The Best Heating Pads For Neck & Shoulder Pain According To Experts & Redditors

by Chelsey Hamilton
Originally Published: 

Chronic pain in the neck and shoulders can be frustrating to deal with, but the good news is, using one of the best heating pads for neck and shoulder pain is a simple way to start feeling better. To learn more about neck and shoulder pain, I turned to Dr. Paul Cagle, a shoulder surgeon at Mount Sinai West in New York City. According to Dr. Cagle, the most common cause is inflammation of the muscles, tendons, or bursa (fluid-filled sacs between your muscles and bones) in this area. While usually not a cause for major concern, you should always check with your doctor about any new or lingering pain to rule out serious injuries or underlying medical conditions.

"Heat, as long as it's not too hot, is a great way to treat inflammation or soreness," Dr. Cagle notes, adding that anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and rest are also helpful remedies. Heating pads should be used periodically for 20 minutes at a time, says Dr. Cagle, and any time of day is fine. He specifically likes electric heating pads because of how easy they are to use and their safety features.

With recommendations in mind from Dr. Cagle and chronic pain Reddit threads, here's my list of the three best heating pads for isolated neck and shoulder pain. They're customizable, safe, and sure to give you some much-needed relief.


The Overall Best Heating Pad For Neck & Shoulder Pain: A Large Electric Option That Redditors Swear By

Sunbeam's XPressHeat electric heating pad is my top choice for a heating pad, all things considered. This king-sized option measures 12-by-24 inches, so it's a great choice if you prefer a heating pad that can cover larger areas of your body at once.

The XpressHeat technology means it'll heat up in as quickly as 30 seconds. It includes four customizable heat settings, a digital LED controller attachment and an auto shut-off feature for added safety. Even better, it has a soft, machine-washable cover and a 9-foot-long power cord, meaning you don't have to use it right near an outlet.

What fans say: Reddit user GreenThumbSeedling, who owns this king-sized Sunbeam pad, noted: "If your main requirements are staying on more than 2 hours and being really hot, my Sunbeam is amazing. It has 6 different heat settings and also heats up quickly."


A Microwavable Heating Pad That Can Also Be Frozen For Cold Therapy

If you're looking for a no-frills, cordless option that's portable and easy to take on the go, TheraPAQ's microwavable heating pad is your best choice.

This two-in-one pain relief pad is not only suitable for heat therapy, but it also works for cold therapy. It's filled with tiny, unscented clay beads that either give off moist heat after being put in the microwave or act as an ice pack after being stored in the freezer for a couple hours. The pad is smaller than other options on this list and is contoured to specifically hug the neck, shoulder, and upper back area for more targeted relief.

What fans say: Amazon reviewers gave this a 4.5-star rating, with one reviewer calling it "an absolute must-have in your toolbox for pain relief."


The Best Infrared Heat Therapy Option

Infrared heating pads work a bit differently (and tend to be pricier) than traditional heating pads, but they're known to be extremely effective — and this large infrared heating mat by UTK is no different.

This 26- by 16-inch mat uses jade and tourmaline to emit natural heat into your muscles without electricity. Infrared options are said to penetrate much deeper into muscles than other types of heating pads, so this is the best choice if you require stronger pain relief. UTK's mat comes with a digital controller that has six different heat levels and lets you store your favorite time and temperature settings. It also comes with an auto shut-off feature, a velcro body strap, and a zippered carrying case.

What fans say: Reddit user sigma_beta called infrared heating pads their favorite pain solution, writing that they're "bigger and keep you warmer all over" compared to electric heating pads.

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Paul J Cagle, Jr., MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopedics, at Mount Sinai

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