Whether you want a towel-like experience with the highly-reviewed Sunbeam electric heating pad, or you want a simple yet stylish heating pad like the Home Comfort, there's something here for you.
The most highly-rated heating pad on Amazon is the HealthyLine Far Infrared heating pad. Customers loved that thing. Unfortunately, it is small, so if you are a larger person, or you require all-back heating, it won't work for you.
Finally, remember that a doctor should look at any back pain which lasts for more than a day or two. You want to play it safe when it comes to your back.
Which one of these is the best heating pad for your back? Let us know in the comments!