Choosing A Pillow For Spine Support

The right pillow can alleviate or prevent back and neck pain. We have tips to help you select the pillow that is just right for you.


choosing a pillow

There’s nothing like the perfect pillow to ensure a sound night’s sleep. Some of us are so attached to our pillows that we travel with them. In addition to being comfortable, the right pillow can also provide important support to the neck and spine by propping up the head, neck, and shoulders to keep your body in alignment and relieve pressure. For some, choosing a pillow from all the options available can be a challenge.

What to look for when choosing a pillow

For optimum support, there are some characteristics that you should look for when choosing a pillow.

  • A design that keeps the spine in natural alignment. Our neck curves slightly forward to sustain the weight of our head. Our pillow should maintain this curve when we are in a resting position. If the pillow is too high, our neck may be bent abnormally forward when we sleep on our back, or too far to one side if we sleep on our side, causing muscle strain or obstructed breathing. The preferred pillow maintains a height of four to six inches.
  • A feeling of comfort. Personal preference plays a large part in the definition of a good pillow. When we are comfortable, it is easier to relax into sleep and wake well rested.
  • An adjustable shape that conforms to the body. Most of us adjust our position as we sleep, so it’s important to have a pillow composition that conforms to our unique shape, adjusting as we change position. For people who sleep on their back, the pillow should support the natural curvature of the cervical spine—some people find it helpful to sleep with a pillow under their knees as well. Those who sleep on their side need a slightly higher pillow that supports the spine in a straight and natural horizontal line, and helps to keep weight evenly distributed without pressure.

When to replace your pillow

Remember that even the best of pillows will eventually lose its firmness. When it no longer supports your neck and spine, it should be replaced. A good pillow results in a good night’s sleep, and gives your spine gentle support to avoid strain or injury.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise

Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.

Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

More resources for you

Additional resources

Share this on
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Also see...

  • exercise

    A Healthier Spine Through Exercise

    Exercise is one of the best preventative measures we can take to maintain good health. Generally, exercise increases physical strength and improves longevity. Specific exercises can also address and improve many types of spine pain.

  • Airport Tips For Travelers With Arthritis

    Whether travelers are flying to escape cold weather or to be home for the holidays, negotiating airports can be a special challenge for people with arthritis. We’ve got tips to help get you through the airport with ease.

  • right mattress

    Select A Mattress To Support Spine Health

    Spine issues can make it challenging to sleep soundly. We tell you how to select a mattress that will provide support for your spine, and a good night’s rest for you.