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Choosing Pillow for Neck PainChiropractor's Guide(2023)

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What Kind of Pillow Do Chiropractors Recommend?

As a chiropractor with years of experience in treating neck pain, I often recommend that my patients begin addressing their discomfort by investing in a good pillow for neck support. An ideal pillow should be of the right height and firmness, providing just enough elevation yet still allowing the neck to rest comfortably. Finding this balance is essential, as a pillow that is too high or too low can put extra strain on the cervical spine and exacerbate pain while sleeping.

A good quality pillow can also help to keep the spine properly aligned while sleeping, which is an important factor in managing neck pain. Too soft of a pillow may allow your head to sink too far down into it, leading to excess tension in your neck and shoulders. On the other hand, using a pillow that’s too firm can cause misalignment as it pushes your chin up and strains your neck muscles. To identify the perfect balance between firmness and support, speaking with an experienced chiropractor or physical therapist can be very helpful.

Ultimately, choosing the right pillow for proper neck support is essential for people suffering from chronic neck pain. It can help alleviate pressure points and make sure that you don’t wake up feeling stiff or sore every morning. The best way to ensure you have selected an appropriate pillow is to seek advice from someone knowledgeable about posture and spine alignment – such as a chiropractor – who can determine what kind of cushioning will give you maximum relief from your symptoms.


Property Latex Foam Memory Foam Feather
Firmness Medium-Firm to Firm Soft to Firm Soft
Supportiveness High Medium Low
Conforming to shape Moderate to High High Low
Durability High Moderate Low
Heat retention Low High Low
Allergen resistance High Moderate Moderate
Price Moderate Moderate Low

Latex Pillows

Latex foam pillows have become increasingly popular amongst chiropractors, due to their firm yet supple nature. This makes them capable of quickly returning to their original shape after being compressed, affording the user with an even level of support for their head and neck. For those who sleep mainly on their side, this is a particularly attractive option since it can help maintain the natural curvature of the spine. Additionally, latex foam pillows have superior breathability compared to other pillow types, allowing air to circulate and dissipate body heat more efficiently. This helps keep the user cool while they sleep, making it a great choice for hot sleepers. 

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam is a type of foam that contours to the shape of your body, providing support and pressure relief. It is often used in mattresses, pillows, and other bedding products. One potential downside to memory foam is that it can retain heat, which can make it feel warmer to sleep on. Some people may also be concerned about the chemical off-gassing that can occur with memory foam products. This refers to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as the foam breaks down over time. While the levels of VOCs in memory foam products are generally low and considered safe, some people may still be sensitive to these chemicals.

Feather & Down Pillows

Feather pillows are made from the feathers of ducks or geese and are soft and fluffy. While they may initially feel comfortable, they may not provide the same level of support as other types of pillows, such as those made from foam or memory foam. Feather pillows can also be more prone to flattening over time, which can affect their comfort and support. Additionally, feather pillows may not be suitable for people who are allergic to feathers.


Features to Look For

Feature Function Benefit
Neck Support Provides support for the neck, keeping it in a neutral position Reduces strain on neck muscles and reduces the risk of neck pain
Contours Supports the natural curvature of the neck and spine Reduces strain on neck muscles and reduces the risk of neck pain
Adjustable Height Can be customized to provide the right amount of support Allows individuals to adjust the height of their pillow based on their needs

Neck Support

A pillow with good neck support helps keep the neck in a neutral position, reducing strain on the neck muscles and the risk of neck pain. This can be achieved through the use of firmer materials, such as memory foam or high-density foam, or through the use of a contoured design.


Pillows with contoured shapes, such as those that are thicker in the centre and thinner at the edges, can help to support the natural curvature of the neck and keep the spine in a neutral position. This can help to reduce strain on the neck muscles and reduce the risk of neck pain.

Adjustable Height

Pillows with adjustable height can be customized to provide the right amount of support for an individual’s unique needs. This can be especially helpful for people who need to adjust the height of their pillow depending on the position they sleep in.

Overall, pillows with these features can help to provide good support for the neck and reduce the risk of neck pain. It’s important to note that the best pillow for an individual will depend on their specific needs and preferences, and it may be helpful to try out a few different options to find the one that works best for you.

