Neck pain is something that you might neglect at first, but as it worsens you realize you should have paid attention to it. A common cause of this problem is the irritation of the nerve pathways that result in pain in the head, shoulders, arms and hands.
Even irritation along the spinal cord can cause pain in other areas below your neck. Thus, some experts recommend using a neck pillow.
What is a neck pillow and why you should know
You might have seen a neck pillow before even if you’re not familiar with the term “neck pillow”. So what is a neck pillow? Well, it’s also known as a microbead pillow and is filled with small polystyrene beads.
It is soft and squishy, having the same feel as a bean bag. Since the two can be made of similar materials, that explains for the resemblance.
A neck pillow is intended for general head support, and can be therapeutic for those who suffer from a painful neck and other medical conditions.
The polystyrene beads are mini versions of the beads used to fill bean bags. They play a big role in giving the feeling of a neck pillow.
Their sizes vary from 0.3 to 0.8 mm (0.001 to 0.003 inches) in diameter. If you also heard of snow beads, they are exactly the same as microbeads.
Neck pillows are normally made of soft and stretchy fabric like nylon lycra or spandex. The reason for the use of such fabric is because the microbeads need to be able to shift as much as possible in order to adjust to the shape of your body or position.
With this ability to mold effortlessly to your body, neck pillows are considered very good body support, especially in the neck area.
Also, unlike the typical pillow that can cause pain due to the irritation of pressure points, neck pillows do the opposite, which is to alleviate pain. Doctors often recommend their patients suffering from neck and back pain to use this pillow since it really does give relief.
However, do not just choose any pillow. You should also consider some factors like firmness and proper thickness.
Some people might need a softer neck pillow that is appropriate for alleviating temporary neck pain caused by an accident or standing up for a long time. Others might require firmer pillows for chronic neck pain.
There are also neck pillows that are filled with either buckwheat hulls or memory foam, so you should choose which is more comfortable for you. When it comes to the thickness, use your sleeping position as a guide:
- For lying on your side, your head and neck should be horizontally level with your mid and lower back.
- For lying on your back, your head and neck should be level with your upper back and spine. If the neck pillow is too thin or thick so your head and neck aren’t level with your body that is not a good sign.
Likewise, a good neck pillow should have a primary outward curve that rests on your neck. It should act like a headrest.
The neck pillow should be U-shaped as well and filled with foam or other similar stuffing. This provides additional support both for your head and neck.
The said shape should also enable the neck pillow to fit under your ears as well as above your shoulders to give support to your head, allowing for the proper curving of your neck.
Meanwhile, there are times when a neck pillow gets hot if you are in a humid place or it is just a very hot day. However, there’s no need to worry because gel foam cooling pillows are now available that use a cooling technology found in soft memory foam that controls and releases heat build-up.
The chiropractic neck pillow is a nice option that gives your neck foam support and keeps your head cool using the fiber center. If you like firm pillows, the buckwheat pillow is a nice option as well since it keeps your head cooler when you are in a warm place.
The cervical pillow and neck align pillow are fiber-based pillows too that have a basic uniform surface for those who sleep on their back and neck.
Now you know what a neck pillow is and understand the different types available. In general, you just have to choose the pillow that feels the most comfortable and suitable to your needs.
As well as your sleeping position and type of neck pain problem, your personal taste also plays a big role in your decision-making process.