Best Cervical Pillow: The Cushion Lab Neck
Why We Like It: For back sleepers, side sleepers, and back/side hybrid sleepers, this ergonomically-designed cervical pillow helps cradle your natural spine alignment.
Its Worth Noting: This dense pillow may be too supportive for some.
Cervical pillows, which have a raised edge and lower center, are more supportive than a flat pillow, Lees explains. The design of this one helps cradle your head and stretch your neck, while you sleep.
We love The Cushion Labs Cervical Pillow, as its made from contouring memory foam and was shaped by an in-house ergonomist to ensure proper support and alignment. It features a sloped neck ramp for the lowest part of your C-spine, an arched cushion to relieve upper neck pressure, and a concave head basin for natural alignment when laying down. It has special accommodations for both back and side sleepers: The pillow has a curved shoulder cushion to keep back sleepers from shrugging up their shoulders during the night. And, the pillow features raised face support on the wings for side sleepers.
A cervical pillow’s extra support can be too much for some people and lead to more soreness. So, if this is your first time using a cervical pillow, its smart to look for one with a refundable sleep-trial period. The Cushion Lab offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if this cervical pillow ends up being too supportive for your needs.
Price at time of publication: $59
- Trial or guarantee: 30-day money-back guarantee
Other Tips For Shoulder Pain Sufferers
In addition to using a pillow that offers adequate support, sleepers with shoulder pain can try one or more of the following strategies in order to find relief.
Choose the Right Mattress: As with pillows, a mattress can help reduce shoulder pain or exacerbate your discomfort and again, this usually comes down to support level. A mattress that feels too soft and sinks excessively can worsen shoulder pain.
Generally, side sleepers feel more comfortable on softer mattresses because they cushion the shoulders and hips while supporting the lower back, leading to better spinal alignment. The back position already promotes proper alignment on its own, so these sleepers need more firmness and support to prevent excessive sinkage beneath the shoulders.
Engage in Physical Therapy or Stretching: Physical therapy and stretching are commonly prescribed to medical patients with shoulder pain. The nature of these treatments largely depend on the nature of your injury and severity of symptoms, so please consult your doctor or another credentialed medical provider for more information.
Best Memory Foam: Tempur
Why We Like It The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow utilizes proprietary memory foam to support and conform to your neck. It includes two different-sized bolsters to choose from depending on your sleep style and three sizes for different body types.
Its Worth Noting: It may be too supportive for non-side sleepers.
Memory foam conforms to the shape of your neck, so it can enhance the fit of the pillow, says Dr. Shah. We love the memory foam TEMPUR-Neck Pillow because it is ergonomically designed with an extra-firm feel to maintain its shape and two different-sized bolsters for a higher or lower head angle, depending on your sleep style and pain points.
Instead of a head cut-out, this pillow has a slope in the middle for your head to rest on, so itll be most comfortable for side sleepers. Keep in mind that Tempurpedic doesnt offer a sleep trial period, so if you dont sleep on your side, this pillow probably isnt for you.
This pillow does come in three pillow profile sizessmall, medium, and largefor different body shapes, with the large at the highest loft of 4.75 inches and the small at the lowest, of 3 inches.
This Tempurpedic pillow also comes with a five-year warranty to guarantee quality.
Price at time of publication: $119
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How We Chose The Best Pillows For Neck Pain
To choose the best pillows for neck pain, we did a deep-dive into dozens of the top brands on the market and rounded up their top-selling pillow models. Next, we narrowed down the field using factors like customer reviews, comfort ratings and overall value. We also spoke with a physical therapist, who confirmed the qualities we should be looking for in the best pillows for neck pain. Finally, several of our staffers shared their own personal experiences and favorite purchases, helping us to further narrow the field of top contenders.
Best Shredded Memory Foam Pillow: Coop Home Goods Eden Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
Shredded memory foam offers more breathability than its solid core memory foam counterpart. And since it’s shredded, they are ideal for sleepers that love to scrunch, smush, and really smoosh into their pillow. Earning an impressive 4.5-star rating from Amazon shoppers in addition to more than 2,800 perfect reviews, the Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow combines gel-infused and microfiber memory foam to deliver an all-around comfortable feel that is also incredibly cooling. Suitable for every sleep style, it’s built with a supportive gusset to give it structure and promote alignment. “I usually have to use more than one pillow, but last night using the Eden pillow, I only needed that pillow,” explained one reviewer, who noted that they were suffering from “extreme neck and back pain” due to a car accident. It’s even won over “picky pillow” people. “I will tell you that we do not take pillow purchasing lightly,” another wrote, adding that they’d been experiencing “some slight neck stiffness” upon waking. “This pillow eliminated all issues!”
