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How do I Choose the Best Orthopedic Neck Pillow?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated May 17, 2024
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If you wake each day with neck and back pain, you may wish to try sleeping on an orthopedic neck pillow. While orthopedic neck pillows can vary widely in appearance, composition, and cost, they generally have one common goal: to keep your neck and upper spine in a neutral position as you sleep, thus reducing stress and strain to the area. To choose the best orthopedic neck pillow for you, begin by determining your preferred sleep position. Next, decide what type of pillow material you desire. Finally, narrow down your choices by establishing a price point.

The first step in choosing an orthopedic neck pillow is determining your preferred sleep position. Whether you like to sleep on your side, your back, or your stomach, there is a range of orthopedic neck pillow choices to suit you. Normally, however, the shape of these pillows varies greatly depending on the sleeping position they are intended to support. Therefore, it is important to figure out which position you find most comfortable before purchasing a pillow.

An orthopedic neck pillow designed for side sleepers may feature a cutaway area which allows for comfortable shoulder placement. Pillows for back sleepers often have a soft hump or bar at their base intended to support the neck’s natural curve. Those for stomach sleepers are usually fairly thin and soft, preventing the user from thrusting his neck backward as he sleeps. A pillow’s packaging should specify which sleeping position it is designed to support.

Once you have determined your preferred sleep position, you should consider what type of pillow material you desire. Many models are made from a dense, spongy material known as memory foam. This foam is intended to conform to the unique curves of your body. Other orthopedic neck pillows can be made from environmentally friendly, animal-free, or hypoallergenic materials, making them good choices for environmentally conscious consumers or those with allergies. Again, a pillow’s packaging should indicate what type of material it is made from.

Finally, before attempting to purchase an orthopedic neck pillow, you should establish an ideal price range. This step will help to narrow your pillow choices by eliminating models which fall either below or above that range. After determining your preferred sleeping position, desired material choice, and ideal price range, you can begin the shopping process, visiting stores or browsing online retailers to select a pillow which fulfills all of your criteria.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet , Former Writer
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including WiseGeek. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

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Discussion Comments

By SteamLouis — On Sep 23, 2014

@discographer-- Yes, actually there are. You may have to look around a little bit, or perhaps shop online but you can find it.

Also have you considered an orthopedic pillow with a crevice in the center? Although the pillow is made of the same materials, the center area where the head lies is a bit lower than the rest. So the corners of the pillow fit the arch of the neck and support the neck and the lower area in the center supports the head. This type of orthopedic pillow actually is most effective at maintaining a straight spine during sleep. I highly recommend this type to you.

By discographer — On Sep 23, 2014

@ZipLine-- I still haven't adjusted to my memory foam pillow yet. What I don't like about it is that although the firmness is great for my neck crevice, it doesn't work too well for my head. So I don't feel that my head is as comfortable as it should be.

Is there a type of orthopedic pillow made of two separate materials, one for the neck are and one for the head? I think that's what I need actually.

By ZipLine — On Sep 22, 2014

Memory foam orthopedic pillows are very nice. I finally bought one after suffering from neck pain for a long time and I'm so happy that I did. It did feel a little different for the first two days but I realized that my neck felt absolutely fine in the morning and so did my upper back. I don't think I will use anything else again.

M.C. Huguelet

M.C. Huguelet

Former Writer

Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
Learn more
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