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When you’re spending seven to nine hours in bed every night, it’s incredibly important to ensure you’re supporting your body in a way that avoids any aches or pains in the morning. Though there’s no one best pillow for back pain that will solve all of your discomforts, there are pillows designed to support you based on your sleeping positions and your body composition to give you your best sleep yet.
“The main goal of pillows is to keep your spine supported during sleep and minimize undue stress on the joints of the neck and back,” explains Saad Chaudhary, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive spine surgery.
So, how do you pick out the best pillow for back pain that works for you? We asked the experts for their tips.
How to choose the best pillow for your pain.
When choosing what kind of pillow to purchase for the best support, be sure to consider your sleep positioning. “In general, the head, neck, and shoulders should be aligned while one sleeps,” says Rahul Shah, MD, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon.
Many people will move around in their sleep and change positions throughout the night. Depending on your positioning, using a pillow between your knees or a pillow with a cut out for the head to better support your neck may be helpful, Dr. Shah says. “By using a pillow between the legs, the hips and lower pelvis may be placed in a more comfortable position leading to less irritation of the low back and muscles and helping to improve sleep,” he says.
For side sleepers
dr Shah suggests a firmer pillow for side sleepers. “If you are a side sleeper, a fuller pillow will help make up for the gap between your bed and your upper back and shoulders,” he says. “This helps to keep your neck aligned and avoid any straining.” Additionally, a body pillow or larger pillow can be useful for side sleepers to keep the spine, lower back, neck, and head in a neutral, supportive position, Dr. Chaudhary says.
For stomach sleepers
Neck pain tends to be a common complaint for stomach sleepers, Dr. Shah says. He recommends focusing on finding a pillow for neck pain and support when sleeping on your stomach. This is a personal preference, but a flatter, firmer pillow is likely the most effective, he says.
For back sleepers
A pillow under your knees to allow them to bend slightly is ideal for back sleepers, Dr. Shah says. You can determine the correct size by testing out the pillow so your knees bend just slightly when lying flat on your back, Dr. Chaudhary explains.
Additionally, a cutout neck pillow may also be a good choice for back sleepers. “Proper neck support is critical for back sleeping. A pillow should adequately support the shoulders and neck without causing excessive bending forward or upwards of the head and neck,” Dr. Chaudhary adds.
Back sleepers should also aim for a firmer pillow to best support their neck. “Back and stomach sleepers should search for flatter pillows that help to keep your neck’s natural curve,” Dr. Shah says.
When you should see a doctor about back pain
Though some back pain can be managed or treated at home, there comes a time when your pain should be addressed with your doctor. dr Shah says you should seek medical attention in these scenarios.
- You’re experiencing night sweats on the regular.
- You have fevers along with your pain.
- Your back is swollen or red.
- You have a sudden, unexplained weight loss.
- Your back pain has not improved after seven days of home treatment.
- Your pain is constant or intense, specifically when lying down.
- You have weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs.
Best pillow for back pain
Saatva Latex Pillow
Though there’s no true best pillow out there that fits every individual’s needs, the Saatva Latex Pillow is great for overall comfort and support. It’s made from natural latex, which is buoyant and durable in a way other pillows aren’t. It’s also highly adjustable, supportive, and breathable due to its organic cotton cover and fill.
Best pillow for neck pain
Elviro’s Cervical Memory Foam Pillow
This supportive and comfortable pillow is designed with an arc shape to adapt to your head and neck curve, a center cavity to relieve head pressure, a contour area at the base to ease pressures off of shoulders, and even an armrest. It’s especially useful for those who need extra support of their head, neck, and shoulders when sleeping in any position.
Best pillow for lower back pain
Beckham Hotel Collection Bed Pillows
The down-like fill, cooling gel fiber, and bounce-back design make this pillow perfect for those suffering from lower back pain. Because of its ability to shape perfectly to your needs, it’s a great option to provide extra support below or between your knees, depending on your sleeping position. This will help to align the spine and support your lower back while you rest.
Best pillow for upper back pain
Purple Harmony Pillow
Get no-pressure support from this pillow, designed with a gel layer and latex core to be flexible and supportive to your head and beck. Though any sleeper can benefit from this pillow, those with upper back, shoulder, and neck pain will especially get relief from the super-firm feel. Plus, you can choose from three different heights to get the best fit for you.
Best side sleeper pillow for back pain
Eli and Elm Cotton Side-Sleeper Pillow
Designed with side sleepers in mind, this pillow conforms to your head and neck to support, align your spine, and alleviate any neck pain. You can even change the height of the pillow by removing the latex and polyester filling to adjust to your specific needs.
Best wedge pillow for back pain
To reduce back and neck pain, a wedge pillow under your head, under your knees as an elevation pillow, or between your legs while you sleep can provide the comfortable support you’ve been looking for. Made from gel memory foam, it’s an extra cooling pillow and is comfortable while contouring to your unique curves. We also love that wedge pillows are useful beyond bedtime and can be great to support you while reading or watching tv.
Featuring a hybrid design combining the benefits of a down-like microfiber fill and a memory foam pillow, the pillow gives you the best of both worlds and an ultra-comfortable sleep. You can perfect your comfort layer with adjustable shredded memory foam, and we love it for people who want the support of a memory foam pillow, but the luxury of down filling.
For a fluffy pillow option that still supports and is designed with your body composition in mind, we love this best-selling pillow. It’s made with a down-like microfiber and is a great balance of fluffy and firm to support your head, neck, and shoulders.
GhostBed Memory Foam Pillow
The ergonomic design allows for your spine to stay aligned as you sleep and your head to feel supported throughout the night. The gel-only memory foam core keeps the pillow plush, but firm for those looking for a flatter pillow that’s still super comfortable. What makes this pillow extra special is the cutting-edge cooling technology, which helps to keep you cool and comfortable all night long.
With all the benefits of a cutout pillow, without the cutout, this contour pillow includes a special shallow indent on one side that offers extra support for your head and neck. Made from memory foam that breaths and supports, you can choose whichever side works best for you and let the material melt into your perfect positioning.
The unique mix of fibers and reactive memory foam gives this pillow the ability to mold to your body and shape throughout the night. The pillow is designed to cradle your head and neck for extra support, and you can remove the filling to adjust for your height and preference.
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