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How do I Choose the Best Pillow for Neck Pain?

By T. L. Childree
Updated: May 23, 2024

Choosing the right pillow for neck pain will primarily depend on the amount of neck support you require. If you are a side sleeper, you should choose a pillow that does not allow your head to tilt upward or downward. Sleeping on your back will require a pillow that prevents your head from tilting forward or backward. Several different types of pillows meet these requirements including fiber, feather, foam, and water-filled as well as orthopedic and cervical designs.

Fiber-filled pillows typically contain either polyester or wool materials. This is the most commonly used pillow and is often chosen by those who suffer from allergies. This is usually not a good pillow for neck pain because the fibers can become flattened in a relatively short period of time. Once the fiber filling has lost its resilience, the pillow offers very little neck support. Fiber-filled pillows can also be a poor choice for people who sleep in both side and back positions.

A feather pillow is a better option for neck pain because it can be molded into a suitable shape for neck support. These pillows can usually provide a soft surface for the head as well as firm support for the neck. The feather filling has a tendency to compress during the night and may require occasional fluffing for continuous support. A feather pillow is typically unsuitable for people with allergies. A good feather pillow is usually the most expensive type of pillow for neck pain.

Foam pillows generally offer the firmest sleeping surface of any of the variants. The dense foam material typically offers very little resilience and can sometimes be a bit too firm. This type of pillow usually offers good neck support but may require an adjustment period before it becomes comfortable. Water-filled pillows, another option, offer relatively good neck support by redistributing the weight of the head to prevent pillow compression. The firmness can be adjusted by decreasing the amount of water inside the pillow.

An orthopedic pillow typically has a raised edge on each side with a depressed area in the center. The raised edges are intended to support the neck while the depressed center keeps the head in a natural position. Orthopedic pillows are designed to provide neck support in side or back sleeping positions. Cervical pillows are tubular-shaped and designed to maintain the natural contours of the neck and head during sleep; they typically provide good neck support. Both of these designs usually provide a good pillow for neck pain.

PillowGuide is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By headright — On Aug 07, 2013

There are several types of pillows available. I was confused about it, but your article has help me to choose the right neck pain pillow.

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