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What Is Shoulder Pain
Shoulder is the shorthand term for the ball-and-socket joint that allows both of your arms to move freely. Recent statistics indicate that roughly 15 out of every 1,000 medical patients sees a physician about shoulder pain, and some studies suggest 70 percent of adults will experience shoulder pain at least once during their lifetime.
The shoulder joint consists of three bones: the clavicle , scapula , and humerus . According to the Mayo Clinic, shoulder pain can also develop from a wide range of injuries and medical conditions. These include the following:
- Broken arm or collarbone
If you experience other symptoms along with the shoulder pain, such as shortness of breath or an uncomfortable tightening sensation in the chest, you should call 911 immediately these could be signs of a more serious condition. Sudden pain, swelling, warmth, and/or loss of movement may necessitate a visit to the emergency room or your physicians office.
The Cleveland Clinic also notes several treatment methods for ongoing shoulder pain. Less invasive options include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications or injections, or simply resting until the pain subsides. You may need to undergo certain medical procedures if the pain persists or worsens over time. Surgical treatments for shoulder pain include arthroscopy, open shoulder surgery, shoulder resurfacing, and replacement.
What Pillow Materials Are Best For Shoulder Pain
The best pillow materials include memory foam, buckwheat hulls, latex, and other fills that provide sufficient support to keep the head and neck upright and aligned with the spine. If a pillow sinks too much or loses shape quickly, the potential for more shoulder pain increases.
Viscoelastic polyurethane foam memory foam for short is engineered to soften when exposed to body heat and return to its former shape when the heat is removed. By contouring close to the body, memory foam can alleviate pain and pressure around the neck and shoulders.
Solid memory foam is used to construct many wedge and specialty pillows for neck pain, including a few of our top picks listed above. Shredded memory foam does not provide the same level of support, but many models with this fill offer adjustable loft.
Buckwheat pillows are filled with hulls, the hard outer casings of buckwheat kernels. They tend to be quite firm but also highly supportive, so your head and neck wont sink too deeply into the surface. Buckwheat pillows also offer adjustable loft. By adding or removing the hulls, you can make the pillow more comfortable for different sleep positions.
Latex is a naturally resilient material derived from the sappy extract of rubber trees. It provides gentle contouring and wont conform as closely as memory foam, but latex is also highly durable and wont flatten as easily.
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Best Pillow For Neck Pain Overall: Coop Home Goods The Original Pillow
Why We Like It: The Original pillow uses hypoallergenic, memory-foam-and-microfiber fill, which you can take out or add in for a thicker or thinner pillow, depending on your needs.
Its Worth Noting: It may be too soft for those who prefer a firm pillow.
Our best overall choice for a pillow that relieves neck pain is Coop, The Original from Coop Home Goods because of its versatility. One thing that all three of our experts made clear: There isnt a one-size-fits-all best pillow for people with neck pain. Your body shape, sleep position, and personal pain points all come into play for what will be comfortable for youwhich is why the adjustability of this pillow from Coop Home Goods is your universal best bet.
The Original Pillow comes standard with a healthy loft but then, it has a zipper opening so you can take out some of the fill to make a flatter pillow, or add more in from the included extra half-pound of fill for an even higher loft. So, if your sleep position or pain points change, you can adjust the same pillow instead of having to buy a new one.
What makes it stand out from other adjustable pillows is that the Coop Original is filled with medium-firm fill made from memory foam and microfiber. Not only do you get the natural body-conforming features of memory foam, but it’s also hypoallergenic and GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US® certified, so it won’t cause irritation.
Price at time of publication: $72
Lay On The Pillow For At Least 15 Minutes
Susan J. Gordon research professor at the Flinders University College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Adelaide, Australia, who has studied the effect of pillow types in relation to sleep quality and their effect on waking back and neck pain, recommends laying on a pillow for at least 15 minutes to try it out. Thats the time it takes for the body to fully settle so youll know whether or not the pillow is right for you.
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How To Choose A Pillow For Shoulder Pain
Finding a new pillow to reduce shoulder pain might seem like a straightforward task, but there are several factors to consider based on your body type, normal sleep position, firmness and thickness preferences, and level of pain. Below, well list some of the most important variables to take into account when choosing a pillow and discuss the most common pillow types based on fill material.
Common Causes Of Neck Pain
Research shows that about 30 percent of the population experiences neck pain at some point during their lives, typically during middle age. It’s a very common cause of discomfort that can affect people of all ages, says W. Christopher Winter, MD, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine.
Neck pain isn’t usually a cause for concern, but rather an annoyance. In younger people, neck pain is more commonly caused by injuries from exercise, Dr. Winter says. As we get older, degeneration starts to set in, and arthritis, pinched nerves, and herniated discs can all contribute to neck pain. And certain environmental factorslike the way you sit at a desk, exercise, and sleepcan make matters worse.
