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Neck and shoulder heating pads may help loosen stiff joints and ease muscle aches and pains. Most of these devices warm up quickly, helping alleviate soreness within minutes.
- Best for neck, back, and shoulder cover: Pure Enrichment PureRelief XL Heating Pad | Skip to Review
- Best for a weighted heating pad: Huggaroo Microwave Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders | Skip to Review
- Best for moist or dry heat: Sunbeam Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief | Skip to Review
- Best for a micro-glass bead filling: Comfytemp Weighted Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders | Skip to Review
- Best for a heated aromatherapy wrap: REVIX Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders | Skip to Review
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best for covering the neck, back, and shoulders: Pure Enrichment PureRelief XL Heating Pad
- Pricing: around $60
- Heat type: dry
- Cord length: over 7 feet (ft)
- Size: 29 x 24 inches (in)
- Who needs it: anyone looking for full back coverage in a heating pad
This large electronic heating pad covers the neck, shoulders, and the full length of the back. The company states it is fully adjustable and caters to most body shapes and sizes.
It features a velcro strap allowing a person to use the product hands-free. The velvety cover is machine washable.
In addition, it has four therapeutic heat settings ranging from 110–140°F (43.3–60°C) and an automatic shut-off feature.
The company provides a 5-year warranty.
- has an adjustable fit
- machine washable
- comes with a 5-year limited warranty
- reportedly shuts off quickly when on high heat settings
- the most expensive product on our list
- some reviewers found it did not fit well
Best for a weighted heating pad: Huggaroo Microwave Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders
- Pricing: around $35
- Heat type: moist
- Cord length: uncorded
- Size: 18 x 14 in with a 3.5 in collar
- Who needs it: those looking for a weighted, dual heat and cold therapy for sore joints and muscles
This weighted heating pad contains clay beads that retain heat for approximately 30 minutes. A person can heat the product by placing it in the microwave for around 90 seconds. It can provide heat therapy to the neck and shoulders.
The company claims that the product provides 10–15 minutes of deep heat and remains warm for an additional 10–15 minutes.
For additional heat, a person can increase the heating time in increments of 30 seconds for up to 4 minutes.
People can also chill the pad in the freezer and use it as a cold pack, making it a versatile option for people wanting to ease discomfort from sore joints and muscles.
Its fabric is a hypoallergenic, 100% polyester Minky fabric. Additionally, the company provides a 1-year manufacturing warranty.
- can provide both heat and cold therapy
- features a hypoallergenic cover and cordless design
- suitable for travel
- intense heat therapy will not last longer than 15 minutes
- some reviewers mention the beads fall out in the microwave
- some reviewers mention that the product is heavy and uncomfortable
Best for moist or dry heat: Sunbeam Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulder Pain Relief
- Pricing: around $50
- Heat type: dry and moist
- Cord length: 9 ft
- Size: 14 x 22 in
- Who needs it: Anyone looking for a comfortable and non-bulky heating pad.
This electric heating pad comes with a sponge that a person can moisten for moist heat therapy. It provides heat to the neck and shoulders.
The heating pad also has a rapid heating feature and four temperature settings. However, the company does not specify the temperature ranges for these.
The product features an automatic switch-off after 90 minutes for safety. It also has an adjustable neck collar with a magnetic clasp and weighted edges to keep the pad in place. It uses a soft, micro plush material that is machine washable.
It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
- has a rapid heating feature
- can provide dry or moist heat
- has a more lightweight design than other options
- has a machine-washable cover
- expensive in comparison with some competitors
- some reviewers report that the product does not stay hot for very long
- some reviewers comment on an unpleasant odor
Best for micro glass bead filling: Comfytemp Weighted Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders
- Pricing: around $50
- Heat type: dry
- Cord length: 9.5 ft
- Size: 19 x 22 in
- Who needs it: Anyone looking for an extra-weighted heating pad.
This electric heating pad features a micro glass bead filling. The company claims this may help a person relax by creating the feeling of being hugged or held.
The company says it uses a sewing technology that ensures the micro-glass beads have even distribution throughout the wrap. The cover is soft and machine-washable, and the wrap weighs 2.2 lb overall.
It features nine heat settings. However, the company does not specify the temperature ranges.
It has 11 automatic shut-off timers, ranging from 0.5 to 9 hours. The product also comes with a multifunctional controller with a backlight and countdown display.
The company offers a 5-year warranty, a 365-day free replacement policy, and a 90-day free returns period.
- nine different heat settings
- may promote relaxation
- 11 different timer settings to choose from
- generous warranty, replacement, and returns period
- expensive in comparison with some competitors
- some reviewers complain that the pad does not get hot enough
- does not specify its heat range
Best for a heated aromatherapy wrap: REVIX Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders
- Pricing: around $37
- Heat type: moist
- Cord length: uncorded
- Size: 19.6 x 7.75 in
- Who needs it: people who want a heating pad to promote relaxation
This microwaveable heat wrap contains a filling of natural products, including organic flaxseed, organic millet, and clay beads. It also contains lavender, chamomile, peppermint, and lemongrass to create a relaxing scent.
The product can deliver both heat and cold therapy to the neck and shoulders. A person needs to place it in the microwave or in the freezer before using it.
The cover is a soft Minky fabric, which the company claims is skin-friendly and durable enough to withstand frequent use. However, the fabric is not washable.
There is no information about the product’s warranty on its Amazon listing.
