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Good Pillows For Back Pain

How Can A Pillow Help With Neck Pain

This Is What’s Causing Your Back Pain

Many people experience neck pain that may result from everyday stressors, such as work or poor posture. Sitting for long hours in front of a computer or mobile device may cause additional neck strain.

A persons sleep posture is important. One function of a pillow is to keep the neck in correct alignment with the rest of the spine to ensure that the muscles relax properly and do not overextend.

Additionally, a 2021 research review states that pillow height and shape are important factors in reducing neck pain and promoting spinal alignment.

Many people sleep on their sides, but some prefer to sleep on their backs and others on their stomachs.

In general:

  • side sleepers should aim for a thicker pillow to keep their neck aligned with their spine
  • back sleepers should start with a medium pillow that supports their neck and lets their head rest
  • stomach sleepers should have a very thin pillow to prevent extension in their neck

Each sleeper will benefit from a different kind of pillow to promote the correct neck posture while sleeping. This is essential, as incorrect neck posture can cause or worsen neck pain and prevent the neck from resting during the night.

Below are some of the pros and cons of pillows for neck pain that a person can consider before making a purchase.

Is It Better To Sleep On A Hard Or Soft Pillow For Neck Pain

This would depend on how you choose to sleep and how heavy your head is.

A medium-firm pillow is often the best choice for the average side and back sleeper. For stomach sleepers, a soft pillow is ideal.

Side sleepers can also opt for a firmer pillow, as support is vital in this posture, but just make sure that the pillow doesn’t put too much pressure on your shoulders and sides to the point where you get uncomfortable.

Furthermore, the heavier your head is, the firmer your pillow must be to avoid sinking.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pillows For Back Pain

Can the wrong pillow make back pain worse?

The wrong pillow can worsen back pain, making it essential for sleepers with back pain to choose their pillows wisely. The wrong pillow will provide inadequate support, placing the head and neck at an uncomfortable angle. This can be the result of a loft that is too high or too low, or a pillow that is not the right firmness for the sleeper. Shoppers need to choose a pillow that supports their sleeping position and body type, including their head size and shoulder width.

What is the most important consideration when choosing a pillow for back pain?

One of the most important considerations when choosing a pillow for back pain is its loft. Size and shape are also essential factors, as each impacts how much pressure relief and support the pillow provides. Pillow loft is the height of the pillow, which determines the angle of the head and neck. The pillow should also be large enough to evenly distribute weight and ensure support as sleepers change positions throughout the night.

What is the worst pillow type for back pain?

The worst pillow type for back pain is one that flattens easily and does not support the head and neck. Some materials, like low-quality polyester fibers, are less likely to retain shape throughout the night, causing strain on the neck and shoulders. The pillow should maintain its loft and keep the upper body supported.

Can a body pillow help with back pain?

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What Is The Best Pillow Position For Back Pain

Even though you can sleep on your front, side, or back using a pillow, you can tweak a few things to make the sleeping position more beneficial.

  • Side with a pillow between the knees – Placing a pillow between your knees as you sleep sideways squares the hips, minimising pressure on the lower back and straightening the spine.
  • Back with a pillow under the knees – Placing another pillow under your knees in the back position tends to prevent pressure from developing on the spine.
  • Fetal position – Bend both knees evenly into the fetal position, then curve your upper body towards your knees. It helps form the natural spine alignment, but you must be cautious about weight distribution and ensure body weight is distributed evenly.

What Makes The Eli & Elm Side Sleeper Pillow Stand Out

The 5 Best Body Pillows For Back Pain
  • The U-shaped cutout on one side of the pillow is designed to accommodate your shoulder and promote spinal alignment.
  • You can take out or add in the fill to get the loft and firmness you need, which can also accommodate short or broad shoulders.
  • All the materials in this pillow are OEKO-Tex certified, meaning no harsh chemicals went into the production of this pillow.

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Pillows For Side Sleepers

This position often helps with pain from osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or a foraminal herniated disc. Avoid always sleeping on the same side to prevent muscle imbalance or even scoliosis. One exception is pregnancy when sleeping on your left side is best. This keeps the baby from putting pressure on your liver.

You should sleep in the fetal position to open the spaces between the vertebrae. This extra space relieves pressure on the spinal discs. Use these pillows to ease your back pain.

One option for a pillow to use between your knees is a Tear Drop Pillow. The supportive pillow is long enough for use as a leg spacer.

Its important to support your neck when sleeping. Side sleepers can benefit from a pillow with cervical support rolls to fill the space between the neck and the bed.

Consider adding another pillow if theres a gap between your waist and the mattress.

How Firm Should A Pillow Be To Alleviate Neck Pain

A somewhat firm pillow is generally best for neck pain, especially if you sleep on your side. A pillow that is too soft and unsupportive will put pressure on your cervical spine. But the pillow should still have some softness. Any pillow that feels uncomfortable is going to be bad news for your neck.

