Neck pain is a pervasive problem affecting the American population. Although we commonly consider neck pain to affect office workers and those who spend their days in front of computer screen, neck pain can affect just about anyone.
One of the most common causes of neck pain is persistent mispositioning through poor posture during daily activities or during sleep. Unfortunately, chronic poor positioning can result in pinched nerves, aching muscles, and overall pain and discomfort that may be difficult and costly to treat through traditional treatment modalities.
One suspect for positional neck pain is your pillow. Using too many pillows or a pillow that is not optimal for your neck, head, and sleep needs can mean persistent neck pain, where an appropriate pillow choice can relieve this pain and result in greater comfort and improved sleep quality and duration.
If your pillow is the cause of your neck pain, the first step you should take is to replace it. The second step you should take is to seek chiropractic treatment for neck pain from a professional chiropractor, who can assess your pain and provide manual manipulations of the spine to correct for any mispositioning caused by sleeping in a bad position with an incorrect pillow.
How Pillows Can Cause Neck Pain
In theory, sleeping with a pillow is a good thing for your body and spinal alignment. The pillow provides support to your head and keeps the cervical spine in alignment.
Without a pillow, the weight of your head would pull your neck down toward the pillow, which in addition to being uncomfortable, could result in permanent nerve damage.
Sleeping with a pillow that is too tall or not tall enough is one of the leading causes of positional neck pain. A pillow that is too flat does not do enough to keep the cervical spine in alignment, while a pillow that is too tall moves the cervical spine too far away from the bed, preventing the spine from staying in a natural alignment.
Similarly, sleeping with too many pillows can cause damage. This may mean having a nerve that is pinched or vertebrae that become misaligned for optimal comfort.
When you choose a pillow, you must also consider the position you usually assume while you are sleeping.
Stomach sleepers do not require a pillow that is very tall, though stomach sleeping is generally not recommended for optimal spinal alignment.
People who sleep on their back require a moderate pillow height and may need to have a pillow that is constructed from memory foam or another adaptable and flexible material.
People who sleep on their side require the highest height of all regarding their pillow needs, though many still sleep on pillows that are too tall for their physical dimensions.
Relieving Neck Pain Caused by Malpositioning
The first step in relieving neck pain caused by incorrect pillow use is making sure your pillow is appropriate for your neck and using a new pillow if needed.
The second step is to correct the damage you have done by sleeping with an improper pillow. This is most effectively achieved through seeking chiropractic treatment for neck pain from an experienced, qualified chiropractor.