Best Pillow For Neck Pain

The Best Pillow For Neck Pain Requires Some Research On Your Part

The truth is there is no one best pillow for neck pain. There are many causes for neck pain, therefore, no single pillow is best. To find the best pillow, you should first seek the reasons you are experiencing neck pain. This may require professional help from medical doctors, chiropractors or physical therapists.

Many companies make claims that their pillow is the best. At Neck Solutions, we say “If you are not sure, don’t buy”. The best neck pillow is not one that jumps at you from advertising or even reviews. Often, the problem with “testimonials” is that they can be falsified. Competition can invest in paying people to buy the product and write good or bad reviews, often telling them what to say and how to say it. Friends and relatives are often called upon to help. Giveaways are common and you should take note of this as it may bias the review. Even if true, what may be the best pillow for one person may not be the best for you, even if they sound like their condition is similar to yours.

best pillow for neck pain

What I take from reviewing journal articles on cervical pillows is that if you are experiencing neck pain, changing your current pillow may make a difference. A 2019 study in Health SA indicates introducing a cervical pillow provides additional significant benefit to chiropractic care for chronic neck pain and was recommended as an “adjunct management tool”.

Therefore, changing to any kind of new pillow may help. Changing pillows through buying new ones frequently is an exercise in futility and expense. There should be a correlation between what you are trying to accomplish (reduce pain, improve posture….), your condition (specific pain generators…), and the most reasonable method to achieve a long term goal. Often, a pillow is a piece of the puzzle. Observing good ergonomics and doing the right exercises/stretches need to be part of long term success. If your goal is short term, take an aspirin and buy any cheap pillow.

A pillow should be a part of your attempts at neck pain relief and/or posture restoration and should not be looked as, “If I can find the best pillow, I can cure my neck pain”. This is just not reasonable or realistic.

So, what is the answer to how I can find the best pillow for neck pain? The question should be, how can I find the best pillow for me?

What makes this a difficult task is that you can not try every pillow. There are just too many, in too many different forms, shapes, sizes and materials. There are pillow made from standard foam, memory foam, latex, feathers, buckwheat and combinations of the different types of pillows for neck pain relief.

What we try to do is provide a variety of pillows and enough information for you to decide for yourself what the best pillow is for YOU. We also encourage you to ask questions by contacting us by our form so that we can help, and we do not mind starting a dialog to assist you. We are available via email through the contact form most consistently. We just deal a lot with ALS patients and other conditions related to dropped head syndrome, and the use of head supports, which is our main priority via phone.

Too often, we get, “I have this or that problem, what is the best pillow for my neck pain?” The response is “We do have many neck pillows and they are all designed to help with neck problems. It is important to choose a pillow that relates to your sleeping habits and one you think will be best for your sleep style.” We have an article on how to best choose the right pillow and this can give you an idea of how the different types of pillows function and how they relate to your sleeping habits as well as the main pillow page.

So, we recommend that you have a look and read the articles which contain much information, look at some pillows, then narrow your choices down to two or three that you think will be best. After this, we can provide some assistance or direction and you may contact us. You should take some time to inform yourself rather than making quick decisions based on advertising or reviews.

Now that we have a basis to choose the best pillow for neck pain, lets look at couple of the most popular ones and go over a few things about them.

Memory foam pillows are popular and are usually comfortable, but vary in quality and level of firmness. Problems seen are heat build up and chemicals that produce off=gassing, which offends some. There are many options regarding this with some using a chemical free material and various materials like gel to help keep it cooler. Usually a non-molded, foam – one without a skin like the contour, that is made from cut foam will allow the pillow to breath. They are very accommodating for neck pain.

We usually suggest a choice of five and four inch height lobes or contours as they are accommodating due to its properties as mentioned previous, it tends to compress the right amount necessary based on your head weight, whether you are sleeping on your side or back.

