Every week I get asked this question from my patients about what the best pillow is for their neck pain. In my quest to best answer this question, I’ve invested in about $1000 dollars worth of pillows myself. What I can tell you for sure is…it depends! After all, no two necks are exactly the same.
What position do you sleep on? Is your neck stiff and tight? Is it hyper-mobile or unstable? Do you suffer from allergies? Do you have associated headaches or jaw pain? The answers to these questions may very well determine what pillow is best for you.
So, where do you start? Here’s the general rule of thumb I give my patients.
If you are mostly a back sleeper, you will likely need a thinner pillow that supports your head. If your neck needs more support than the thinner pillow, roll up a small towel and add it to the pillow to give your neck more support.
If you are mostly a side sleeper, you might need a much thicker pillow to support the weight of your head and give you enough space for your shoulders in order to keep your neck in as much of a neutral position as able.
I generally don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach for many other reasons and to my knowledge, there is no decent pillow out there for this position.
If your neck is generally tight and stiff, you will likely do better with a softer pillow and vise versa.
If you have headaches and or jaw pain, there might not be a pillow comfortable enough for your neck until you get your neck impairments corrected first.
- In most cases, if you have struggled with finding the right pillow for your neck, you are likely feeling some level of neck dysfunction brewing and the pattern I see from my patients is waiting too long until the pain comes first before seeking help from your PT for life. Don’t wait. Most insurances allow direct access for you to seek help from Kintsugi Physical Therapy!