Infrared Heating Pad vs. Regular: What’s Best for Back Pain?

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

But why are far infrared heating pads more expensive than electric heating pads? do they relieve pain better? for longer?
electric heating pad compared with far infrared

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

Infrared Heating Pad vs. Regular Heating Pad

Heat SourceHeat PenetrationEMF radiationPain Relief
Infrared Heating Pads
infrared heating pads
Carbon fibers
Jade stones
Amethyst Stones
Tourmaline stones
Up to 5 cm penetrationLow EMFPain relief up to 6 hours after treatment
Electric Heating Pads
electric heating pads
Wires2-3 mm penetrationHigh EMFPain relief Until you turn it off
Comparing the differences between a regular heating pad and an infrared heating pad, according to heat penetration, EMF radiation, and heat delivery type.

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, as it did mine).

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.

infrared heating pads vs. regular

Safety of Infrared Heating Pads vs. Electric

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.

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.

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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.

👉 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 2022 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.

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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