Best Orthopedic Pillows to be Free of Back Pain

An orthopedic pillow by providing proper support to the spine helps fight spinal degeneration and other spinal disorders such as spondylosis and arthritis. Most of all, orthopedic pillows, such as the cervical neck pillow or the contour neck pillows, help you sleep well and wake up with, hopefully, no back pain. Moreover, orthopedic pillows, like the contour neck pillows, are also sometimes referred to as therapeutic pillows.

Do Sleeping Positions Change?

Especially relevant, observational studies show that adults change their sleeping position an average of 11 to 13 times during the night.

Indeed, a majority of sleep time is in the side sleeping position. However, adults only spend 59 to 73 percent of their sleep time in the side lying position. Consequently, 27 to 41 percent of sleep time is in the back position.

Therefore, choosing a pillow specifically designed for side sleepers may not work when you sleep on your back and vice versa. In fact, a side sleeping pillow may cause problems for those who change positions during the night and sleep on their backs. Similarly, a back sleeping pillow may cause problems for those who change to sleeping on their sides.

Therefore, if you do get a pillow designed for only side sleepers, first verify that you always sleep in that position all night long. Ultimately, a good pillow should allow the free motion of sleeping position changes during the night.

Most noteworthy, there are many factors that influence the number of sleep position changes during sleep. Some of these factors include:

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    First, not feeling well
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    Next, sleep apnea
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    Also, drinking caffeine and/or eating heavy meals before bed
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    In addition, alcohol initially decreases sleeping position changes. However, sleeping position changes increase later in the night.
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    Next, dreams
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    Also, uncomfortable beds
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    In addition, room temperatures that are either too low or too high
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    Next, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings
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    Also, noise permeating into the sleeping area
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    Finally, anxiety and stress

What are Orthopedic Pillows for the Neck?

Most of all, orthopedic pillows such as cervical neck pillows are used to:

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    First, prevent cervical hypolordosis. In fact, hypolordosis is a condition where the curvature of the spine is less than normal.
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    Next, relieve cervical spasms
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    Also, remove minor tensions or strains
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    Finally, maintain or resume the natural cervical lordotic curve while at rest

Benefits and Use of Cervical Neck Pillows

Most of all, by providing proper neck support, cervical neck pillows help with:

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    Tension headaches
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    Neck muscle and joint strains and sprains
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    Morning hand stiffness and swelling
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    Temporomandibular disorders
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    Whiplash injuries

Features of Cervical Neck Pillows

Traditional pillows work fine at first, but then they flatten out and stop providing support for the head and neck. On the other hand, a cervical neck pillow provides support and comfort to the neck and head. Most noteworthy, the cervical neck pillow’s contour and it’s content provides support and comfort. In fact, a pillow that is lacking in these features may end up causing increased pain, discomfort, pressure, headaches, or simply a loss of sleep. For example, a pillow that has the wrong contour and/or made from low quality material may be too hard, create heat, has allergens, or can harbor microbes or dust mites. By the way, if dust mites are a problem in your bedroom, its good to filter the air in your bedroom and vacuum the floor, especially if the floor is carpeted.

Now, a cervical neck pillow:

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    First, properly support the neck
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    Second, should lift and support the head
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    Next, should be made of non-toxic foam that is certified to not emit any harmful gases
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    Also, should be resistant to dust mites
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    Next, should be antimicrobial and hypoallergenic
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    Finally, should not contain any metals, toxins or flame retardants

In conclusion, an ideal cervical neck pillow keeps your body in a neutral sleeping position. Indeed, this neutral sleeping position keeps your back and neck in their ideal position. As a result, there is no unnecessary pressure on the spine’s discs, muscles and nerves.

Back Sleeper Needs for Neck Orthopedic Pillows

For a back sleeper, a cervical pillow must have the right height. In fact, if it’s too high, the pillow will push the head forward. And, if it’s too low, the head will be too low and not in alignment with the spine.

Side Sleeper Needs for Neck Orthopedic Pillows

For side sleepers, the orthopedic pillows should have the right height to main alignment with the spine. Not too low nor too high.

