Post image for Moist Heat Vs Dry Heat Therapy

Moist Heat Vs Dry Heat Therapy

There is a definitive better and worse in this debate but there is no definitive winner and loser.  That’s because while Moist Heat definitely delivers the best results, Dry Heat can be very effective and more mobile.  It’s really about using the combination of the two to get the very best self therapy results.

Heat is an effective tool when dealing with both acute and chronic injuries, it can sooth and relax muscles in addition to increasing circulation to the targeted area.  Where Moist Heat reigns supreme is in its ability to penetrate deeper into the muscles to relax tight muscles and increase circulation to the area through vasodilatation.

You can argue the effectiveness of Moist Heat even further when you realize that it is used everyday by Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Masseur’s,  and Sports Trainers to rehabilitate both athletes and patients with chronic injuries.  Moist Heat can be a hot bath, whirlpool, steamed towels or even a steam room.

Dry Heat is less effective but much more mobile especially in the form of the long lasting temporary heat patches.  There are many different brands available out in the market today.  I have tried a great variety of them and I’ve settled on the definite winner as the Thermacare Heatwraps, my particular favorite being the Neck, Wrist, and Shoulder model since it is very adaptable to different parts of your body and I use it mainly for my neck area.  It’s available in many local stores.  The Thermacare Heatwraps provided me with relief during the workday and was unobtrusive, nobody knew I was even wearing it.  I used it nearly everyday a few months after I separated my shoulder, ibuprofen did not even come close to providing the same relief.  It is not recommended that you wear it directly on your skin but I have never had an issue with burns that are sometimes associated with it’s use.

I have semi chronic shoulder pain from a separated shoulder a few years ago and I used to use a sunbeam dry heat electrical heating pad and a microwaveable bean bag, but the sunbeam heating pad was a very dry dull heat and I always had to make multiple trips to the microwave with the bean bag

I got frustrated with trips to the microwave and I knew there had to be a better product out there to meet my needs and did a lot of research to find the right product and it’s been a home run winner for me.  It’s a Moist Heat pad that is electric and programmable (no continuous trips to the microwave).  It wicks moisture from the air and it feels just like what a chiropractors office used on my back when I went in for an adjustment.  Many of the Chiropractors, Masseurs, and even Sports Trainers use a heavy pad that is left inside heated water; the heated pad is taken out and placed inside a towel which is then placed on the patient.  Anyone who has experienced this moist heat therapy knows how amazing and relaxing it feels but it is expensive to go to the chiropractor and masseuse multiple times.

If you think you could benefit from moist heat you can try the TheraTherm Digital Moist Heating Pad.  I use mine frequently; especially sitting in front of the computer or watching TV, no need to get back up to warm it up in the microwave!

Do you use something that is comparable?  Please share in the comments!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

sandeep April 17, 2014 at 2:30 am

good one.. thanks.


Christian August 2, 2012 at 12:00 am

Dear Author, I am not upset. We have found that many people believes that moist heat is a better source of therapeutic treatment, just because it feels better, though studies have shown that dry heat is a more effective treatment source, up to 2.7 times more effective. I wish you the best of luck with your blog and will check in periodically. Christian


admin August 2, 2012 at 10:55 am

I appreciate you coming back to reply,

I was not aware that dry heat was more effective.

When I was being treated for injuries I was always treated with moist heat in college, I was also given moist heat when given chiropractic treatment as well as massage therapy.

These factors as well as my own experience with both forms of heat makes me lean towards moist heat as a preferred source of pain relief but I will definitely look into it further because of your comments!


Rafa November 19, 2013 at 2:19 am

Moist heat is better than dry heat at conducting heat, thus, making it a better modality.


Christian May 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Dear author, I was taken back by the carte blanche statement that moist heat delivers the best results. Can you please help us? Can you provide clinical support for this evidence? We have searched high and low and have found clinical evidence that dry heat is a superior modality. We anxiously await your clinical studies. Thank you for your consideration and help. Christian


admin June 2, 2012 at 9:21 am


You seem upset, I’m just giving my opinion on the issue after testing out both of the forms of heat myself over several years. I am not a doctor, nor am I a “researcher” I merely relay what works for me; and for me, the moist heat delivers the best, most soothing results!

I apologize if my post comes off as a clinical study, just so everyone else that reads this is clear: it is not!

It does however deliver the best results for me.


Jane Simmons March 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I wish to find a chiropractor within the Ventura/Santa Barbara Counties that uses Moist heat therapy. Please let me know if you know of anyone that I can see for this therapy.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: