There’s a good reason for the common saying that something annoying is a “pain in the neck.” Having neck aches and associated headaches is uncomfortable and can significantly impact daily activities, overall quality of life, and mobility.
What Is Neck Pain?
Neck pain (cervicalgia) is distressing. It can last days or weeks or can be chronic. The pain is in or around the upper (cervical) spine beneath your head. It can present as axial pain, where discomfort is in the neck or radicular, radiating to the shoulders and arms.
Individuals describe the sensation as burning, stabbing, or shooting, and persistent. Other reported symptoms include stiffness, lack of mobility when tilting or turning the head, tingling or numbness in the arms or shoulders, and headaches.
Cervicalgia affects up to 20% of adults annually, while most people will have some cervicalgia at some point. The chances of experiencing neck pain increase with age and among biological females. While unpleasant, most causes are treatable, responding to conservative medication, physical therapy, stress management, and exercise.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
Causes include osteoarthritis, spondylosis, herniated disks, pinched nerves, spinal stenosis, and tumors. Injuries, accidents, aging, and lifestyle issues such as poor posture and physical or mental stress and strain can also cause neck tenderness.
- Aging: Natural wear and tear and deterioration of the cervical spine occur over time. Degenerative conditions include spinal stenosis (the narrowing of spinal spaces, osteoarthritis (joint cartilage wear), and spondylosis (bone spurs/overgrowths). Additionally, repetitive neck movement can create herniated (slipped) disks and pinched nerves.
- Physical strain: Strenuous activities or overuse of the neck muscles can cause pain and stiffness. Also impacting spinal alignment and putting strain on the vertebrae are weak abdominal muscles, heavy body weight, and poor posture. A familiar example of this type of strain is sitting for extended periods at a computer or spending too much time interacting on handheld mobile phones.
The head is heavy (on average around 5kg or 11lbs), with the same load on your neck’s support system (seven vertebrae and around 20 muscles) in a neutral position. In contrast, holding the head at a 45-degree angle to look at your phone increases the load by up to 22kg.
- Stress: Mental and emotional stress causes the body to tense up, often tightening the neck muscles, leading to knots and stiffness. This stress response often goes unnoticed and untended until the neck starts to hurt.
- Accidents and injuries: Whiplash and injuries due to sports, falls, and other trauma can damage the cervical disks and joints, muscles, and ligaments. In addition to muscle strain, these injuries can impact the nerves in the spinal cord and result in cervicalgia.
- Disease: Infections, cysts, tumors, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, myelopathy, and meningitis can all cause cervical pain, which can be temporary or long-term, depending on the cause.
Your neck can also become sore when you’ve slept badly, been in a cramped position for a while, or are fatigued. In these cases, resuming regular activity, rest, and stretching should diminish discomfort.
How is Neck Pain Treated?
If discomfort is ongoing and unresponsive to rest, icing, heating, and stretching, always consult a medical professional. Treatment will vary depending on the cause.
Approaches can include medication for pain and inflammation and physical therapy to strengthen muscles and enhance flexibility. Doctors may also recommend anti-inflammatory steroid injections and electrical modalities such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to dampen and interrupt pain signals.
Most cervicalgia doesn’t warrant surgery. However, severe pain may need a spine or pain specialist, and “mechanical” issues such as herniated or disintegrating disks may require an operation.
Complementary approaches can include massage to help relieve muscle tension, acupuncture to lessen pain, and chiropractic to help realign the spine. Also, consider over-the-counter medications, hot and cold therapy, and stress reduction techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, breathwork, and yoga exercises. Quitting smoking, which accelerates bone and tissue damage and slows healing, is critical.
Discomfort can ease within days or may take several weeks or months to heal. Meanwhile, ensure you rest and keep your neck well-supported while sitting and lying down. To help, explore the numerous ergonomically designed cervical cushions to keep you comfortable.
Selecting Cervical Sleeping Support
Selecting the best support for your neck while resting and recovering is essential. Factors to consider when shortlisting and choosing proper cervical care include:
- Preferred sleeping position: Are you a side, back, or stomach sleeper? Your sleep position is essential to remember, as back sleepers may need a medium, and side sleepers may need a higher loft to maintain proper spine alignment.
- Shape and size: Look for a shape and size that fits the natural neck curve to fit and cradle it comfortably.
- Filling and cover material: Various choices are available, including memory foam, which molds to your shape based on pressure and heat, water-based cushioning, organic buckwheat filling, and latex options. Choose a cover option that’s machine washable and ideally from natural, hypoallergenic fibers to prevent allergic reactions and headaches. It should also be breathable, moisture-wicking, and allow airflow.
- Firmness: How firm or soft your cushion should be depends on personal preference. However, you won’t want anything too soft to support your neck correctly. Options tend to come in different or adaptable heights and firmness choices to suit your body size, shape, and needs.
- Adjustability: To make your pillow versatile and personalized, look for one with adjustable layers or inserts to customize firmness and height according to your needs.
Choose from reputable brands and explore available customer recommendations and reviews. With many brands and choices, finding a pillow to suit your budget should be easy. At the same time, while there are various functional, durable, and value-for-money options in affordable price ranges, ensure you avoid cheap quality that doesn’t work or last.