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Best Pillow For Stomach Sleepers With Neck Pain

Pros: The low loft is great for stomach sleepers, easy-to-clean cover, lifetime warranty

Cons: Not recommended for side or back sleepers, short trial, you can’t adjust the loft

At 2.5 inches, the Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow offers the lowest loft of the pillows we tested, making it ideal for stomach sleepers. While you can’t adjust the loft, the gel memory foam is pliable enough to fold in half to get extra lift if you occasionally shift to your side.

Insider Reviews senior reporter Owen Burke suffers from neck pain and has tested several thin pillows designed for stomach sleepers but was never impressed by them. At times, he’d even give up and rest his head on his shoulder without a pillow.

Right away, Burke appreciated the Belly Sleeper’s ability to gently adapt to the curvature of his head and neck. He also found the machine-washable cover was particularly soothing under his usual pillowcase. “Overall, I’m sleeping far better, longer, and much more comfortably than any other time in recent memory,” he said.

I also tested the Belly Sleep pillow. I found it comfortable enough when falling asleep on my stomach, but when I wanted to shift to my preferred side-sleeping position, it did not provide enough loft. When I folded the pillow, it just felt too awkward. You may want to choose a different pillow if you don’t primarily sleep on your stomach.

Zenesse Luxelift Adjustable Support Therapy Wedge Pillow

Shoulder Pain? NEVER Sleep In These 3 Positions. Do THIS Instead!

Best for: back pain, back injury, GERD, acid reflux, back and leg support, snoring, hot sleepers

Product Highlights

  • 2 Gel-infused memory foam comfort top
  • Natural bamboo pillowcase
  • Multi-purpose split height design
  • Recommended by doctors for neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as back injuries, and GERD
  • Suitable for back conditions like fibromyalgia
  • Fully adjustable as knee support and leg elevation
  • Suitable for pregnancy relief
  • Keeps you cool, dry, and comfortable

What We Think

If youre experiencing frequent back pain caused by strenuous work or exercise, or you suffer from a back condition, this wedge pillow will surely help you out. The wedge is high enough to provide support for the whole back and neck area, and it allows you to keep a proper posture and sleeping position throughout the night.

The pillow has a bumpy texture on the very surface which serves not only to secure the pillow cover but also has a gentle massage effect for your lower and upper back. If you require more support for your back in the knee area, the pillow can easily serve as knee support and leg elevation for back pain, sciatica, arthritis, lower back, hip pain, etc.

The pillow is excellent for people who experience poor circulation, acid reflux, and heartburn, a herniated disc, or simply need better support during sleep.


  • Orthopedic support
  • Gel-infused memory foam top
  • Removable and washable pillow cover
  • Durability and high-quality materials
  • Exceptional back pain relief and back support

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Pillow Support Is Crucial For Spine Problems

For those with spinal disorders, the right type of support can be especially important in helping the spine rest comfortably. Sufficient and restorative sleep are the body’s chance to heal itself from the postural, physical, and nervous challenges of the day.

Pillow fillings vary in their level of support. Most down or feather pillows offer little structural support compared with pillows filled with firmer materials.

One research study compared the support provided by 3 different types of pillows:

  • A roll-shaped orthopedic pillow filled with polypropylene capsules
  • A contour-shaped memory foam pillow made of polyurethane
  • A feather pillow made of 100% goose down.

The orthopedic pillow was found the best for spinal alignment and the feather pillow fared worst.1Kim HC, Jun HS, Kim JH, Ahn JH, Chang IB, Song JH, Oh JK. The Effect of Different Pillow Heights on the Parameters of Cervicothoracic Spine Segments. Korean J Spine. 2015 Sep 12: 135-138. Published online 2015 Sep 30.

While research can be helpful, individual comfort and support should be the deciding factor. Trying out a pillow for a week should be enough time to decide whether the pillow is beneficial.

What To Consider When Purchasing A Pillow For Neck Pain

Most people dont give much thought to their pillow, beyond choosing a pillow thats nice and squishy for immediate comfort. This means that when we do realize our pillow may be contributing to our neck pain, we may not know how to go about choosing the best pillow. If youre in this position, you may be susceptible to misleading marketing and end up choosing a pillow thats ill-suited for your needs.

To help you get started, weve made a list of the most important factors. Focusing on these factors and having a basic understanding of pillow features and construction can help you find the pillow that works best for you.

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Tips For Back Pain Sufferers

Getting the perfect pillow may help to improve your back pain, but there are some other things to do to ensure you get relief.