Stomach Sleeper Needs for Neck Orthopedic Pillows

Sleeping on your stomach is tough on your spine, because the back has an excessive arc and the neck is turned to the side. Stomach sleeping places too much strain on neck joints and muscles. Consequently, a very low height pillow or even no pillow is best. Most of all, it is important not to use a firm or higher height pillow, especially with a soft mattress.

The best pillow for stomach sleepers is a cervical pillow for stomach sleepers in that it is designed for that purpose along with options for back and side sleeping. In fact, the cervical pillow allows stomach sleeping with a better cervical posture, reducing rotational and extensional damage that can cause neck problems, as well as providing better air flow. In addition, the cervical pillow is a very versatile pillow in that you can use it for any sleeping position, making it the ideal pillow to transition from stomach to side and back sleeping.

Meanwhile, preferred sleeping positions are often set early in life and can be tough to change, not to mention that we don't often wake up in the same position in which we fell asleep. Still, it's worth trying to start sleeping on your back or side in a well-supported, healthy position.

Finally, placing a flat pillow under the stomach and pelvis area can help to keep the spine in better alignment.

What is the Best Sleeping Position for Cervical Pain?

Two sleeping positions are easiest on the neck, on your side or on your back. If you sleep on your back, choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning your head. This can be achieved by tucking a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a flatter, softer pillow, or by using a special pillow that has a built-in neck support with an indentation for the head to rest in. Here are some additional tips for side-sleepers and back-sleepers.

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    First, try using a feather pillow, which easily conforms to the shape of the neck. Regrettably, feather pillows will collapse over time, however, and should be replaced every year or so.
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    Also, another option is a traditionally shaped pillow with "memory foam" that conforms to the contour of your head and neck. In addition, some cervical pillows are also made with memory foam. Lastly, manufacturers of memory-foam pillows claim they help foster proper spinal alignment.
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    Next, avoid using too high or stiff pillow, which keeps the neck flexed overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness
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    Finally, if you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head

Getting the Right Orthopedic Pillow

Above all, most reputable pillow companies do not allow returns due to Federal and State Health Regulations regarding bedding or contaminable items.

Also, companies offering money back guarantees are usually selling very cheap pillows. In fact, there has been a flood of very cheap pillows. Meanwhile, companies usually do not make it easy to return pillows. In theory, companies should dispose of returned pillows and not repackage and re-sell. In fact, many companies play the odds that, even if you don’t like it, you will not go through the trouble of returning the pillow.

There are usually multiple conditions and factors related to neck pain. Therefore, it is usually best to find a pillow that suits your particular sleeping conditions and comfort requirements. In general, softer – more accommodating pillows are recommended for more painful conditions such as from injury or inflammation. Once past this point, a firmer pillow can be used if well tolerated.

Especially relevant, a transition phase from an accommodating pillow to a firmer or different design pillow can be challenging and should only be attempted when pain and discomfort levels are no longer tolerated by the existing cervical pillow.

Buckwheat Orthopedic Pillows

Pillows filled with buckwheat mold to the neck and upper shoulders. However, unless this orthopedic pillow is designed so the amount of buckwheat can be changed, the pillow may be too thick or too thin and won’t allow spinal alignment.

Moreover, high-quality buckwheat pillows always have a zipper. And this zipper helps you adjust the amount of buckwheat hulls in the pillow. As a result, you’re able to change the thickness of your pillow.

In addition, the irregular and hollow shaped buckwheat hulls create airspace inside the pillow. Consequently, buckwheat pillows are cool and dry. Finally, chemical fertilizers are rarely, if ever, used on buckwheat crops. Consequently, buckwheat hulls are free of many of these contaminants. However, buckwheat pillows tend to be noisy.

Contour Neck Orthopedic Pillows

You can purchase contour neck pillows made from memory foam. Moreover, these contour neck pillows have chemical properties that allow the contour neck pillow to mold to your body. Furthermore, after you get out of bed, the contour neck pillow returns to its original shape. Consequently, a contour neck pillow provides consistent support and help you prevent neck pain.