In particular, if you’ve been using the same old pillow every night for years, it may not be doing you any favors. “Many people are using pillows that have not been selected for their own body size and neck configuration,” Dr. Winter says. “It’s just the pillow that was around.”
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Best For Back Sleepers: Core Products Tri
Why We Like It: This cervical pillow design helps cradle the head and support the neck while sleeping on your back.
Its Worth Noting: The polyester fiber fill can trap heat, so it may not suit hot sleepers.
Back sleepers should look for a flatter pillow to help keep your necks natural curve, explains New Jersey-based Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon. The Casper Original Low Loft Pillow, our pick for stomach sleepers, will work well for back sleepers, too. But Dr. Shah says that many people who sleep on their back also like a cut-out pillow since it helps cradle the head.
This cervical pillow from Core Products is a simple design with a center cradle for your head. It has a low, firm bolster at the bottom to support the natural curve of your neck for people with small frames, and a larger, firm bolster at the top for folks with a big frame. The raised sides help keep your head nestled in, too. This pillow provides firm support for the therapeutic benefits to your neck. However, the polyester fiber fill may retain heat.
Bear in mind that a cut-out cervical pillow may take time for your body to adjust to it. To start, alternate with a traditional pillow every other night for two weeks. If you occasionally roll on your side during sleep, this pillow is not for you, because it is not meant for side sleeping at all.
Price at time of publication: $46
- Trial or guarantee: 100% satisfaction guarantee
How We Selected The Pillows For Neck Pain
To determine what features in a pillow are best for neck pain, we spoke with three experts about what qualities to look for in a pillow to ease and prevent neck pain. They also shared which products they recommend to patients.
The experts we spoke to include:
- Kevin Lees, DC, manager of auditing and quality at The Joint Chiropractic
- Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon based in New Jersey
- James D. Lin, MD, spine surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
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How Long Does A Pillow Last
An excellent place to start when determining how long any product will last is to look at the warranty. The median warranty length of the 16 pillows we tested was 2.5 years. This is a reasonable amount of time to expect your pillow to last, especially considering your comfort preferences will change over time, often necessitating a new pillow.
Remember warranties typically only cover flaws in the pillow’s construction or extreme degradation while used normally. The warranty may not cover replacement if the pillow is destroyed due to an accident, such as a spill. To protect against spills, we recommend buying a pillow protector.
Once you’re done with your pillow, you have several options for repurposing, donating, or recycling it. If you have a pet, they may enjoy using it as a bed. Or, if your pillow is still in great shape, you might donate it to an animal shelter, homeless shelter, daycare facility, or charity in your area. If you go this route, check with the facility before dropping it off since many organizations do not accept used pillows.
If you can’t repurpose or donate your pillow, look for a textile recycling facility in your area.
$12499 From $9999 At Eli & Elm
The supportive Eli & Elm Side Sleeper pillow has a curved cutout that creates room for your shoulder when sleeping on your side, setting this pillow apart from the rest. We found the extra room quite comfortable and also appreciated how it let us hold onto the edges of the pillow while sleeping on our side, keeping our arms and hands more comfortable too. As a bonus, we loved that we felt like we were cradled when we slept on our backs too, so its a great choice if you shift positions often.
The pillow is filled with a blend of latex and polyester that is adjustable and removable. Similar to other adjustable pillows, you can take out as much fill as you want to achieve the exact height and firmness level thats most comfortable. We found the pillow came with plenty of fill for those that like a firm pillow, though we had to remove some to soften it up. If you like an extra-firm pillow, Eli & Elm offers an option to buy extra fill. It took a few nights of trial and error before we figured out the optimal amount of fill, but once we did we found the pillow very comfortable.
The Side Sleeper has two slight drawbacks. First, we found that the pillow sleeps slightly hot not so much so it disturbed our sleep but if you are sensitive you may want to keep that in mind or plan to accessorize with some of our recommendations for hot sleepers.
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Shoulder Pillow Side Sleeper Combines A C
A fantastic solution for side sleepers, the shoulder pillow side sleeper supports the head and neck with a soft, yet supporting memory foam, while allowing your shoulder correct positioning. Neck and shoulder pain is common due to the muscle connections between the two areas. Trapezius myalgia is one such condition, as well as cervical spine and shoulder problems that can benefit from a more relaxed shoulder position when sleeping. Relief when sleeping is often difficult and frustrating. While some pillows use angles and various filling materials, you will have a difficult time finding a pillow that is as comfortable as this one.
Because the foam is soft and conforming, the loft height of 5.5 inches is accommodating to your anatomy. It is soft enough to sleep on your back for those side sleepers who occasionally lay on your back between sides, but specializes in side sleeping. The shoulder is not altered by stressful angles and the spine-shoulder interface is maintained for relaxation and stress reduction. 100% Tencel® fiber cover which can be removed and washed.