How Long Should a Person Use a Heating Pad And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 4th, 2022

15-30 minutes is the exact answer.

The heating pad is a type of mat that is commonly used to relieve physical problems.

Photograph of a woman putting on an electric blanket to combat the pain of her back, Granada, Spain

About Heat therapy

Heat treatment promotes circulation by applying heat to certain areas of the body. It dilates blood vessels, relaxes tense muscles, and can aid in the elimination of lactic acid, which accumulates after muscle exercise. As a result, it’s best utilized to treat stiffness and discomfort induced by overexertion or postural issues.

In contrast to cold treatment, heat therapy can target individual muscle groups or the entire body. Two primary approaches may be taken: employing a moist heat source or a dry heat source.

Warm or hot water is used in moist heat treatment. This might imply submersion in hot or warm water or covering certain portions of the body with hot water-soaked fabric. Temperatures should never be high enough to cause skin damage—for water immersion; this is between 33°C and 38°C.

Dry heat treatment refers to procedures that keep the skin dry. It employs electric heating pads, hot water bottles, and chemical heat packs.

When utilizing dry heat therapy, take care not to burn the skin. Wrap the heat source in a thin cloth or other protective material to restrict the heat your skin is exposed to.

Heat treatment is effective for the majority of chronic muscle and joint pain. However, it should not be used for sprains or bruises since it will aggravate the condition of the wounded region.

The Advantages of Heat Therapy for Back Pain

Heat therapy is an excellent back pain treatment because it increases circulation, which allows nutrients and oxygen to reach joints and muscles. This circulation aids in the regeneration of injured muscles, the relief of inflammation, and the reduction of back stiffness.

Back pain can be relieved by using any heat treatment. On the other hand, heating pads are perfect since they are portable and handy. They’re also electric, so you may use them wherever you choose in your house, such as reclining in bed or sitting on the couch.

Baths that are hot or warm produce moist heat, which promotes circulation and reduces muscular pain and stiffness. If you feel pain or stiffness in other places of your body, a bath may help.

The issue with bathtubs is that it is difficult to stabilize the water temperature. That water will gradually cool.

On the other hand, heating pads have adjustable settings and give a constant flow of heat – for as long as the pad is switched on.

If you don’t have a heating pad, a warm shower or a soak in a hot tub might help ease back pain and stiffness. One advantage of a hot tub and shower over a bath is that it provides continuous heat, akin to a heating pad.

Thermotherapy is the method of alleviating pain with the use of heated pads. Heating pads are typically comprised of a variety of materials. We can make them at home as well. The sizes of the heating pads may also differ depending on their application. For pain treatment, heating pads are preferable to ice cubes.

How Long Should a Heating Pad Be Used?

In general, we need to use a heating pad dependent on the type of the heating pad and the discomfort we are feeling. Electric heating pads, chemical heating pads, microwave heating pads, handmade heating pads, and more forms of heating pads are available.

Chargers for electrical heating pads are included. Physiotherapists primarily utilize this sort of heating pad to treat their patients. These should not be overheated and should be free of shocks. Before utilizing the heating pad, a moist towel can be placed on it.

Chemical heating pads provide heat energy by assisting in the crystallization process. The heat pad is filled with liquid sodium acetate. A stainless steel disc starts the procedure in the heating pad.

When we press that disc, it pushes the liquid, causing the temperature to increase and the sodium acetate to solidify. It generates heat during this process.

Microwavable heating pads generate heat with moisture content by being placed in the microwave. As a result, these pads are filled with materials that preserve moisture content, such as wheat, rice, and so on. This sort of heating pad is often created at home. They may be created from a sock or a towel.

A hot water bottle may be used as a heating pad as well. The heat persists in the water bottles for a long time because of the high specific heat of the water. Another form of heating pad becoming increasingly dependable is phase-changing materials.

Purpose of using heating padsHow long can it be used (in minutes)
To avoid burns15-3o
Minor back pains15-20
Intense injuries30-120 or even more

Why would someone use a heating pad for so long?

When a heating pad is put on the body part that is to be treated, the heat from the pad is absorbed by that part.

As a result, the heat dilates the blood vessels, increasing blood flow. As a result, when blood flows swiftly, it immediately transports the necessary nutrients and oxygen to the damaged area. This procedure considerably aids in the healing process.

Most essential, do not use the heating pad at its maximum heat capacity. Because it has the potential to burn your skin. As a result, depending on the application, one should begin with low heat and gradually raise it.

However, it is best to use heating pads at a low temperature.

We should not use an electric heating pad for an extended period regularly. It can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, muscular damage, etc.

Its use, especially in pregnant women, can impact the fetus. People have died as a result of the usage of electric blankets, according to 2006 research.

The time it takes for a heating pad to heat up is determined by the material used. An electric pad typically charges in 5 to 15 minutes. They can be damaged and, in rare circumstances, lethal if overheated. As a result, it is also prudent not to overcharge them. Chemical pads, on the other hand, quickly heat up.

How to Safely Use a Heating Pad

Are you treating your discomfort with heat or rubs? If you find comfort in these products, you must understand how to utilize them responsibly.

Here are some guidelines for using a heating pad safely.

  • Sleeping with a heating pad may result in a burn.
  • Use a heating pad for no more than 15-30 minutes per hour.
  • Avoid heating numb regions if you’re using a heating pad on the part of your body where you don’t feel as much. You may not notice if you burn yourself if you can’t feel the heat as intensely.
  • Place cloths between the heating pad and your skin to limit the danger of burns.
  • Use topical rubs and ointments, such as BenGay, only after using a heating pad.
  • If your injury is acute (less than three days old), you should use ice instead of heat. Heat is good for persistent injuries or discomfort that has been present for longer than three days.

If you notice that your chronic pain is interfering with your usual functioning tasks, or if your acute injury does not improve with ice and rest, consult your local physician or physical therapist.


Heating pads are most beneficial when a person has slight and infrequent discomfort. Heating pads give immediate comfort with no effort.

You should also take them for a limited period because an expanded habit can lead to serious health problems. If a problem arises, it is best to visit a doctor as soon as possible.


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