  • Maintain the correct posture when sitting or during physical activities
  • Work and stretch your core and back muscles
  • Invest in a quality medium to firm mattress
  • Consider using a mattress topper on soft mattresses
  • Balance and lighten your load
  • Lift heavy items properly

Is Sleeping With Too Many Pillows Bad For Back

Best Pillows For Lower Back Pain

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Sleeping with too many pillows can be bad for your back. Having too many pillows can cause your spine to twist and curve in an unnatural way, which can lead to pain and discomfort. Additionally, the extra pillows can push your head and neck into an uncomfortable position that can cause neck and shoulder pain. It is best to use one or two pillows that support the natural alignment of your spine and neck. Make sure the pillows are not too high or too low and that they are not bunched up in any way. This will help ensure that you are sleeping in the best position possible for your back.

It has been suggested that you place one pillow under your head during sleep. Preferences and sleeping positions can be used to determine how many pillows should one use. Everyone would have a single pillow that would fit their needs in an ideal world. If youre looking for a reason to sleep with a single pillow, heres what weve compiled. Multiple pillows can seem like a supportive solution, but they could be causing your spine to shift in a negative way. If you prefer sleeping in your stomach, you might be unable to tolerate a pillow with too much support. The winner of a pillow toss is always the one with the most pillows, and the loser is always the one who makes the most risky decision.

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Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity Full Body Pillow Best Pregnancy Pillow For Back Pain


This full body maternity pillow is versatile and convenient because it replaces the myriad of pillows you would otherwise need for optimum support during your pregnancy.


You can wrap your hand underneath it, rest your head on it to alleviate headaches and hold it between your knees to reduce hip aches the curse of pregnancy.

Once youre in the second or third trimester, you can prop your growing belly on it too so you can reduce pressure on your spine.

Patented Design

The original Snoogle boasts a patented design. Its creator is a nurse and mother, who is familiar with the intricacies of pregnancy and the support women need during this period.

As such, the pillow is cuddly and supportive, it adjusts to your body shape, but its also breathable and cool.


The horseshoe head pillow is easy to fluff to the right height. The midsection is long, so you can easily wrap it along your back or under your stomach. The end is a bit curved so you can adjust it between your knees.

The downside is that you need to spend a bit of time adjusting all these parts to feel comfortable. And if you change positions frequently during your sleep, you will need to do that almost every time.

Sham-Style Cover

The cover is soft and low-maintenance as you can easily wash it in the machine.

Quick Summary: The Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity Full Body Pillow is versatile and highly adjustable, supporting your back, belly, and shoulders to avoid pregnancy-induced backaches.

Is A High Medium Or Low Loft Pillow Better For Neck Pain

It depends on what type of sleeper you are. If youre a stomach sleeper, it may be best to choose a pillow with a low loft to minimize the pressure on your spine. If youre a back or side sleeper, a medium loft pillow that allows your head, neck, and spine to form a straight line may be right for you.

Finally, if youre a side sleeper with bigger shoulders, a high loft pillow may be suitable. Note the pillow should equal the distance between the ears and the edge of the shoulders.

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How Do You Choose The Right Pillow For You

Everyone is different, so trying out different materials and sizes will help you determine which is best for your body, Dr. Fischer explains. That said, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, know that there are four parts of the spine your pillow can support, Dinney explains: cervical , thoracic , lumbar , and pelvis. Ultimately, you want to pay attention to what positions provoke and ease pain, and in what specific areas.

And when it comes to pillows for sitting versus those for sleeping, consider this: If laying in bed provides some relief but you have poor posture at work, Dinney says a pillow for sitting at your desk might do better than one under your neck while laying in bed. A pillow used for sleeping should help maintain neutral alignment and comfort depending on your sleep position, Dr. Fischer explains.

Youll also want to pay attention to the material of the pillow youre using, regardless of whether you need sleeping or sitting support. When it comes to high-support pillows for back pain, you typically have two main material options: memory foam and down pillows.

Memory foam pillows are super soft and they provide support by filling the gaps created by your body to align the spine, says Jacob Hascalovici, MD, PhD, a board-certified interventional pain specialist and the chief medical officer of Clearing. And this type of pillows are commonly used for both sitting and sleeping.

Support And Pressure Relief

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Loft contributes immensely to enhancing support and pressure relief, but you should also consider how well the pillow forms to the shape of your head.

Materials like memory foam cradle your head, providing comfortable support and pressure relief. Even if you use a firm-support pillow, ensure the outer surfaces are soft enough.

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One Pillow Is Key For Comfortable Sleep

If you sleep with multiple pillows, you should be aware of the risks. Having too many pillows can make it difficult for you to sleep, causing neck pain and other sleep problems. The proper number of pillows can provide support for your body during a comfortable nights sleep, but having too many can make sleeping difficult. According to sleep experts, the best pillows are those that provide the correct amount of support for the neck, head, and spine, and are made of high-quality, single pillows. Side sleeping is especially prone to this problem because too many pillows can elevate the head and neck, resulting in neck pain. You should avoid stacking or stacking too high pillows if you prefer to sleep with two pillows, and look for pillows that are thinner or less bulky. It can also help keep you from getting neck pain during the night.


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