Infrared Heating Pad vs. Regular: Which is Best for Back Pain?

infrared heating pad vs. regular

There’s no doubt that using a heating pad for back pain is a great way to get dramatic back pain relief – without medication.

However, you may have noticed that far infrared heating pads are pricier than traditional electric heating pads. So, what’s the deal? Do these high-tech heating pads offer longer-lasting pain relief? Are they worth the investment?

Let’s find out!

Let’s take a look at the (major) differences between the regular electric heating pad and the far infrared heating pad, to help you make the best choice.

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Infrared Heating Pad vs. Regular Heating Pad

Heat SourceHeat PenetrationEMF radiationTemp. Range
Infrared Heating Pads
infrared heating pads
Raidiant heat
Carbon fibers
Jade/Amethyst/Tourmaline stones
Up to 5 cm penetrationLow EMFUp to 170 F
Consistent heat
Electric Heating Pads
electric heating pads
Conductive heat
2-3 mm penetrationHigh EMFUp to 150 F
Inconsistent heat

The regular heating pad that you can get from your local pharmacy uses electric wires to create heat. This type of heat penetrates a mere 2-3 mm and basically only warms your skin (and in some cases burns it).

The heat never reaches deep into your muscles, tissues, or organs. This is exactly why any pain relief you feel disappears the minute your pad is shut off.

On the other hand, the far-infrared heating pad uses natural jade stones or carbon fibers to emit infrared rays, which penetrate much deeper into your body – all the way to your muscles, nerves, and bones. 

When far infrared waves penetrate through the skin it turns from light energy into heat energy.

Using a far-infrared heating pad for about 30 minutes can get you up to 6 hours of back pain relief – without any medication.

Plus, the deep penetrating infrared rays do not only relieve your pain, they actually increase blood circulation in your muscles and help your body heal the injured area – faster.

is infrared heating pad better than electric

Are Infrared Heating Pads Safe?

Infrared rays are a part of the Sun’s invisible spectrum. It can’t be seen but it can be felt as heat. They can’t burn you and are 100% safe for all living things.

Far infrared heating pads do not emit UV radiation at all and emit little to no EMF radiation. For example, the UTK highest EMF radiation is less than 1.5 mG:

are infrared heating pads safe

It is so safe in fact, that Far Infrared heat is used in many neonatal units.

Electric heating pads, on the other hand, produce something else other than heat. They produce an electromagnetic field (EMF).

All electric devices produce electromagnetic fields and by now most of us know how dangerous EMF radiation can be.

This is why you should not live in a house near high-voltage power lines. According to the EPA, these fields have been linked to leukemia, lymphomas, and other types of cancer.

If that’s not enough, just ask around and you will learn how many people have suffered skin burns caused by their heating pad.

Are Infrared Heating Pads Worth It?

While an electric heating pad has no other health benefits other than temporarily heating your skin, an infrared heating pad penetrates up to 4 cm into your tissues, boosts blood circulation which brings oxygen and healing nutrients, and emits almost no EMF radiation.

This results in the following benefits:

  • Long-lasting pain relief (see where to place a heating pad for sciatica, cramps, constipation, and more)
  • Reduction of arthritis pain
  • Increasing blood circulation (promoting a faster recovery and cleansing of your whole body)
  •  Helps to remove toxins in the body
  • Improves range of motion
  • Promotes stress relief and relaxation

Our conclusion is that infrared heating pads are definitely worth it. While they are a bit pricier than regular heating pads, they are more effective (infrared rays penetrate deeper), safer (lower EMF), include natural stones that emit negative ions, are weighted, and often have more versatile features and uses. Accordingly, they are more expensive.

See the list of studies at the bottom of the post.

Where Can You Get a Far Infrared Heating Pad?

You can use the healing benefits of far-infrared heat in the comfort of your own home.

All you have to do is find a high-quality infrared pad, of the size that fits you most (according to your body type) and choose whether you want it to use Jade stones or carbon fiber.

We’ve researched and found the 7 best far infrared heating pads for back pain, and our top pick for 2023 is still the UTK infrared heating pads, here’s why:

What’s the Best Far Infrared Heating Pad?

best far infrared heating pad for back pain

My UTK jade & tourmaline heating pad – view on Amazon

The UTK infrared heating pad contains Jade and Tourmaline stones, used to emit deep penetrating far-infrared rays and negative ions for stress relief. You can see our detailed  UTK Infrared Heating Pads Review to find the best size and type for your needs.

Infrared Heating Pads: A Game-Changer

Infrared heating pads are superior to regular ones in every aspect: they emit radiant heat that penetrates deeper into your body, they are safer, they allow for a greater temperature range and more consistent heat, and they allow for faster healing and recovery while being more energy efficient than regular heating pads.

They do cost more than regular heating pads, but the extra cost is worth every penny, and we’ve using this wonderful natural therapy for years with amazing results, such as getting back to activities we love, getting restful sleep, and walking around pain-free.

To your health and happiness,

The Back Pain Relief Products Team


Gale GD, Rothbart PJ, Li Y. Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Pain Res Manag. 2006;11(3):193-196. doi:10.1155/2006/876920

Stelian J, Gil I, Habot B, Rosenthal M, Abramovici I, Kutok N, Khahil A. Improvement of pain and disability in elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee treated with narrow-band light therapy. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 Jan;40(1):23-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1992.tb01824.x. PMID: 1727843.

Tsai SR, Hamblin MR. Biological effects and medical applications of infrared radiation. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2017;170:197-207. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2017.04.014

Meital James

Meital James, Founder and CEO of 4 healthy living blogs, has a background in Naturopathic medicine, research, journalism, and nutrition. Her blogs are the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and experience and all the posts are verified by scientific findings.

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