The Best Buckwheat, Memory Foam, or Latex Pillow for Neck Pain
Talking about user reviews and recommendations, here are a few of the top-rated cervical cushions available online:
Sobakawa Traditional Buckwheat Pillow
- 100% natural cotton cover and buckwheat hull filling provide breathable comfort
- Adjustable fill allows custom support for back, side and stomach sleepers
- Buckwheat hulls remain cool to the touch for temperature regulation
This natural technology offers an adjustable, sustainable, and allergen-free buckwheat filling in a 100% Muslin cotton cover. The choice provides firm, customizable support and cool, breathable comfort. , For use with standard pillowcases, it is suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers.
|What We Like:
|What We Don’t Like:
|Natural and organic
Lightweight for travelling
Accommodates all sleep positions
Firm and tailored
|Hand wash only
It may be too small for some
It feels hard at first
TalatexHome Premium Latex Pillow for Neck Pain
- 🍀[Pure Natural Dunlop Latex] Latex Pillows made from the highest quality pure natural latex，Pure 100% Thailand Natural Latex.
- 🍀[Adjustable & Ergonomic]- Standard Size in inch 23.6"×15.7"×4.7"×3.9". Size in cm 60×40×12×10. (Includes removable 2cm/0.78" thick pillow cushion). Ideal for side and back sleepers. It helps to relieve neck pain, frozen shoulder, reduce snoring and insomnia.
- 🍀[Medium Firm&Support]- The touch is medium firm and it supports your neck and head very well. The Natural latex combining with the force of bounce back property gives you an amazing feeling.
This orthopedic, ergonomically designed pillow is perfect for pressure and pain relief. It’s made from 100% natural Thai latex, offering firm and medium support for side and back sleepers. Beyond comfortable bounce-back durability, the ventilated cushion is cool and breathable. Talatex also provides a 30-night risk-free trial.
|What We Like:
|What We Don’t Like:
|Cool and breathable
Climate pledge friendly
OKEA TEX Standard 100 certified
It may be too soft for some
Hand wash only
Aroma, if not aired out first
EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow
- LUXURIOUS SLEEPING PILLOW - Provides therapeutic relief for all sleepers and neck pain, you will wake up feeling fully recharged and ready to take the day. Its premium fabric to keep you cool and comfortable throughout the night.
- ERGONOMIC - Proven contour design perfectly supports and aligns your head, neck, shoulder and back. You will fall asleep faster and deeper. It is possible for you to experience some discomfort during the first two weeks while your body is trying to adjust to the correct position. Try it for a new level of comfort whether you are back sleeper, stomach sleeper or side sleeper.
- QUALITY MATERIAL - Breathable memory form provides better air circulation to keep you cool and dry. Our hypoallergenic rayon/polyester proprietary blend pillow case feels silky soft.
APABO’s contour pillow with memory foam is for all sleeping positions in standard, queen, and near king size. This breathable and hypoallergenic option provides control and alignment, keeps you cool, and looks and feels luxurious with its silky soft cover. It comes with a free pillowcase and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
|What We Like:
|What We Don’t Like:
|20% more foam
Adjustable filling volume
Machine washable cover
Accommodates all sleeping positions and sizes
|It may flatten over time
It takes a while to conform to contours
ZAMAT Memory Foam Butterfly Pillow for Neck Pain
- 【Have trouble with neck pain sleeping?】 In fact, 25-30% of people suffer from neck pain. Pillow might not be the original source for your neck pain, but undoubtedly it plays an important role in making it better or worse. Every night we spend many hours with a pillow, why not choose the right one for a healthy neck? ZAMAT cervical pillow, a great pillow for pain relief sleeping with an ergonomic shape that offers excellent support for your head and neck, fits side, back, and stomach sleepers!
- 【Are you looking for a personalized pillow?】 Special butterfly shape, neck contour, central cavity, adjustable height, ZAMAT bed pillow has many thoughtful designs. Butterfly shape gives your arms special armrests. Contour design holds your neck at the right height and offers excellent support during sleep. The central cavity properly supports the head, facilitates alignment of the head with the body and spine. The removable piece in the bottom lets you freely adjust the height of the pillow.
- 【Why not choose something all-natural and flavorless?】If you're sensitive to the smell of a memory foam pillow's off-gassing and want a natural and healthy pillow, this sutera pillow is a good choice. Our orthopedic pillow is made with high-quality odorless memory foam that is CertiPUR-US certified. It can provide firm support with amazing comfort and softness when sleeping. Moreover, it can slow rebound its shape within a few minutes and keep its shape and firmness for long-term use.
ZAMAT’s adjustable orthopedic contour pillow has a cooling cover and odorless CertiPUR-US certified memory foam suitable for all sleeping positions. Its unique butterfly shape provides superior head, neck, and shoulder support. It also offers a contour design, a central cavity, and adjustable height for personalization.
|What We Like:
|What We Don’t Like:
|Accommodates all sleeping positions
Bamboo cover is machine washable,
100-night trial with 100% satisfaction solution
|Contours may not fit all shapes and sizes
Heavy compared to down-filled options
Before committing to your choice, consult with your medical professional. Their advice will ensure your purchase is appropriately therapeutic.
Help Relieve and Prevent Neck Pain With the Best Cervical Pillow
Beyond helping bolster your neck when recovering from injury, illness, or surgery, ergonomically targeted pillows can help prevent discomfort. Make a choice that enables you to practice good alignment and posture.
Disclaimer: Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.
This content is provided solely for educational reasons and should not be seen as medical guidance. It’s important to consult with a healthcare expert prior to making any changes to your health regimen, including dietary adjustments or the use of supplements.
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