The Best Cheap Heating Pads of 2019
Heat therapy is an effective way to reduce muscle pain, particularly lower back pain.
That's one takeaway from this 2014 review published in Postgraduate Medicine. The article is worded carefully and makes no claims that heat therapy can aid recovery from a musculoskeletal injury, rather, that it only provides short-term pain relief.
Similarly, this 2014 clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research suggests that heat therapy, when paired with naproxen (Aleve), is more effective at reducing lower back pain than cold therapy (i.e. ice packs) and naproxen.
Heat therapy seems to have merit, but that doesn't mean an electric heating pad is the right tool for the job. Consider these hazards:
Heating pads and electric blankets cause almost 500 fires each year, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International;
A heating pad can cause burns over time, even on a low setting; and
Prolonged- or incorrect-use of a heating pad can cause erythema ab igne, a skin condition which can harbor cancerous cells.
Heating pads should never be used for more than 30 minutes in a session, nor should they be placed underneath a body part, according to safe-practice guidelines.
My two cents: Ask your doctor if he or she recommends an electric heating pad. If so, here are the best-reviewed heating pads that have sold for $30 or less in the last 12 months:
Avoiding Dangerously Cheap Products
I excluded well-reviewed pads from this list because Amazon customers posted credible photos of scorched fabric or melted power cords. These are good reasons to consider products with automatic shut-off timers and UL/ETL-listed power supplies. But, even the best heating pads are a fire hazard if used improperly.
Good Price: $30 | Great Deal: $25
This heating pad is large, soft and heats up quickly, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers say that the pad is hotter in the center than on its edges; others wish the pad was hotter.
Good Price: $21 | Great Deal: $15
Milliard's heating pad is large and heats quickly, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers say the pad doesn't get hot enough; others say that it gets too hot. Customers agree that the pad's cover slips off too easily and that having to unplug the pad to turn it off is annoying.
Good Price: $20 | Great Deal: $15
Fitfirst's heating pad is soft, large and it has a long cord, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers say it's easy to press the on/off switch by accident; some say the pad takes a while to warm up.
Good Price: $28 | Great Deal: $25
This plush heating pad is soft and comfortable, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers (even happy ones) say the pad gets warm, but not hot. Some customers like that the pad automatically shuts itself off after two hours of use, but other customers begrudge this safety feature.