How the Wrong Pillow Can Impact Your Health and Well-Being 

It is essential to recognize that the wrong pillow can have an immensely negative effect on your health and well-being. Poorly designed pillows can cause stiffness, muscle soreness, and headaches due to straining of the neck muscles during sleep. An improper pillow may also lead to an uncomfortable sleeping position that does not provide adequate support for the spine, resulting in misalignment of the vertebrae which can cause pain and discomfort throughout the day. In addition, sleeping on a bad pillow increases the risk of developing chronic neck and shoulder pains due to constant strain on these areas. 

Furthermore, a lack of proper cervical alignment could lead to nerve compression that could cause tingling sensations in the arms or numbness in your hands. This can severely limit the range of motion and mobility of your body. 

Therefore, it is important to invest in a quality pillow that will provide adequate support for your head and neck during sleep. When choosing a pillow, make sure it’s ergonomically designed with an appropriate thickness level depending on your particular body size and preferred sleeping position (side sleeper or back sleeper). Additionally, look out for pillows made from hypoallergenic materials such as memory foam or latex that will help reduce dust mites or other allergens from entering your respiratory system while you sleep. It is also important to replace your existing pillow every 1-2 years so you don’t miss out on its beneficial effects on your health and wellness.

How long after switching your pillow you can expect to feel better or worse?

Switching your pillow may initially cause discomfort due to the change in support and feel of the new pillow. However, over time it is possible to see an improvement in comfort level while sleeping. 

Generally, it takes a few days for the body to adjust to a new pillow and feel more comfortable. It can take up to two weeks or longer before you might notice any changes if you have neck pain due to an underlying condition. 

A pillow is not a cure-all but can be used as part of a recovery plan, with chiropractic care, physical therapy, and other treatments, as it provides relaxation for muscles and encourages alignment of the spine. 

When switching pillows, it’s important to choose a pillow that best fits your individual needs based on factors such as sleeping position, body type and size, overall health status, preference for firmness or softness, and any other specific requirements; this will ensure that you get the most benefit from using your new pillow. 

Remember that it takes time for your body to adjust fully so give yourself two weeks or more before expecting to notice any real changes in comfort levels or symptoms related to neck issues.

Get the Most Out of Your New Pillow

As a Chiropractor, I recommend following the 6 tips below to ensure that you get the most out of your new pillow choice:

  1. Always choose a pillow suited for your sleeping position– for instance, back sleepers need firmer pillows that offer adequate neck and spine support, while side sleepers need a softer pillow.
  2. Make sure your pillow is elevated enough to keep your neck in a neutral and natural alignment. Most adjustable pillows can be adjusted according to your individual needs so that you are comfortable while sleeping.
  3. Use a pillowcase to protect and keep clean your pillow. This is also useful to maintain the temperature around your head which could help improve the quality of your sleep. 
  4. Replace standard pillows every 1-2 years – this will make sure that they still provide adequate support and maintain their shape over time – while latex pillows can be used up to 7 years before needing replacement. 
  5. Consider adding an additional pillow between your knees at night if you are a side sleeper; this helps to keep the spine in proper alignment even when you’re asleep and helps reduce back pain associated with poor posture during sleep or other daily activities like sitting at work all day long. 
  6. Don’t forget to give yourself some time to adjust when changing from one type of pillow to another – it may take a few days or weeks before you find the version that best suits your needs so don’t give up too soon!
**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Medical Disclaimer: This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Product Disclaimer: The seat cushion is designed by a chiropractor, but results may vary and are not guaranteed. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition.

Tags: new tips
Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


About Me

Dr Lawrence Woods

My name Dr Lawrence Woods DC and I have been designing mattresses, pillows, chairs and seat cushions for over 20 years. As a chiropractor, my goal has always focused on improving the health of my patients by optimizing how they sleep and sit. My designs have been nominated for numerous awards and I continue to be at the forefront of this industry, helping people get the best night’s sleep possible. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West, I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified and an OSHAcadenmy certified ergonomist.


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