- contains natural filling, including organic flaxseed, millet, and a natural herb blend
- can provide either heat or cold therapy
- scented with lavender, chamomile, peppermint, and lemongrass for aromatherapy
- people may find this heating pad relaxing to use
- according to some reviews, the heat does not last for long
- some users may find the scent too strong
- no washable cover
The table below provides a snapshot of how the best neck and shoulder heating pads compare to each other.
|Price||Heating method||Temperature range||Type||Cord length|
|Pure Enrichment||around $60||electric||• four temperature settings|
• 110–140°F (43.3–60°C)
|full length of back, neck, and shoulders||over 7 ft|
|Hugaroo||around $35||microwave||no informational available||neck and shoulders||uncorded|
|Sunbeam||around $50||electric||four temperature settings||neck and shoulders||9 ft|
|Comfytemp||around $50||electric||nine temperature settings||upper back, neck, and shoulders||9.5 ft|
|REVIX||around $37||microwave||no information available||neck and shoulders||uncorded|
Medical News Today’s methodology
Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:
- Price: MNT will choose products available for a wide range of budgets.
- Features: MNT selectsproducts with useful features, such as an auto-shutoff, overheating protection mechanism, or adjustable straps.
- Suitability: MNTselectsproducts to suit a range of needs, such as portability and extra temperature functions.
In addition to safety features, a person may wish to consider the following before purchasing a heating pad:
- Heat type: Electronic neck and shoulder heating pads provide dry heat, while microwaveable heating pads produce moist heat.
- Cord length: People using electronic neck and shoulder heating pads should consider the product’s cord length. Those using pads with short cables may need to sit near a power outlet or purchase an extension cord.
- Size: A person may wish to review the product’s measurements and decide which product will best suit their body size.
- Temperature range: People may benefit from a product that has a wide range of adjustable heat settings. This is because people will have different needs at varying times. Additionally, some people may be able to withstand and benefit from a hotter temperature than others.
- Heating element type: There are two main types of heating elements: microwavable or electric. An electric heating pad may be more expensive and require the device to be plugged in while in use. They may have adjustable heat settings and some other smart features which can benefit an individual. However, a microwavable heat pad will be best for travel and movement but may not retain heat for as long. These microwavable pads can also usually double up as cold pads.
- Warranty: Before purchasing, a person should check to see if the company offers a warranty period. This would mean a person can receive a refund, replacement, or repair if the product has any defects or breaks within this warranty period.
Neck and shoulder heating pads are relatively safe products. However, they do pose some risks and require users to take precautions.
People should consider a product’s safety features, including:
- Temperature control: Most electric heating pads come with a temperature control function. People who use microwavable heating pads should take care when removing the product from the microwave to avoid burns.
- Automatic shut-off: People may consider purchasing an electronic neck and shoulder heating pad with an automated shut-off feature, which shuts off the device after a set time to minimize the risk of fire.
- Heat-resistant cover: Neck and shoulder heating pads include a material cover that serves as a buffer between the pad and the user’s skin to prevent scalding.
Anyone experiencing chronic neck and shoulder pain should consider seeing a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
People may consider other products for relieving neck and shoulder pain, including:
- neck or shoulder massagers
- cervical neck pillows
- topical analgesic creams
- cooling gels and sprays
- herbal pain relief patches
A person may also wish to try a massage with a professional massage therapist.
Heat therapy helps to boost circulation, which increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this can help to loosen stiff joints and alleviate sore muscles.
Research from 2018 states that using heat or cold therapy alongside ibuprofen was mildly and immediately effective in reducing neck and back pain. However, this pain relief may be attributable to ibuprofen.
Importantly, people should not use heat therapy to replace more conventional forms of treatment. A person should talk with a doctor about any long-term aches or pains and whether heat or cold therapy will be more suitable.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about heating pads.
Is a heating pad good for neck and shoulder pain?
Heating pads boost circulation. This, in turn, increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues, easing pain and discomfort.
Most neck and shoulder heating pads warm up quickly and may help alleviate soreness within minutes.
Which is better for neck pain, heat or ice?
Both heat and ice can help to alleviate neck pain. Applying heat boosts circulation, helping to alleviate stiffness and soothe aching muscles. In contrast, applying cold reduces blood flow, helping to reduce swelling and associated pain following an injury.
A person can ask their doctor or pharmacist for further advice on which type of treatment is right for them.
Will a heating pad help my neck?
A heating pad that heats the neck can boost circulation in this area, helping to alleviate neck pain or discomfort.
Is a heating pad suitable for neck and shoulder pain?
Heating pads may help improve blood flow, relax muscles, and reduce pain in the neck and shoulders.
However, research into the benefits of heating pads specifically is limited.
Are neck heating pads safe?
Heating pads are generally safe. Many electric pads come with an automatic switch-off feature for safety reasons, and they do not heat up to dangerous temperatures.
People should not use heating pads with damaged wiring or on damaged skin. Pregnant people should speak with a doctor before using a heating pad.
For microwavable products, particularly, a person may be at risk of injury if the heat pad bursts or if the stitching comes undone. It is also more difficult to control the temperature with microwaveable products.
How long should a person leave a heating pad on the shoulder?
Advice varies on how long a person should leave a heating pad on their shoulders. However, leaving it on for around 20 minutes can help the muscles in the shoulder warm up and benefit from the heat. People should not use heat pads for longer than 20 minutes.
Neck and shoulder heating pads can help to loosen stiff joints in the upper body and alleviate sore muscles. People can choose between microwaveable heating pads offering moist heat or electric heating pads offering dry heat.
When choosing a heating pad, people may wish to consider various factors, including product size and adjustability, temperature control, and product cost.
A person should speak with their doctor if they are experiencing ongoing pain in their neck or shoulders. They may also wish to ask them if heat therapy or cold therapy would be more suitable as a treatment.