Memory Foam Pillow for neck pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Mattress for Back Pain


Memory Foam Neck Pillows
Orthopaedic Pillow

The Memory foam neck pillow is becoming very common. I must admit, I have mixed opinions about them being marketed as a pain relief product.

The concept behind the memory foam pillow is that they are made from a special material that responds to both the shape and heat of your body, and foam will mould around the shape of your head and neck while you sleep and provide good neck support.

Some of my patients with neck or upper back pain who have bought memory foam pillows find them to be comfortable, but report minimal change to their neck pain when they sleep. In these cases I often ask them to bring in their pillow to have a look at how they sleep on it. In many of these cases, we discover that the pillow fits badly, or is the wrong type for their neck shape and physique - after already spending significant money on pillow to help with neck pain, they have to go and spend it all over again.

So what should you look for when buying a pillow to help with Neck Pain?

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Pillows for Neck Pain

Memory foam or Orthopaedic

Generally, my preference is to use an orthopaedic pillow correctly sized to support your neck curves well (as opposed to a off the shelf memory foam pillow), as I have found that they deliver better results for my neck and upper back pain clients.

The two main factors to consider in getting results with your orthopaedic pillow are:

  1. The quality of the pillow: This plays a large part in the overall effectiveness of your orthopaedic pillow. If you are looking at pillows to help with neck pain, there are many types and different designs out there. Some are better than others, so seek professional advice on what types are best for your posture type or neck condition prior to your purchase.

  2. The size of the pillow: Is very important. Whether you have a standard pillow, orthopaedic pillow or memory foam pillow, it is so important that you have it correctly sized to the curves of your neck. Again, seek professional advice for this to ensure that it fits you correctly.

Remember, a memory foam pillow can assist in the recovery of some neck injuries - however you will need the assistance of a chartered physiotherapist to ensure you are choosing the correct pillow for your neck posture. Using the wrong type or a badly sized pillow can result in you sleeping in positions that will increase the severity of your neck pain.

To summarise, there may be a time and a place for choosing the memory foam pillow against the classic Swedish orthopaedic pillow. However, if you are suffering from neck or back pain - then my advice is to seek a physiotherapist’’s advice prior to your purchase. Remember you spend a lot of your life in bed so you should aim to get the quality of your sleep right. Using correct pillows and mattresses can help this greatly.


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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