However, the foam in the contour neck pillow can sometimes build up heat depending on the temperature in your sleeping environment. Indeed, great alternatives are gel foam cooling contour neck pillows that use a cooler technology in soft memory foam to control and release the build-up of heat. Buckwheat Pillows are also a good option for keeping your head cooler in warmer environments if you like firm pillows.

Orthopedic Pillows with Separate Back & Side Sleeping Areas

It is important to know if you are aware of deliberately changing sleep positions while sleeping. Or, do you not wake up and unconsciously change sleep positions while sleeping. There are cervical pillows with multiple height areas. These cervical pillows are very popular. However, they do require deliberate positioning from the back area to the side area and from the side are to the back area.

The thing to keep in mind is that if you are asleep and unaware that you are changing positions a lot, you may find yourself waking in wrong areas of the pillow.

The idea for a multiple height pillow is good in that back sleeping requires a lower pillow height while side sleeping required a higher pillow height because of the shoulders. Indeed, multiple height pillows provide great support. By the way, the most popular of these is the so called “Orthopedic Pillow”. In fact, this pillow has soft angled transitions making it easy to change sleep positions. Also, this pillow is very good in that it can be measured to fit well and keeps a good posture for both side and back sleeping.

And, if you are a strict side sleeper, the so called “Side Sleeper Pillow” is an option that provides soft support and height for your shoulders, however, it is mainly for side sleeping.

On the other hand, if you are unaware of your changing sleeping positions, pillows with a continuous surface work well. Also, you may find that an adjustable pillow may help get better pillow height for different sleep positions. Next, there is the question of a pillow’s firmness - which is determined by the quality and quantity of material that can be adjusted.

Other Orthopedic Pillows for the Neck

Especially relevant, a soft memory foam orthopedic pillow is a great solution for more advanced degenerative conditions. Also, for adults and children, the so called “chiropractic pillow” gives you sizing options and a sound ergonomic design.

Next, the latex pillow uses high end Talalay processed latex and is very good for neck conditions, whereas the dunlop latex pillow tends to be bouncy. Furthermore, there are pillows that use zones that allow a traditional shaped pillow to function like a contour pillow. These memory foam pillows also have an option for natural infused aromatherapy like lavender and are a great combination of softness and firmness. Finally, these orthopedic pillows are also available in a special side sleeping version.

What are Orthopedic Pillows for the Lumbar Region?

First and foremost, the lumbar spine is part of your lower back. Furthermore, the spine curves in toward your belly and then back out toward the sacrum. And, in the sacrum your pelvis connects with the spine’s fused lower vertebrae.

Most of all, the purpose of these curves is proper weight distribution. Indeed, the lower vertebrae of your lumbar spine support the weight of your entire torso. Because of that, the lower vertebrae are prone to stress. For example, after years of wear and tear, the soft discs between your lower vertebrae can start to bulge. As a result, the soft discs put pressure on the nerves surrounding them. And this pressure can lead to symptoms including numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness.

Therefore, it’s essential to protect your back while you sleep. In fact, if you don’t have proper lumbar support, your hips and shoulders will sink into the bed and your natural spinal curve will be flattened out. In fact, sleeping on a bad mattress on a nightly basis can lead to lower back pain as well as early onset of arthritis or other symptoms like pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.

Therefore, to better support your body, place an orthopedic pillow, like the lumbar pillow, under your pelvis and lumbar region.

Because the weight of their hips and belly pulls their lower spine down into the mattress, stomach-sleepers have the worst sleep position. Indeed, these sleepers are prone to lower back problems.

What are Orthopedic Pillows for the Knee?

First and foremost, a knee pillow is an orthopedic pillow meant only for side sleepers only. Indeed, sleeping on the side causes the upper leg to pull the spine out of alignment. Consequently, this puts stress on the hips and lower back. Therefore, if you are a side sleeper, use a firm pillow between the knees. In fact, this knee pillow, an orthopedic pillow, prevents the upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment. Also, don’t forget to pull your knees up slightly toward your chest. Finally, a knee pillow improves blood circulation in the legs.

Because of its ability to respond to heat, knee pillows use memory foam. As a result, when the room becomes colder, the knee pillow becomes firmer. On the other hand, when the room becomes warmer the knee pillow becomes softer.

