Heating pads are probably the next best option after prescription medicines for treating muscle cramps and sores. Sometimes, they may even work better than actual medicines and ointments, which is why a lot of people love these handy little pads. Heat therapy has been around for quite some time now, and heating pads are available in many different styles and sizes. Some run on electricity, others need to be heated or frozen in the microwave/freezer, while there are a few that actually use built-in chemical compounds to start a reaction which builds up heat over time.
Below we have listed 4 of the best heating pads on the market right now, based on performance and customer feedback. Choose the pad based on the condition of your pain (acute or chronic), and the type of heat that you need. If you need a short burst of heat, then electric pads are a good idea. If you need natural, safe heat over a period of time, then choose a rice or corn pad. If you suffer from period cramps, then a chemical pad can come in handy since it can be activated anywhere, anytime.
My Heating Pad Hot & Cold Therapy Pack Pain Relief
With one side made from cotton and another side made from fleece, this 100% natural 2.5 pound rectangular heating pad feels extremely well made and stays hot longer than any other rice pad on the market. It is a well-made pad with rice filling inside, and is recommended for sore muscles, cramps, backaches, injuries, arthritis, tendinitis, stress, tension, etc.
You just have to put it inside the microwave for an hour, and it will retain the heat for about 5-7 hours. You can also keep it in the freezer to cool it. That can come in handy during the summer, or when you need an ice pad. The cotton side is meant for heating, while the fleece side is meant for cooling.
STAR BUDGET PICK
Sunbeam Heating Pad with UltraHeat Technology
This is one of the cheapest electric heating pads out there, and it comes with 3 different heat settings on the slider style control handle. The pad heats up within a few minutes and will stay hot for as long as current is passed through it. It is recommended for people who want bursts of heat for short periods of time, or for people who use heating pads inside the home at all times. It can help with muscle cramps incurred after an exercise session, arthritis, period cramps, sore backs, aches, etc.
The pad measures 12” x 15” and is machine washable. There are no safety features on it however, such as timers, so if you leave the pad on for too long with the max heat setting selected, it could result in injuries. Also, be careful while using this pad on wet towels, etc. as the manufacture has not said anything about its compatibility with wet heating.
Ultra Premium All Natural Microwavable Aromatherapy Heating Cooling Pads
This thyme pad from Sacksy is infused with aromatic compounds and uses thyme filler that retains heat for much longer than ordinary rice or corn pads. The filler is also composed of organic flax seed and cherry pit. The pad is made from cotton and is microwavable, and can retain heat for 7+ hours after an hour or two of heating in the microwave.
It will also keep you cool if put in a freezer, and measures a good 22” x 7.5” so it can be put around your belly or even cover your back. The large size means that you can use it for areas that normal small-medium sized rice and electric pads can heat. The filler compound is 100% natural and is infused with lavender, eucalyptus, lemon verbena, and cherry extracts.
Essencell Menstrual Cramp Relief Natural Heat Therapy Patches
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Of all the heating pads on this list, this one is the best pad for use in emergencies. It uses a chemical filler inside that reacts to generate thermal energy from within the pad. It comes in a pack of 5 patches, and each patch lasts for more than 10 hours. They have a packaging layer on top, and when you pull it off the chemical compounds inside the pad will get activated.
The base of each pad has a gluey surface that can stick on to your garments or inner-wear. These pads are perfect for period cramps, accidental muscle cramps, etc. They are meant for one-time use only, so you basically pull a strap out, use it to get 10 hours of soothing relief, and then dispose it. All the pads are infused with a nice smelling lavender scent.
Choosing the Best Heating Pad for Cramps
Here are the three major types of heat pads:
Grain and Fiber Based
These pads are basically pouches stuffed with grains and cereals such as rice, corn, etc. Some even use flax seed and thyme as the filler compound. The sack is made from soft linen, cotton, fleece, etc. These are designed to be heated inside microwaves, and are then applied on the affected area. They will stay warm for several hours and provide relief from chronic pains. These are also compatible with moist heating, although you can use them as dry heating pads.
Electric Heating Pads
These are powered by electricity and have heating elements inside that can be heated up by passing current through. Electric pads heat up faster than any other type of heating pad, and are also capable of generating the most heat. This also makes them more dangerous than the rest, since they can easily burn your skin if left on for too long. Some come with auto-shutoff to turn off the pad after a certain period of time when you set the timer.
