Heat can help relieve a wide range of ailments, including muscle aches, cramps, back pain, and migraines. But the question always remains: how can it be delivered to the affected area? Microwavable heating pads are one of the safest and most convenient options — no scalding hot water or electricity required.
Keep reading to learn more about microwavable heating pads and how to find the best one for you. Our top choice is the Huggaroo Microwavable Heating Pad. We love its large size and effective relief for the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Considerations when choosing microwavable heating pads
You can find microwavable heating pads in a wide range of sizes, from compact to extra large. Choose carefully depending on where you intend to use yours. For example, if you want to drape your heating pad over your shoulders, it will need to be fairly large. If you're buying a heating pad for general use, rather than for a specific location, it's best to go big because a large option can work for small areas but not the other way around.
The majority of microwavable heating pads are square or rectangular. This is a versatile shape for all kinds of uses. However, you can find some rather non-standard shapes designed to contour to a specific area of the body. This is a great choice if you'll mainly be using your heating pad in one problem area.
All microwavable heating pads have a substance inside that can be warmed in the microwave to produce a moist heat. Natural materials are the most common filling, which include rice, wheat, cherry pits, flaxseed, and popcorn kernels. However, you can find some heating pads with a synthetic gel inside.
Microwavable heating pads are often infused with essential oils to provide aromatherapy while you target your pain or discomfort. Lavender is a common choice due to its relaxing properties, but it's by no means the only option. Anyone who's sensitive to smells or simply doesn't want a scented heating pad will be pleased to know there are plenty of unscented models available, too.
A quality heating pad should be flexible enough to mold to the contours of the area you're using it on. This direct contact will make the pain relief more effective.
If you're worried about your microwavable heating pad becoming dirty with regular use, choose a model that has a removable cover for cleaning. However, it's worth noting that a minute or two in the microwave will kill a fair amount of bacteria.
Inexpensive microwavable heating pads can cost less than $10, but they tend to be fairly small. The largest options are priced at about $40.
Q. Can I warm my microwave heating pad in a regular oven?
A. Microwavable heating pads are designed to be heated in microwave ovens only. If you attempt to heat one in a conventional oven, convection oven, or toaster oven, you could easily start a fire. If you don't own a microwave, a hot water bottle or electric heating pad would be more suitable.
Q. Are microwavable heating pads also suitable for cold applications?
A. It's fairly common for heating pads to double as cold packs suitable for icing injuries. However, this depends on the materials inside and other factors, so always check rather than just assuming. If your chosen heating pad can be used as a cold compress, it will need to be chilled in the fridge or the freezer.
Microwavable heating pads we recommend
Best of the best: Huggaroo's Microwavable Heating Pad
Our take: Specifically contoured to fit around the neck and shoulders, this model is ideal for anyone suffering from neck or back pain.
What we like: Tackles a large area. Can also be chilled in the freezer to use as a cold compress. Nice scent from herbal aromatherapy. Soft outer layer.
What we dislike: The shape makes it awkward to use on other body parts.
Best bang for your buck: My Heating Pad's Microwavable Hot Therapy Pack
Our take: An affordable and effective choice for general pain relief anywhere you might need it.
What we like: Decently sized. Weighted design provides soothing pressure. Choose from scented and unscented options. Nicely flexible.
What we dislike: Some buyers find the lavender-scented option too strong.
Choice 3: Sunny Bay's Microwavable Neck-Heating Wrap
Our take: While this option is designed to wrap fully around the neck, the long rectangular shape makes it suitable for use on most other body parts, too.
What we like: Well-made from quality materials and durable. Soft fleece finish is comfortable against the skin. Doubles as a cold compress.
What we dislike: Too heavy for some.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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