If you have woken up with a throbbing ache and soreness in your neck, you know how uncomfortable and painful a stiff neck can get. A stiff neck, or neck pain, occurs when the muscles, ligaments, and bones in the neck are strained or injured, causing inflammation and soreness. This condition can be treated at home through simple home remedies or over-the-counter medicines for pain relief, and also by making a few lifestyle changes if necessary. Before we move on to whether pillows play a role in preventing neck pain, let us understand the symptoms and causes of a neck pain.
Symptoms of Neck Pain:
- Neck stiffness
- Shooting pains in the neck
- Pain during movement
- A feeling of numbness
- Reduced mobility
While the above-mentioned symptoms indicate neck pain of some sort, neck pain itself can be an indicator or an underlying symptom of another health condition or injury. If the neck pain does not go away within a week, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor immediately.
Causes of Neck Pain:
Some of the most common causes of neck pain include:
Poor posture: With most of our jobs demand us to sit in front of our systems with our backs arched, looking down at our gadgets, and slouching strains the neck muscles, thus resulting in pain.
Injury: The neck area is often prone to injuries, be it a fall, a road accident or a sports injury that may lead to a ligament sprain in the neck. Engaging in strenuous exercises or sudden, uncontrolled neck movement may also cause neck pain. Injury caused by a sudden jerking of the head, also known as whiplash, can also contribute to neck pain.
Sleeping wrong: By now, we all know that the right sleeping position plays an important role in preventing neck pain. Just the way bad posture while sitting can cause neck stiffness, the wrong position while sleeping can put a strain on your neck muscles too.
While working on your sleeping position may help prevent neck pain, using the right pillow and mattress will help you come a long way in ensuring that you don’t get frequent neck pains.
How do pillows help prevent neck pain?
If you find yourself often waking up with neck pain, your pillow and mattress are also to blame, along with various other causes. A pillow is used to help hold the neck and the head at the right height while sleeping, in order to prevent unnecessary stress on the neck muscles. However, if a pillow is too high or low for you in particular and you still continue to use it, neck pain is inevitable. A pillow that is too high or low may cause pressure to build up in order to compensate for the lack of support. This is why, choosing the right pillow can be the key to a restful, good night’s sleep and waking up neck pain-free.
The best pillows for neck pain:
Your body, height and sleeping positions play an important role in determining which pillow works best for you. For those who wake up with frequent neck pain, sleeping on the back or the side is advised. Sleeping on the stomach is not ideal for those prone to neck pain.
Sleeping on the back: If you usually sleep on your back, using a fairly low pillow is helpful. Extra support can be given by adding a small rolled towel or a roll-shaped pillow beneath the neck. A pillow with a cervical spine curve is ideal, as it is designed in such a way that there is a roll or a bump under the neck, and a flatter spot for your head. Even changing the position of the pillow may help you relax further, such as tucking the pillow under your shoulder so that your head is positioned further up on the pillow for comfort. It is also advisable for those sleeping on the back to keep a pillow under the knees to prevent lower back strains as well.
Sleeping on the side: If you usually sleep on the side, a higher, elevated pillow is recommended in this case, so that your neck and head are in line with the spine. A rolled towel or round pillow can be placed under the neck, while the head is rested on a flatter area. If you are sleeping to the side, keeping a pillow between the knees also offers additional support to the spine.
Sleeping on the stomach: As mentioned earlier, sleeping on the stomach is not recommended as you sleep with your back arched and neck turned, which may strain the neck muscles, thus worsening neck pain. However, if you are used to sleeping on your stomach, changing your sleeping position can be challenging. When sleeping on your stomach, it is advisable to forgo the pillow completely or use a flat pillow to support the head. A pillow should also be placed under the hips and stomach to maintain the natural curve of the spine and avoid further strain.
However, apart from using pillows of the right height, it is also important to choose the right material or type of pillow. Researching various types of pillows can help you make an informed choice about which pillow would best suit you. You can choose from materials such as memory foam, down pillows or alternatives, latex, and many more.
It is also necessary to replace your pillow every 1 or 2 years as they tend to lose shape and substance, and may not be able to support your neck.
While using the right kind of pillow and sleeping right will definitely come a long way in preventing neck pain and ensuring quality sleep, you may require a solution to treat neck pain or stiffness caused by various other factors. This is where a topical neck pain relief gel or neck pain spray like Omnigel comes in handy. Omnigel is one of the most popular pain relief treatments that provide instant relief. It comes with zero side effects. It targets the specific area of pain for temporary relief. It is available in the gel and spray format with compact packaging, making it easier to carry when you are traveling too!