In addition, a knee pillow made of memory foam automatically adjusts to the contour of your knees but reverts back to its original shape when you don’t use it. Meanwhile, a hypoallergenic knee pillow is free from common allergens.

For those who have osteoarthritis, an orthopedic pillow like the knee pillow is actually a knee pad that does not slip when you get up. It is often used to align the spine properly but also as a solution for pain in the knee from the osteoarthritis.

Next, inflatable knee pillows can be adjusted for firmness, don’t occupy too much space when packed, remove pressure on the knees, and provide support for the lower back and hips as well as reduce any pain associated with those areas.

Side and back sleepers suffering chronically from lower back pain use knee pillow bolsters. Usually around 27 inches long, this type of knee pillow enables you to move in bed without moving the knee pillow.

How to Find Pillow Thickness for Yourself?

One of the biggest challenges of ordering pillows online is figuring out the thickness or height of orthopedic pillows such as cervical pillows, lumbar pillows, and possibly knee pillows. Moreover, the thickness of the pillow has a huge impact on its effectiveness.

So, to get a rough idea of pillow height, stand against a wall in your favorite sleeping positions.

Side Sleepers Using Orthopedic Pillows

First and foremost, stand straight but perpendicular to the wall with your arms against the wall. Next measure the distance from your ears to the wall. This distance represents the thickness of the orthopedic pillow you need with your head resting on the pillow. Consequently, with a firmer orthopedic pillow, this distance is little less that the thickness of the pillow you need. On the other hand, a softer pillow would need to be thicker. Regrettably, the only way to know the thickness of a softer pillow is to try it. However, you do have the minimum thickness of the pillow.

Next, measure the distance of large gaps between your body and the wall. For example, if there is a gap between the hips and the wall, measure that distance. Consequently, to maintain a straight spine, a firm lumbar pillow of that thickness will keep your spine straight.

Next, measure the distance between the knees and the wall. When you lie in bed, the knees would towards the bed, which could cause stress on your hips. So, a pillow between the knees with thickness close to the measured distance will help minimize the stress.

Back Sleepers Using Orthopedic Pillows

First and foremost, stand straight against the wall with the wall behind you. Next measure the distance from the back of the head to the wall. This distance represents the thickness of the orthopedic pillow you need with your head resting on the pillow. Consequently, with a firmer orthopedic pillow, this distance is little less that the thickness of the pillow you need. On the other hand, a thicker softer pillow works. Regrettably, the only way to know the thickness of a softer pillow is to try it. However, you do now know the minimum thickness of the pillow.

Next, measure the distance of large gaps between your body and the wall. For example, if there is a gap between the hips and the wall, measure that distance. Consequently, to maintain a straight spine, a firm lumbar pillow of that thickness keeps your spine straight.

Stomach Sleepers Using Orthopedic Pillows

First and foremost, stand straight against the wall with the wall in front of you. Next, if your head is the only part touching the wall, measure the distance from the wall to the hips. Consequently, to maintain a straight spine, a firm lumbar pillow of that thickness keeps your spine straight. And if there is another gap between the head and the hips, another orthopedic pillow of lesser thickness may be needed to fill that gap.

Is your Spine Aligned When Sleeping in Bed?

First, to answer this question, lay down near the edge of the bed in your favorite sleeping position or positions. Next measure the following distances.

For Back and Stomach Sleepers

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    First, from the middle of the knee joint to the floor
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    Next, from the middle of the hip joint to the floor
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    Next, from the middle of the shoulders to the floor
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    Finally, from the ears to the floor

For Side Sleepers

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    First, from where the knees meet to the floor
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    Next, from the crotch to the floor
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    Next, from the mid-point between the shoulders to the floor
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    Finally, from the nose to the floor

Next, plot these points on a graph paper. And, if you don’t see a straight line, use appropriately sized pillows to get a straight line.

Finally, the other option, is to take a picture with you on the bed and draw a line on the picture between the middle of the knee area to the ears or nose. This lets you know where you need orthopedic pillows to align your spine.