Pillows for Neck Pain Relief

Many neck pain sufferers find that small changes in their sleeping position, including use of a different pillow, can have significant consequences for their well-being. Fibre pillows, water pillows, firm, soft, and medium density pillows are all lauded as the ‘answer to neck pain’; in reality, the appropriate pillow varies for each individual and their condition. Orthopaedic pillows used to be made of fibre and foam, but can now come in memory foam, air, and water models which claim to help correct posture and realign the body to alleviate pain, stiffness, snoring and even sleep apnea.

Water Pillow for Neck Pain

Some pillows have been clinically tested as neck pain treatment devices, such as the Mediflow Waterbase water pillow (at the Johns Hopkins University), and have had a documented beneficial effect on those suffering neck pain. This pillow, and similar water-based neck supports can be ‘customized’ to a degree by altering the amount of water in the pillow and thereby changing its firmness. This system is definitely advantageous over the traditional memory-foam pillows which have a set density and firmness that may not suit everyone.

The Aqua Core Water Support Neck Pillow is similar to the Mediflow model in that it can be adjusted using an addition called the Comfort Chamber to the basic fiber pillow. This pillow has a number of optional extras including the Cervical Insert which can provide even more support to help realign a curved neck. It also includes a Water Displacement Panel to reduce the sounds of the water in the pillow. The ability to choose between the Low Loft Fiber Chamber and the High Loft option makes it suitable for many of those suffering neck pain.

Traction Pillow for Neck Pain Relief

For those who are trying to correct poor posture and realign the head and neck, a cervical traction pillow is worth investigating. The traction pillow can ensure the correct sleeping position and gives the cervical spine a gentle stretch during sleep to help separate vertebrae and discs that may be becoming compacted. Those with a ‘curved’ neck (often referred to as a ‘military neck’) are likely to be helped by a cervical traction pillow, as are those with bulging or herniated discs, or arthritis.

These traction pillows, however, are unlikely to be useful for anyone other than those who sleep on their back with side-sleepers advised instead to go for a specific pillow for their needs such as the Side Sleeper SleepRight Neck Pillow. There are even specific pillows for those who sleep on their stomachs (TearDrop Pillow for Stomach Sleepers), although it is preferable for good neck health to sleep on one side or, even better, on the back.

Fiber support pillows include some traction pillows and provide support to the cervical region. Foam neck pillows come in many shapes and sizes and use many different materials including polyurethane foam and memory foam which is heat activated and provides gentle support whilst fitting the contours of the neck and head.

Specialty Adjustable Pillows

Specialty pillows also exist, with the adjustable air-pillow allowing for changes in the firmness and support of the pillow. These pillows are excellent for those struggling to adjust to the firm support of a cervical traction pillow, and can allow for gradual increases in the pillow’s firmness before switching to a specific traction solution. A lot of people do find difficulty in moving from their old, un-supportive pillow, to the firm traction style.

Linear Gravity Neck Pillow

Other specialty pillows include the Linear Gravity Neck Pillow which aligns the head, neck and spine for sleep on the back or the side. This pillow helps reduce stiffness and pain from muscles and joints and the manufacturers also promote it for fibromyalgia sufferers. There are also pillows which can help alleviate migraines and headaches through the use of ice and gel packs, with the aim of reducing inflammation and muscle spasms. A model which also aims to support and restore proper neck curvature is the Headache Ice Pillow with Gel Pack.

Proper Sleeping Posture

It is important that whichever pillow is used that it does not tilt the head forward when the user is lying on their back. If sleeping on one side then the pillow should just fit the space between the ear and the mattress; not tipping the head up or down. Using extra pillows to support the arms and even between the knees or under the lower back can be helpful to those with neck pain. The basic idea to remember is that the pillow should not strain the neck in any way; sleep should be restful, not an endurance event.





Last Updated: 9/10/2010