The best orthopaedic pillows to combat neck pain

Consider one of these orthopaedic pillows for a more peaceful slumber.

Woman lying on orthopedic pillow

by Sophie Athawes |

Do you suffer from neck or back pain when you wake up? Do you often have a headache first thing in the morning?We've listed the best orthopaedic pillows to buy for different sleeping positions, niggles, and targeted support. Find out how one of these pillows can work for you and give you the undisturbed sleep you deserve!

If you've been experiencing persistent restlessness at night or struggling to get comfortable in bed due to aches and pains, it might be time to change up your bedding or mattress. But - particularly your pillow.

What is an orthopaedic pillow?

Orthopaedic pillows are a popular choice that can be used to naturally correct your posture and spinal alignment while you sleep. It reduces pressure on your spine and neck, meaning your back can get the rest it needs.

Their unique design features ensure you sleep comfortably. As we all know, a proper night’s sleep gives your body the much-needed time to rest and repair as well as keep your immune system strong.

Do orthopaedic pillows work?

According to Dr Rishi Loatey, Certified Chiropractic Extremity Practitioner and member of the Royal College of Chiropractors and Fellowship of the British Chiropractic Association, "We spend a lot of time in bed. If you are sleeping with an unnatural spinal position, it can cause strain on spinal joints."

He continues, "Eventually, it can impact how well your spine is aligned. In fact, it’s not uncommon for patients visiting our chiropractic clinic in Ealing to have poorly aligned spines caused by years of poor sleeping habits."

"Poor sleep habits can cause muscle strains - the muscles in the back are impacted greatly by the quality of your sleep. That’s because they are stressed when your spine is in an abnormal position."

So, using a pillow that can help keep your spine in a neutral position will do wonders for your neck and back health. It could also help prevent your muscles from straining, and help those with existing sleep disorders to find a comfortable sleeping position more easily.

Best orthopaedic pillows

There's a whole range of orthopaedic pillows to suit every style of sleep and comfort with pillows for neck pain and back pain and cooling pillows, from memory foam to contoured orthopaedic pillows. Thankfully, they don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Good-quality ones will come with a guarantee so you can feel confident in your purchase.

To help you wade through the many choices available, we’ve rounded up the best orthopaedic pillows on the market – so snug you’ll wonder why you didn’t buy one sooner.

This award-winning high-quality memory foam pillow is revolutionary in its design and is perfect for side, back and stomach sleepers. Comfortable and supportive, its patented technology cradles your head, forcing your neck to align comfortably with your spine for the best possible night's sleep. You can trial it for 100 nights and there's a five-year warranty too.

Review: "I wasn't convinced that this pillow would help with my neck problems, but decided to give it a go, for the price. I was very happy to find out I was wrong! It has helped enormously and would recommend it to anyone experiencing neck problems – it has definitely improved my sleep.”

Who says memory foam has to be soft? This medium/firm orthopaedic pillow is a best seller for those who sleep on their back or side. Its contoured design helps to keep your neck and spine aligned for a dreamy, undisturbed night's sleep. Available with a five-year guarantee.

Review: "My Osteopath recommended that I purchase this pillow to support my neck/back during the night. At first I did not like it but after a couple of nights I really understood why she recommended it. I no longer have the discomfort during the night and wake up feeling so much better."

This pillow is currently out of stock, but you can request to be emailed as soon as it becomes available again via the John Lewis website.

Cool in summer and warm in winter, these specialist pillows allow heat and moisture to escape for a more comfortable sleep. Perfect for those with neck pain and relieving pressure, you'll certainly sleep like royalty. The pillowcase is also removable and washable.

Review: "I suffer from arthritis in a number of joints in my body. Finding a comfortable position to sleep in is difficult and for years I have struggled to find pillows that offer me adequate support. I found the pillow alone to be a little low once my head had settled into it, but this issue was quickly resolved by placing a shallower, standard non-memory foam pillow underneath it. It's fantastic!"

Don't be put off by spring pillows, these eco-friendly memory foam pillows have been created by sleep experts to send you into a deep slumber. The bounce-back technology means you can sleep in almost any position and are recommended for stomach or pregnant sleepers. Also ideal for anyone with neck pain, back pain, spondylitis, arthritis, rheumatism and asthma.

Review: "I'm a tall guy with broad shoulders sleeping on the side. I need firm support and two of these guys do a dream job for me. Light and airy. Helps my neck and shoulder pain a lot. Mine had a bit of plastic smell (as all memory foam products) but it was gone in a few hours. Definitely would buy it again. Good value for the money."

SIMBA may carry a hefty price tag, but it may be worth it to sleep like a baby. The Simba Hybrid® Pillow is a game-changing pillow with temperature regulation and adjustable height and firmness. This pillow comes highly recommended by chiropractors and, while it's an investment, could save you neck and back pain in the long run.

Review: "The feel of the Simba pillow is amazing. It is so snug and is the most comfortable pillow ever. Would highly recommend it and would never go back to anything else after using these pillows."