The Therapeutic Pillow is the most popular of our separate section or functional pillows for neck pain. This is to say that it is the best pillow in this design for most people with pain issues. The foam is more consistent than fiber. It is made of a high quality recycled foam with a medium density – just right to maintain it’s orthopedic design. The upper back extension flows smoothly into a neck roll and head cradle for back sleeping.

In side sleeping, you have proper shoulder height and contour to prevent neck/shoulder compression. The side portions are somewhat unstable, creating a degree of activity that is not perceptible, but can help with increasing blood flow and stabilization of muscles, which can help neck pain.

It think this is the best pillow for neck pain, HOWEVER; Because it has separate areas for back and side sleeping, it requires you to be able to move consciously to change positions. The foam is made very well and the properties go well with the ergonomic design. It comes in many different heights and you can measure which is the right height for you. This keeps you in the optimal posture and position in back and side sleeping. You should allow a few weeks to get used to this type of pillow and it may need to be gradually introduced. To make this easier, there is a latex version which makes transitions easier.

So, if you bought a pillow and realize that you have to adjust the pillow every time you change positions to get the best support and you do not like having to do this, you need to go with a uniform height pillow (the right height contour options). If you or put your arm under it when side sleeping, it is an indication that a variable height pillow is needed. Because of the shoulders, side sleeping requires a higher loft to keep the neck aligned properly.

So, which of the above two is best for neck pain? Well, the latex pillow is good for a more acute pain, such as a recent injury to the neck. The Therapeutic is more for chronic pain. Perhaps I can explain it best by using myself as an example. I have had many cervical spine problems over the years. The main problem is early onset and progressive degenerative disc disease complicated with Modic 1 changes.

I find the contour memory foam to be helpful for most of the time and this is not an expensive pillow. However, when I have an acute flare-up of pain, I switch to the therapeutic pillow. When I am in a lot of pain, it is no problem consciously moving from one position to another. This can be affected by some pain medicines, so keep that in mind. More on this under two pillow strategy for neck pain.

Now, the purpose of this is not to go over each pillow, there is more information on each. The above example showed two of our most popular types pillows for neck pain and how they compare and which might be the best for your neck pain. This does not mean you need two pillows. The latex orthopedic has an insert in the center and may eliminate the need for a 2 pillow strategy. The Therapeutic is a bit more precise, but not as accommodating. These two are high end pillows and make a good investment in spinal health if they are right for you as they will last for many years

Both the therapeutic and a memory foam are good for acute and chronic conditions. This is just an example of what works for me and others that have a difficult time finding relief when sleeping. You may find the memory foam best for acute conditions or flare-ups and the therapeutic best for more chronic conditions. Over the years, I have received more and more feedback regarding the efficacy of using the 2 pillow strategy to manage acute and chronic conditions; both from customers and professionally.

I will just close this article by providing an answer I gave to someone asking about two different pillows. The contour pillow for side sleeping and the therapeutic pillow, so you can see how I responded.

The side sleeper pillow is designed specifically for side sleeping and you have to be sure that you only roll over on your back while sleeping for short periods. It can be measured to fit the correct height while side sleeping which would be different than for back sleeping. It is a soft memory foam, quite comfortable and very well made. Again, it is for side sleeping and the same goes for the shoulder cut out pillow (one height only – but really nice). Similarly, the Therapeutic has raised sides for the correct height while side sleeping, but it also has a mid section with a neck roll for back sleeping along with a cervicothoracic extension to support the upper back properly which can contribute to neck pain.

With this pillow, you need to make sure you consciously change positions during the night, but it will have very good positioning for both back and side sleeping. If you think you cannot keep from rolling on your back while sleeping with the contour pillow, or if you do not think you can consciously change positions at night with any variable height pillow, then you should use one without separate sleeping areas, like a standard contour pillow or one with a uniform surface. From specific pillows, you can get a general feeling and this should help you wherever you go to get the best pillow for neck pain.

I hope this helps give you some insight into how to find the best pillow. Again, read the article on tips on choosing a pillow. Hopefully, this will provide YOU with the best pillow. If you are still unsure, narrow your choices down and contact us or what or who you trust to offer the best help.

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.