4 Types of Heating Pads to Alleviate Your Pain

woman with heating pad on her head
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There are different types of heating pads available in stores today. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes—from small, medium, and large. They are available as dry heating pads or moist pads. With the wide variety of heating pads, it is important to choose the one that best suits the user’s needs and budget.

Heating pads are proven to be safe and effective devices for alleviating pain. This is backed up by published studies and medical experts. These pads immediately soothe tense muscles and stiff joints. Their benefits are so immense that they are widely used in hospitals and homes.

Types of Heating Pads

Because of their growing popularity, manufacturers have developed several kinds of heating pads that are suitable for particular uses and situations. The types of heating pads include microwavable, electric, chemical, and infrared heating pads.

1. Microwavable heating pads

Microwavable heating pads are made of non-flammable fabric filled with certain kinds of grains such as wheat and flax seeds or some kind of material that retains heat. They are simply popped inside the microwave to heat up to the desired temperature. They are available in many drugstores, online shops, and health and wellness stores.

The heat produced by the microwavable heating pads does not penetrate deeper than the skin level. This makes it a perfect source of comforting warmth during the winter. For a more soothing effect, the fillings (the grains or heat-retaining material) of these pads are sometimes enriched with essential oils.

2. Electric heating pads

The electric heating pads are the most commonly used and most conventional type. They are easily found in the market. These pads are straightforward to use and provide instant pain relief.

This type of heating pad is made of anti-flammable fabric that houses an electric coil. When plugged in or turned on, this coil heats up according to the user-defined temperature. Some electric heating pads come with controls and auto shut-off features.

Electric heating pads usually come in a size that is almost equal to a sheet of paper. It can be conveniently wrapped around the aching leg or shoulder. It can also be laid on the back to relieve lower back pains.

3. Chemical heating pads

The chemical heating pads are made of tiny metallic pieces and sodium acetate. It heats up when this metallic material presses against the sodium acetate, which leads to a crystallization process. The warming up process is quick, and the heat lasts for a few hours.

Most chemical heating pads are small in size, so they are easily wrapped or placed on the aching part. They usually require several layers of fabric to avoid direct contact with the skin. Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly to ensure a safe and effective way of using it.

Chemical heating pads are the most convenient ones, especially when traveling. They are lightweight, portable, and disposable. They can be re-used by submerging them into hot water or leaving them in room temperature.

4. Infrared heating pads

Infrared heating pads are probably the most effective ones. The heat penetrates deep into the skin to improve blood circulation. In fact, the heat reaches the soft muscle tissues to immediately relieve stiff muscles and aching tissues. These pads don’t cause skin burns or increase blood pressure, which are just a few reasons why most hospitals use them.

How do the infrared heating pads work? As the name implies, these pads use far infrared light to heat up. They have special carbon filters that give off infrared rays that, in turn, safely penetrate into the skin. They do not get exceedingly hot and can be used even at a minimal temperature.

Infrared heating pads are ideal for people with sensitive skin. They are widely used in hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, neonatal units, and other medical facilities.

Dry Heat versus Moist Heat

Particular models of heating pads are appropriate for either dry heat or moist heat therapy. Generally, the electric heating pads are used for dry heat therapy while steam towels and moist heating pads are used for moist heat therapy.

Dry Heat

The electric heating pads are convenient to use and have long-lasting quality. They are used as dry heat therapy, which often comes with a minor drawback. Dry heat therapy reduces skin moisture that leads to dry and dehydrated skin. Therefore, people with sensitive skin should limit or avoid using electric heating pads.

Moist heat

On the other hand, moist heat does not draw out moisture from the skin. It comes in various forms such as steam towels, hot baths, and moist heating pads. These pads help improve the elasticity of the muscle tissues. They are less likely to cause skin irritation or dehydration.

Moreover, moist heat penetrates deep into the skin. Because of this, it is more effective in healing the pain. In fact, various studies have claimed that moist heat is 30 times more effective than dry heat. It is excellent for aging patients and people with sensitive skin.

Safety Issues of Heating Pads

Although manufacturers claim that the heating pads are safe and effective, there are still certain issues. These issues can be as minor as getting the skin burned to as serious as being electrocuted. Improper use of heating pads is the major reason.

One major health concern regarding the use of heating pads is the electromagnetic field. It is the radiation produced by these pads. Some heating pads, though, produce a low level of electromagnetic field, so they pose minimal to zero health risks. However, some pads tend to emit a higher level of radiation, which could impair the immune system.

Heating pads, especially the electric types, can cause electrical shock and fire. That is why it is important to check the label and safety standards. The heating pad should be manufactured with proper research and high-quality materials.

Conclusion

Heating pads provide immediate relief to pain caused by injuries, stiff muscles, and aching tissues. Among the kinds of heating pads, the most convenient and easiest to use is the electric heating pad. Meanwhile, the most effective one is the infrared heating pad as it penetrates deep into the soft muscle tissues.

Regardless of the type and feature of the heating pad, it is important to use it properly. Many heating pads can cause electric shock or burn the skin. Buy heating pads from a trusted manufacturer that meets the safety standards.

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