Two Pillow Strategy For Neck Pain

Do I Need More Than One Pillow? Will A Two Pillow Strategy Help Me?

Everyone is looking for the right pillow to help with neck pain. There are many pillows and many will find one that works. Pillows can help with neck pain and headaches, however; since neck pain can be complicated, especially chronic neck pain, there needs to be a strategy for some who have problems finding the right pillow that will help with neck pain. Let’s look at the two pillow strategy for managing neck pain.

With So Many Pillows, How Do I Know Which Is Best?

This is not a simple answer. There are so many pillows that there is bound to be one that will work, but which one? Well, for difficult conditions like chronic pain from cervical spine arthritis, you may need a strategy that incorporates two pillows instead of one.

Why Do I Need A Two Pillow Strategy?

Well, first I must state that you should not look only to pillows to help your neck pain condition. A good strategy is to have appropriate medical and/or chiropractic care. Incorporating ergonomics, posture modification, specific exercise/stretching, as well as spinal decompression is important. However, there are so many who are just very frustrated with finding a pillow that will work, so I will relate my own personal experience and advice that has worked in many difficult cases:

I have had and still suffer from advanced degenerative disc disease. I have Arthritic Modic changes, and this can be the most inflammatory, painful and disabling type of degeneration. To be relevant, I will only talk about pillows in this article.

I get asked a lot, well, which pillow do you use? Many figure, if the doctor uses it, it is the best. Well, this is not always true. Yes, I have tried many pillows over the years, however, it is a strategy that provides the best results for me. I am not saying that what I use has completely cured me, only that this is the method that reduces neck pain symptoms and headaches for me. It keeps it to a minimum; minimal morning stiffness and headache problems.

First, I use a soft memory foam contour pillow or supportive memory foam and fiber combination pillow about 80% of the time. Both are non-functional pillows and it depends on ear symptoms. The contour is the most comfortable, however, when I get ear problems I switch to the combination.

uniform combination pillow

The combination is a comfortable and the memory foam is strictly for the cervical spine, while the head is supported by soft, breathable fiber. Soft memory foam for sensitive necks with good reactive properties. Because an arthritic neck is easily injured, re-injured or exacerbated, it can get inflamed and irritated and these pillows do not help. It seems as though it’s just a bad pillow and I’ll have to find another one. Well, it is not a bad pillow, the condition of my neck has changed. It can happen from bad posture, lifting something wrong, a surprise or sudden quick look to the side or even a sneeze.

orthopedic pillow at amazon

Another Pillow To The Rescue

I do not throw the pillow away, I use a different one, a functional pillow, the Therapeutic Pillow. Why? Because it is a different type of pillow, not necessarily the material it’s made of, but the design. It has separate areas for back and side sleeping and is measured to fit for correct size. Because I’m in more pain, I have no problem switching positions consciously. This helps relieve the pain, usually within a night or two.

therapeutic pillow

What Next? More Pain?

Yes! After a few nights, the pain eases, and then it starts hurting again? Is it the wrong pillow? Yes. Why? Because the pain is better and the symptoms have changed; I sleep more soundly and do not consciously change positions, so I wake up on my back and I am on the part of the pillow meant for side sleeping, or on my side with my head in the center part. Bad posture = more pain.

So, What Pillow Now?

Yes, back to the combination or contour uniform surface one, and I’m good till the next time. Maybe a week, a month or a couple, but for those with chronic neck problems, it will come. With chronic conditions it seems to never stop. But, I can handle it with the strategy of using 2 good pillows according to my symptoms and functional ability.

Will This Two Pillow Strategy Work For Me?

I don’t know. It may be that you don’t need a replacement pillow, just an alternative. Pay attention to your symptoms. One pillow may not be the answer. It may be two or even three! Considering some have a closet full of pillow trying to find the right one, having two or three that work according to your symptoms is not a bad compromise.

Ok, But I’m A Petite Person, What Pillows Will Work For Me?

The Therapeutic Pillow comes in petite sizes and the foam/fiber combination as well. Many memory foam pillows are just one size, with most having 2 different height lobes, but there are smaller memory foam pillows that are great. So, there are options for everyone.

Alright, But I’m A Large Person, What About Me?

Both the Therapeutic Pillow and the foam/fiber combination come in extra large sizes. Again, there are options for everyone!

I Don’t Want The Therapeutic Pillow, Are There Options?

Yes. The Neck Pain Pillow is a functional pillow and has separate areas for back and side sleeping, but is fiber based and adjustable for each section. There are also fiber based functional pillows like the Popular Neck Pillow, and it has different sizes and options.

two pillow strategy - sectional

Well, this is a different; using a two pillow strategy, but it has worked in cases where individuals are having a difficult time getting a single pillow to work. So, if your pillow works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t, consider the two pillow option, just make sure the strategy is the right one and based on sound ergonomics, symptoms and functional ability.

A study in the Physical Therapy Science Journal outlines that a single surface pillow does not provide adequate cervical spine support for side and back sleeping as well as conforming to the shoulder. The authors recommend a functional pillow.

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.