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Posted on 09-08-2017

How does sleeping on a Cervical Pillow help with neck pain and headaches?

Finding a proper fitting cervical pillow is important for your neck to maintain proper neutral alignment while you sleep.  Neck pain and headaches can be caused or increased by having a head that is kept too high or too low while sleeping.  This improper positioning over stretches the neck muscles and puts stress on the nerves and joints in the cervical spine.  When proper neutral alignment is achieved during sleep along with spinal alignment with Chiropractic adjustments, the result is a relaxed and properly supported tissues in the neck which will result in a decrease in neck pain and headaches. 

How to pick a proper pillow:

First let’s ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Are you a back sleeper, a side sleeper or both?  If you’re a back sleeper you will not need as thick of a pillow.  However, if you sleep both on your side and your back you may find a contour pillow or a pillow with wings more desirable.

  1. What is your height and weight?  “The Fit” A 5ft 2in, 125lb female patient will find that a pillow made for a 6ft 2in, 250lb male will not be a good fit for them.  What typically happens when you go to the store to buy your pillow is you’ll find a huge variety of choices that more than likely will not only offer enough support for your neck but also will not be the right size for you. When you are specially fitted with a custom pillow at my office, it is designed specifically off of your individual neck and shoulder measurements, fill preference, and body weight. On the other hand, general fit pillows, which have a slightly lower cost point than a custom fit pillow, may come in several different sizes such as small, medium, and large to offer more of an appropriate size for individuals.

  1. What is you preferred filling type?  Most times I find patients like a certain type of feel to their pillow.  Some patients like firm pillows and some prefer a softer feel.  The key is to find a supportive pillow while still providing support for proper alignment to the neck.  There are several types of different materials to choose from.  Most popular at our office are foam pillows, pillows with fiber filled layer over the supportive layer (for those who like a softer feel) and memory foam pillows.  Pillows made entirely of feathers or fiber fill will probably not provide a good support for the cervical spine due to both the moldability and wearability of the pillow.

I recommend to patients that they bring their pillow in during their regularly scheduled visit, so we can see if it’s properly supporting their neck and head.  If you have any questions about whether or not your pillow is a good fit please call our office to schedule and evaluation at 860-415-9345.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Jennifer Welch, DC, DABCI

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