What Is the Best Pillow for Neck and Back Pain?


Most of us know mattresses are essential for dealing with back pain, but what you may not realize is that pillows are just as crucial. In fact, they may even have the edge in this department, as they also address neck issues.

Rest With Style recommends pillows specifically designed to provide a night’s rest free of aches and discomfort. That way, you wake up recharged and ready to take on the day. 


The Importance of Choosing a Good Pillow

Neck and back pains can get really intense, which is why it’s important to use a pillow that manages the pain effectively. In doing so, you prevent your injury from getting worse and boost your chances of getting decent sleep.

When your head is ergonomically-positioned as you sleep, you reduce the risks of head and neck issues. Using the right type of pillow can lend to this result. Doctors and researchers may find it hard to agree on the factors that make a pillow the right pillow, but here’s where they do see eye to eye:

  • Posture

A person’s posture when he sleeps impacts whether or not he experiences shoulder and neck pain.

  • Shape

The content and shape of a pillow contribute to pillow comfort and temperature. These also help maintain a proper cervical curve.

  • Sleep Quality

Spine alignment and craniocervical pressure are specific to height and believed to be indicators of sleep quality.

  • Height or Loft

Pillow height and shape may significantly impact cervical alignment.

Getting Comfortable

While there are basics for choosing a pillow for sleep, that may not be enough to rule out the need for experimentation. Plus, you also need to consider how old your pillows are. Pillows need replacements after a year or two, but the timing will depend on the filler material used.

The strongest indication that a brand-new pillow may be in order is when you wake up in discomfort or pain. When you have trouble getting back to sleep and have to constantly readjust and fluff your pillow, something is likely wrong with it.

Get an overall feel of your current pillow. Is it starting to lose shape or get lumpy? In other cases, you may feel it getting a little too elevated or flat. People may perceive these things differently, but you tend to feel them the older your pillow is.

The temperature could also be telling, though whether it has a direct effect on your pain is still up for debate. It does, however, impact sleep quality. You won’t get much quality sleep when you toss and turn from the cold or the heat all night. These movements may also aggravate back and spine issues.

Ultimately, getting comfortable also means choosing quality beddings. Some pillowcases and linens are designed to keep you cool, which lends to overall sleep quality. Linens that retain too much warmth may keep you from getting a good night’s rest.

Types of Pillows To Consider

There is no one specific type of pillow that’s right for everyone. Instead, there are four you can choose from, depending on your comfort levels and definition of quality sleep.

Down Pillows 

These tend to be softer than other pillow types. They are constructed using real down or a synthetic alternative. In either case, you have a pillow that’s pretty common on the market. These pillows don’t provide much in the way of firmness, but they can aid in good sleep quality due to their softness and malleability.


Latex can either be natural or synthetic. Otherwise called rubber pillows, latex pillows provide good support and soft cushioning. Since latex is shredded to construct these pillows, you can have the pillows personalized with more or less filling, depending on your sleep requirements.

Memory Foam

These types of pillows are viscoelastic, which means they return to their original shape and will stretch to align with your body’s shape. They come in gel- and egg-shaped forms, both of which are capable of molding to the spine’s contour.

Combination Pillows

Pillows can also be composed of two different materials. The more popular combination pillows are made with a foam center surrounded with down for support and comfort. Cores made of gel are another favored option because of their cooling quality.

While learning about the types of pillows helps you make an educated choice, you may still end up doing test runs. Thus, consider a brand that offers a good exchange program. This way, you won’t have any problems returning a pillow that fails to pass your criteria for quality sleep.

What Pillow Is Best for Back and Neck Pain?

Aside from following a set of expert guidelines, follow the guidelines set by you when choosing a pillow for addressing back and neck pain. We each have our own definition of comfort and quality sleep, and these factors are key determinants for whether or not a pillow addresses our musculoskeletal needs.

Just remember this: The pillow should conform to the contours of your spine and neck. It should be neither too stiff nor too soft, and it shouldn’t be too high or too flat. Get those three to align, and you should be golden!

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