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Heating Pad Questions and Answers

Young Woman Sleeping Peacefully — Apple Valley, MN — Corner Home Medical

When you hurt, consider turning to heat. Heating pads can soothe certain kinds of musculoskeletal aches and pains while also easing muscle spasms and nerve compression symptoms. However, different types of heating pads come with different sets of strengths, weaknesses, and safety considerations that users should follow.

Before you rush to buy and start using a heating pad, understand some key points about these medical devices so you can make the best choice for your needs and use your heating pad with confidence. Start by studying the following heating pad questions and answers.

1. How Do Heating Pads Work?

Heating pads come in several basic types, each of which operates on different principles. A standard electric heating pad consists of a cloth pad containing a series of insulated electric coils. When you plug the pad into an electrical outlet, the coils warm up to whatever heat level you select from the device’s controller.

Infrared heating pads also use electricity as their energy source. However, instead of depending on heated electric coils, these pads convert the electrical energy into infrared light. The thermal energy in this part of the light spectrum then heats the pad.

Non-electric heating pad options include chemical pads and pads filled with gels or liquids. Chemical heating pad products generate internal heat when you either expose them to air or manipulate them. Gel or liquid pads heat up quickly in the microwave. Some of these non-electric pads can adhere directly to your skin.

2. What Conditions Respond to Heating Pads?

Both heat therapy and cold therapy can prove useful for relieving pain, swelling, and inflammation, with doctors and therapists often recommending that patients alternate both methods for maximum relief. Heating pads work by relaxing tissues and boosting blood flow to the treated area, reducing pain and fluid buildup.

The relaxing, anti-inflammatory effects of heating pads can prove highly useful for easing the pain and stiffness of joint conditions such as arthritis. Heat therapy can also help tight muscles relax, reducing painful spasms. People who suffer from sciatica may find that heat therapy makes an effective follow-up to cold therapy for symptom relief.

3. How Should You Choose a Heating Pad?

Your choice of a heating pad will depend on the kind of health problem or symptoms you struggle with. For instance, if your skin tends to dry out easily, you may prefer a non-electric heating pad to an electric one. Electric heating pads deliver a dry heat that may worsen skin dehydration and irritate sensitive skin.

Utility will also factor into your choice of heating pad. If you need to keep your muscles warm and flexible while on the go, select a chemical or fluid-filled pad that you can stick inside your clothing. If you need longer-lasting performance and remain largely sedentary, you may find an electric pad more effective.

4. What Safety Considerations Should You Keep in Mind?

Any device that generates heat close to your body can pose potential dangers. A malfunctioning or misused electric heating pad can start a fire, while a non-electrical heating pad can burn your skin if you apply it incorrectly. However, you can enjoy these products safely as long as you follow some smart, simple rules.

Before you use an electric pad, look it over thoroughly for any signs of frayed wiring, exposed coils, or other damage that might make it a fire hazard. Also, avoid sleeping on a heating pad, which might malfunction before you can awaken and react. Always start at the lowest heat level.

Gel pads and chemical pads can burn you if you place them in direct contact with your skin. Instead, keep a layer of clothing between the pad and your body, or encase the pad in a cloth pouch before fitting it into your clothes. Don’t use either an electric or a non-electric pad on damaged skin.

Corner Home Medical can serve as your source for high-quality heating pads and other pain-relieving devices. Browse our online list of hot and cold therapy options to find the ideal solution for your particular symptoms or condition.