Neck or cervical spine pain impedes your productivity and harms your quality of life. Chronic neck pain fuels irritability, anxiety, and depression.
In this article, you’ll learn more about curing neck pain with a cervical pillow.
Neck pain explained!
Neck pain has several discrete causes; however, irritation to the nerves or muscle injury seems to be the most common ones.
Table: Neck pain classification on the basis of duration.
Less than 4 weeks
4 to 12 weeks
3 or more months
In a 3 months period, 15% of adults in the United States experience neck pain for at least one whole day. Generally, the pain goes away within a few days or weeks.
But if the pain lasts for more than 12 weeks, then it is chronic and must be checked out by a certified medical professional.
Further, the pain may be at a single spot or radiate along nerve pathways into your shoulders and arms. Muscle spasms and stiffness can often accompany neck pain.
Red flag signs of neck pain
You should get an immediate diagnosis from your doctor if the pain:
- Radiates down into your shoulders, arms, or leg(s)
- is accompanied by chills and fever
- Leads to a lack of balance and coordination
- is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
Neck pain cure
Acute neck pain can be alleviated with self-care. Resting and icing the area are recommended. Further, improving your sitting, standing, and sleeping posture can make a huge difference.
For chronic neck pain, your doctor will recommend the proper therapy or procedure to get rid of the underlying issue and relieve the symptoms.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
The symptoms of neck pain include:
- Sharp pain at one point
- Soreness in and around the pain area
- Pain radiating down the nerve pathway into the shoulders or arms
- Problems with reflexes, strength, and balance
Neck pain can even cause difficulty in falling asleep. If the pain is too much, then it is better to avoid activities such as driving or lifting.
In rare cases, neck pain can also be psychosomatic or idiopathic.
Neck Pain Causes
Neck pain can have several causes, some of which are explained below:
- Muscle injury: injury because of whiplash or while lifting heavy objects.
- Wrong posture: repeatedly following wrong sleeping, sitting, and standing posture.
- Cervical spondylosis: spinal degeneration occurring in the neck region.
- Herniated disk: protrusion from a cervical disk pressing upon a nerve root.
- Fibromyalgia: widespread pain at different points in the body.
While pain caused by injury and posture problems can be corrected easily, chronic neck pain can have several complex causes that may be difficult to treat.
Treating neck pain with a pillow
Neck pain caused by posture problems can be easily fixed by using the right type of pillow: an orthopedic cervical pillow.
Orthopedic cervical pillows are specifically designed to relieve neck pain by:
- Providing better support to the cervical spine
- Maintaining better alignment of the neck with the rest of the spine.
Benefits of a cervical pillow with memory foam
Cervical pillows come with different fill materials. However, we recommend that you get one with a memory foam fill.
Memory foam perfectly complements the unique design of a cervical pillow.
Here are the benefits of an orthopedic cervical pillow with memory foam:
Butterfly design for better support and alignment
Because of its unique design, a cervical pillow is able to provide consistent support to your neck when you’re sleeping.
When you rest your head in the provided depression, the portruted part provides support to the neck, minimizing stress on your cervical spine.
Further, the pillow is designed to maintain good head and neck alignment with the rest of the spine at all times.
Overtime, the neck heals and your pain disappears.
Memory foam cradles the neck
When you rest your head on a pillow made of memory foam, the pillow cradles your head and neck.
Because of its viscoelasticity, memory foam molds when heat or pressure is applied on it. So when you lay down your head on the pillow, it is able to provide good support to your neck.
As durable as a diamond
Coming back to its viscoelasticity, memory foam bounces back to regain its original shape as soon as pressure and heat are removed from it.
So when you get off the pillow, it gets back to its original shape and, unlike traditional pillows made of down, feather, and cotton, doesn’t flatten out with use.
Apart from this, memory foam is a very dense material, so dense that it is impermeable. So dust and dust mites aren’t able to reside within the pillow.
Because of these properties, memory foam lasts for a very long time.
Once your neck pain is healed, we recommend that you rely on a solid memory foam pillow or a shredded memory foam pillow in order to avoid going through the same predicament all over again.
Sleeping Position and Posture
As you may have guessed it, cervical pillows are no magic cure. They aren’t an elixir that’d solve all your neck pain issues.
So let’s look at the factor that is most responsible for curing and preventing neck pain - sleeping position and posture.
Table: Pillow recommendation for different sleeping positions
Place a pillow beneath the knees
Place a pillow between the knees
3 inches or less
Place a pillow beneath the lower abdomen
Many of us are combination sleepers - those who like to change sleeping positions regularly.
So let's look at the correct posture for each sleeping position type.
Apart from people who snore or suffer from sleep apnea, everyone else should sleep on their back.
Sleeping on your back minimizes the pressure from the lumbar spine and maintains the curvature of the spine.
Benefits of sleeping on your back include:
- Offers relief from neck and lower back pain
- Doesn’t induce headaches
- May prevent wrinkling on face
Tips for back sleepers
Get a pillow that:
- Has a loft of 4-6 inches
- Is medium-firm
Also, place a pillow beneath your knees. By simply elevating the knees, you enable your lumbar spine to be in a neutral position, reducing the stress from it.
Side sleeping has its own pros and cons. For one, it is highly recommended for people who snore or suffer from sleep apnea.
Further, there are some key health benefits associated with side sleeping, benefits that can only be availed by following the proper posture.
Benefits of side sleeping include:
- Reduced snoring
- Relief from sleep apnea
- Reduced pain from chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia
Although sleeping on your left side is considered more beneficial, there exists little scientific evidence to back this claim.
Tips for side sleepers
Get a pillow that:
- Has a loft of 5-7 inches
- Is firm
Also, purchase a mattress that provides a good amount of support to your joints but also doesn’t feel like a rock.
Place a pillow between your knees. This helps in maintaining better spine alignment and prevents the upper leg from sliding down onto the mattress.
It is better to not sleep with your legs straightened out. Simply pull the knees slightly towards your chin to reduce pressure from the lumbar spine.
And place your hand either besides or below your neck or face. People who’ve acne should place the hand below their neck.
Some people just like to crash face first into the pillow. It may make them forget about their anxiety provoking thoughts, but it’s very bad for the health of their spine.
When you sleep on your stomach, it puts a lot of stress on your cervical and lumbar spine. Because of too much curvature in the spine, the disks get damaged.
And it is very important for you to change your sleeping position while you have neck pain.
Although not recommended, once the neck pain is healed, you can go back to sleeping on your stomach.
Tips for stomach sleepers
Get a pillow that:
- Is as flat as possible. Loft should be 3 inches or less
- Is super soft and breathable
Place a pillow beneath your lower abdomen to alleviate the pressure from the lumbar spine and bring it into a more neutral position.
Getting rid of neck pain and stiffness can be a long and arduous journey. But once you get the right pillow and correct your sleeping posture, you can bid adieu to neck pain for the rest of your life.
Q. Do cervical pillows really work?
A. Yes, if your neck pain is caused by incorrect posture or muscle injury. In other instances, they provide relief from neck pain.
Q. How long do cervical pillows last?
A. That depends entirely on the material for the fill. A memory foam pillow can last you more than 5 years because of the durable nature of the material.
Q. Should I use a cervical pillow after my neck pain is gone?
A. If you find it better than a normal pillow, then yes. However, we recommend that you go for a memory foam pillow, as it helps in maintaining good alignment and provides better support to your neck.
Q. When should I go to the doctor to get my neck pain checked?
A. If the pain is chronic or there are red flag signs mentioned in this article, then you should go to a doctor as soon as possible.