Chemical Heating Pads
These are meant for one-time use only and use special reactive chemical compounds as filler, so when you activate the pad (usually activated by pulling off the cover or strap on top of the pad), these compounds begin a chemical reaction that generates heat over a period of time. The reaction process lasts anywhere between 5-9 hours, and will take 20-40 minutes in order to reach its full heating potential. After the reaction is over, the pad is thrown away.
How to Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Most women will experience menstrual cramps at some point in their lives. It generally affects younger women the most with most people finding that they don’t suffer as much as they get older. However, every one is different and there is no real way to be able to determine when you may start suffering with menstrual cramps.
There are over the counter medications available that can help treat the pain of menstrual cramps and you may also be offered prescription drugs if your pain is very severe. However, some people prefer to find more natural ways to treat the pain rather than relying on medication. There are several ways of dealing with menstrual cramps that a lot of people find work for them.
One of the most effective ways to treat menstrual cramps without taking pills is to use a heat pad. This can be applied to the abdominal area over clothes and the effects can be almost instant. You may also find that applying the heating pad to your lower back can also help with menstrual cramps. Heating pads are so effective because period pain is caused by the muscles in your uterus contracting which restricts blood flow to the muscles and it is this that makes the muscles hurt.
My Heating Pad Hot & Cold Therapy Pack Pain Relief
When heat is applied to these muscles they become more relaxed and the contractions are reduced. Heat pads will stay hot for a considerable length of time and so you can keep them on your stomach and back for quite a long time and you will still be able to feel their effects for a long time. This is usually long enough to relieve the pain altogether. There are heating pads available which you can strap around your waist and this makes it easier for you to carry on with your day to day life while you are on your period. If the pain is particularly bad at night then you may want to take a hot water bottle to bed with you.
Taking a Warm Bath
Relaxing in a warm bath can also help to alleviate the pain of menstrual cramps. It is not known exactly why this is the case but it is thought that just feeling more relaxed can help take some of the pain away. The bath should be as hot as you can stand because the feeling of heat on your skin can help with the pain. Putting the right kinds of products in your bath can also make a difference to the amount of pain that you feel.
Epsom salt is well recognized for it’s mineral properties which help to reduce inflammation and ease pain and you will find these properties even more useful when you are suffering from menstrual cramps. When it comes to the essential oils that you should add to your bath while you are menstruating then lavender and peppermint are often the best choices. The scent of the lavender can help you to feel more relaxed and less stressed. Peppermint is known to have pain relieving properties and can either be added to your bath or applied directly to your stomach.
Making Changes to Your Diet
There are certain foods which can promote inflammation and this may make any pain worse. Avoiding these foods around the the time of your period means that you may not suffer with as much pain. Foods such as red meat, dairy products, caffeine, salt and alcohol should all be avoided where possible. Many people find it hard to function without their morning coffee which will contain a lot of caffeine but you could try reducing the amount of coffee you use to make the drink or make sure that you only drink water for the rest of the day. Alcohol and salty foods can cause you to become dehydrated which will make the cramps worse and so excess amounts of these should not be consumed while you are on your period.
Exercising is also known to relieve menstrual cramps because it increases your blood flow. This does not have to be vigorous exercise, even just going on a short work can be enough to make you start to feel better. Sometimes if you are feeling really bad exercising can be the last thing that you want to do but it can really pay dividends in terms of managing your pain. If you do not feel up to leaving the house, then some simple yoga poses and stretches can also make a difference. Exercise also releases endorphins which will make you feel happier and more relaxed.
Many women experience bloating throughout their period due to water retention and this can make any pain worse. When you drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day the amount of water that you retain will reduce and this means that you will not experience as much bloating. Drinking water also has a number of benefits such as aiding digestion and improving the appearance of your skin and hair. Increasing your intake of calcium can also help with the pain from menstrual cramps and so you should also try to drink some milk alongside the water that you are consuming.
Wearing Looser Clothing
While this will not do anything as such to actually fight the pain that menstrual cramps cause it can help you to feel more comfortable and this can make the pain seem less severe. You generally want to avoid anything that is tight around your stomach and back so dresses are a good choice. If you do want to wear trousers or a skirt then look for ones with elasticated waist bands.
If you experience severe cramping during every period and this is has been going on for some time, then it may be worth making an appointment with your gynecologist to check that there is no underlying condition that is causing these cramps to be worse than usual. Severe cramps can be a symptom of several other more serious conditions and if they are causing you real problems every month then it makes sense to go and get yourself checked out.