Is your pillow a pain in the neck?

You may have referred to a person or an annoyance as a “pain in the neck” before. Real neck pain is bothersome, annoying, and hard to ignore. It’s also fairly common and treatable with chiropractic manipulation and a change in habits. Other conditions may be more severe, but sometimes the answer is simply taking a closer look at day to day habits which contribute to neck pain. Could your pillow be causing or contributing to the pain in your neck?

What is neck pain?

Chances are you know exactly how it feels. Your muscles are tense, it hurts to move your head side to side, the slightest movement can cause extreme pain, or you may have consistent throbbing in your neck and shoulders that shoots down your arm. What causes this to happen?

Neck pain is common for a lot of people and can result from a number of variables:

Strained muscles – perhaps the most common. Muscle strain can be caused by spending too many hours hunched over at a desk or steering wheel, stress, or simple activates like sleeping or reading.

Worn out joints – as you age, your neck goes through regular wear and tear and pain becomes more common.

Injuries – such as whiplash which commonly occurs from being rear ended, causes the head to jerk backward and forward. This stretches the soft tissue in your neck further than it’s supposed to go and causes injury.

Compression on your nerves – bone spurs or herniated discs can create pressure on your nerves and cause pain.

Diseases – these are perhaps less common, but neck pain can be associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or bacterial infections such as meningitis.

What are the best sleeping positions to avoid neck pain?

A good night sleep repairs and rejuvenates your body so you’re ready to take on the day. If you’re waking up tired or in pain, this may be avoided by simply changing your sleeping patterns.

Are you a stomach sleeper? Chances are this could be contributing to your neck pain. Stomach sleeping arches your back as your neck is turned to the side and causes pressure on your spine.

The best positions for sleeping are on your back and your side. Sleeping on your side keeps your spine aligned as it remains in neutral spine from your neck all the way down your back. This puts less pressure on your spine and alleviates muscle strain in your neck.

Though sleeping patterns and positions are set early in life and can be hard habits to break, it’s worth a try going to bed in the correct, supported position. Though you rarely awake in the same position you started, at least you’re starting the night out right!

How do you choose the best pillow for neck pain?

Choosing the proper pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck is important. Unfortunately, no specific pillow will work for everybody. The best pillow is one that keeps your spine neutral. If your pillow is too high or too low it causes a misalignment of your spine.

Also, take into consideration your sleeping positions when choosing a pillow. If you rotate from your side to your back throughout the night, you’ll want one that is adjustable to suit both positions.

So many pillows! How do you choose?

Choosing the best pillow may include trial and error. Popular options include:

  • Orthopedic pillows – designed to follow the curve of your neck.
  • Cervical pillows – roll pillows designed to keep your natural shape while you sleep and relieve neck stress.
  • Feather pillows – mold to fit the shape of your neck and head.
  • Water pillows – provides adjustable support and redistributes weight.

Take a look at your pillow before you go to sleep tonight and evaluate if this could be contributing to your neck pain. If so, consider some of these other options and find the best option that works for you. Your comfort and your sleep are worth it!