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We’ve talked previously in depth about why going out and buying a brand new pillow when you have neck pain might not be the wisest decision, read why here. In short, buying a new pillow when you have neck pain is not something we would advise for a couple of reasons: namely, positions you sleep in when you have neck pain may not be the best decision for your neck in the long term, and can actually cause your neck pain to be exacerbated in the long term.

Furthermore, if a pillow does actually help to relieve your pain, once you’re out of pain you may no longer find that pillow comfortable as you may go back to sleeping how you used to. In our previous article we advised it’s much better to invest in treatment than it is to invest in a new pillow, since finding out the true underlying cause of your neck pain should be paramount in overcoming it. If you don’t treat the underlying cause, chances are bouts of neck pain will keep returning until they become a permanent occurrence.

Treatment For Neck Pain

Find a practitioner in your local area who offers an examination detailed enough, potentially with scans if you need them, to identify what’s causing your back pain and what you’re doing on a daily basis that’s preventing it from getting better – Ie. are you slouching at your desk for 8 or more hours during the day, do you have forward head carriage that puts extra pressure on the discs in your neck? These are just a couple of examples that may apply to you, and will need addressing if you want to get rid of your neck pain.

But, if you’re still set on buying a new pillow, why not try making one first? All pillows that provide support for your neck and head all have very similar characteristics, so it’s easy to try and replicate these at home. Before we get into how you can make a pillow yourself at home, it’s important to understand why finding the right pillow is important – so you can easily take these principles and incorporate them into how you use your body on a daily basis. Knowing how to correctly use your body can help go a long way to ensure the condition of your neck does not deteriorate with time, so it stays healthy, mobile and free from pain.

 

Correct Neck Posture

The neck should have a smooth curve if you look at it from the side, it should be in a loose C-shape, if you were to look at your neck from the right side it should resemble a backwards C. Sadly, the curve in the neck is one of the most common ones that is lost often as a result of ‘tech neck’. In cases where someone spends a lot of time looking down at their phone, perhaps on their journey to work everyday or in the evenings, they might spend their evenings watching Netflix with their head propped up on a pillow, or slouch during the day at work by leaning their head forward while they’re working on their computer or looking down at a laptop, all of these behaviours can cause an alteration of the natural alignment of your neck.

This alteration can be in the form of developing a completely straight neck, or having the opposite curve than is ideal. Both of these alterations can be detrimental over time, since the natural curves in our spine are there to effectively absorb the pressures placed on it everyday from gravity and even just moving. Without that ideal curve, the discs can become compressed and eventually bulge – which can be very painful and lead to other symptoms appearing in other areas of the body, such as tingling, pins and needles or burning sensations in the arms, hands or fingers.

Correct Sleeping Posture

When you’re sleeping, supporting a natural C-shape in your spine is important, and there are certain pillows on the market that do this well, for example a Tempur pillow. But, you don’t necessarily need to invest in one, and in many cases if you do have neck pain you may already have a deviation in your natural spine alignment so you may not find this type of pillow comfortable at all initially because it will support a ‘good’ curve. Over time this should become more comfortable if you’re making positive changes in your waking life to improve your posture.

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How To Make A Pillow For Your Neck Pain

In our video at the top of the page, we demonstrate a particular pillow we have in the clinic that is used while patients are laying on our spinal decompression, replicating a pillow like this is probably one of the easiest changes you could make at home to see if a pillow like this would work for you. Take a normal, square shaped pillow that you have spare, take the bottom end and roll this bit – which will exaggerate the bottom end relative to the top end. You should now have a pillow with a big support to fit in the nape of your neck, and your head should be able to drop down the other side with a little support there. With this type of DIY pillow, you can completely customise the height of the bottom part of your pillow to fit the height of your shoulder, and to whatever is most comfortable for you. The benefit of using a pillow such as this, is that while it’ll keep your neck in a healthy position this allows for the discs in your neck to have a long break while you’re sleeping from being compressed. The discs can rehydrate and there’s no excessive stress on one particular structure, ligament or muscle while you’re sleeping – which will help your spine significantly during the daytime.

If you’ve been struggling with neck pain and it has been affecting your sleep, it is always best to seek the help of a professional who can evaluate your neck for any damage. If neck pain has been ongoing for a number of weeks, months or years, or perhaps it’s been intermittent and only comes along every once in awhile you may have caused a change in your spine that needs more in-depth attention or investigation. Often there are things that you’re doing on a regular basis that is hindering your body’s ability to heal itself – this could be daily activities, the way that you walk, run, lift, your job, the way that you sit at a desk etc. If you’re based in London, call The Mayfair Clinic today to see how we can help you. Our initial consultation process includes an examination, a treatment on your first visit, X-rays if clinically relevant along with an independent radiology report along with our own reports. To book in call us on 0203 947 3222 or email us at info@themayfairclinic.com.