Certified CertiPUR-US and OEKO-TEX for durability and performance, these pillows will provide your neck, shoulders, and back with efficient support whilst still being breathable for a cool and comfy night's sleep. This pillow is recommended for all sleep positions, thanks to the responsiveness of the contouring gel memory foam. Many reviewers have praised this pillow for putting an end to neck stiffness, sore shoulders, and serving some serious comfort.

Review: "I used to wake up multiple times a night and have to change sides because the pain in my ears where I would be lying was horrendous. Using this pillow I have not had that problem since. I also haven't to the best of my knowledge woken up since with any neck/shoulder issues either. The height is just right enough to allow your neck to sit at a neutral angle.

"It takes some getting used to though, for example, you cannot push/punch a crater in it to bury your head/face in it with an arm underneath as the padding will just bounce back and cover your face. But after a while, you just learn that you can't sleep like that again with this pillow."

Contour pillows may not always seem the most comfortable or soft, but this supportive neck pillow provides the best pressure distribution for a perfect night's sleep. The ergonomic shape and healthy curves of the contour memory foam pillow help to support your head, neck and shoulders whether you sleep on your back, side or stomach.

Review: "This pillow is perfect for me and I have spent literally years trying to find one that is not too soft but hard enough to support my neck. It's soft to the touch and has just the right amount of give in it to support my neck and shoulders. It's a little smaller than standard pillows but actually, it works perfectly for it. I didn't need to bunch up or mould the pillow to make it comfortable. Once my head hit the pillow, I was comfortable, none of the usual faffing around to get in the right position.

"I had a couple of discs removed from my neck a few years ago so a good supporting pillow is an absolute must for me. So, I would highly recommend this pillow, which I originally bought for my partner to stop him from snoring. I was so taken with it I bought one for myself. One of my friends has now asked for the link as she was so taken with it. It's a good value product in my opinion and I would highly recommend it a good night's sleep is well worth the investment."

Another slightly pricier option, but guaranteed to provide the support you need. Tempur is well known for its sleep range designed to help you sleep better, longer and deeper. Made from visco-elastic, this pillow moulds perfectly to your neck and head, providing excellent support and pressure relief to the neck and shoulder muscles. Recommended for those suffering from pain or those who prefer to sleep with a support pillow, it's ideal for side or back sleepers. It also comes with a three-year guarantee included.

Review: "I have been suffering from neck pain for two years and this pillow has drastically reduced this. It is firm and provides more than enough neck support, it does mould to your neck but all seems well and adjusts as you move."

For sciatica relief, back pain, hip pain and joint pain, you may find that using an orthopaedic leg pillow is the answer. This ergonomically designed knee pillow fits comfortably between your knees and provides maximum support and comfort at night that helps relieve sciatica pain and pressure on the lower back. It's also very comfortable for use during pregnancy.

Made with 100 per cent premium quality durable cut memory foam to provide long-lasting comfort for hours. The contoured design keeps your legs, hip and spine in ideal alignment while sleeping and improves circulation. A breathable zippered cover ensures the pillow does not get warm and is machine washable for easy cleaning.

Review: "I suffer from bad sciatica. I asked my Dr about a pillow and he said not to get it because it may or may not help and he didn't want me to waste my money. Well after a couple of weeks I got desperate. I read all these reviews and ordered the cushion with the best ratings (within my budget). I was disappointed when I first tried it as my knees were barely apart, I didn't see what difference it would make. That night I tried it again just to give it a fair shot. I slept through the entire night for the first time in 6 weeks!"

"A week later and I'm still sleeping through the night. My hips are no longer sore in the morning and it's not excruciating pain when I sit up in the morning. Don't get me wrong I am still in pain, especially when bending or stooping but the all-day 'just for no reason pain' has gotten a lot better. I have no idea how but this thing works. I won't even lay on the couch without it now."

If you struggle with back pain after long car journeys, an orthopaedic travel pillow may help. This back cushion is specifically designed for use in the car. It helps to promote blood circulation, provide lower back support for lower pain relief and reduces slouching while driving. The lumbar cushion set also comes with a handy travel bag, so you can take it abroad when hiring a car - and could even use it on the plane.

Review: "I am quite short and even with the seat pulled forward I find it difficult to get in a comfortable position for driving. On long journeys, I can get quite a sore back and neck from constantly having to hold myself forward. This neck and back support is the perfect solution. The memory foam moulds to the perfect shape to provide support where it is needed whilst the headrest saves me from having to hold my head up all the time."

How do I choose an orthopaedic pillow?

When choosing the right orthopaedic pillow, first consider the specific area that requires support or feels strained during the night. Buying a pillow that targets support to the painful area will help alleviate any aches over time.

If you have allergies or sensitive skin, consider an orthopaedic pillow that has been made from hypoallergenic material and opt for a breathable, lightweight pillow if you suffer from night sweats or find yourself to be a hot sleeper.

You'll want comfort to be a priority too for a relaxing sleep so choosing an orthopaedic pillow with this is key and we've made sure all our options fit the bill.

Snooze on a soft cover like the ComfiLife Orthopaedic Knee Pillow, medium to high-density memory foam like the Deep Sleep Supportive Washable Hypoallergenic Pillow or pocket springs like the Sealy Posturepedic Pocket Spring Pillow for optimal night-time comfort.

Choose the right one for you and you'll have a great night's sleep in no time!

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