How to Find the Best Orthopedic Pillows

Research has shown that the right orthopedic pillow can help improve your sleep. While standard pillows provide support to the upper back, head, and neck to get a comfy position, the best orthopedic pillows provide next-level support to the aforementioned body parts.

These pillows enhance comfort as well as help with pain management. They are not only ergonomic but also have added benefits like improved spinal alignment and pressure relief. That’s why it’s vitally important to find the right orthopedic pillow that meets your specific needs.

For example, unlike standard pillows, orthopedic pillows feature a contoured shape that moulds to your upper body for optimal comfort. Other factors to consider include size, firmness, construction material, and cover material that improves the pillow’s functional and aesthetic aspects.

Since there’s such a wide range of orthopedic pillows out there, picking out the best one can be quite a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together this orthopedic pillow buying guide along with our top picks that can help address different pain issues, suit various sleeping styles, and fit different budgets.

What’s an Orthopedic Pillow?

An orthopedic pillow is a good option for naturally correcting your spinal alignment and posture while sleeping. It eases pressure on your neck and spine, giving your back some much-needed rest.

The unique design aspects of orthopedic pillows ensure a comfortable sleep. And, of course, a good night’s sleep gives the body the time it needs to rest and recuperate and also keeps the immune system strong.

Why Do I Need an Orthopedic Pillow?

We spend about a third of our lives sleeping. Sleeping with an abnormal spinal position can strain your spinal joints. Eventually, this can adversely affect your spinal alignment. Basically, poor sleeping habits can cause back muscle strain, eventually leading to a poorly aligned spine.

So, using an orthopedic pillow can help keep the spine in the right position, helping improve your back and neck health. It can also help prevent muscle strain and help individuals with existing sleep problems find a more comfortable sleeping position with ease.

Types of Orthopedic Pillows

There is a wide variety of orthopedic pillows on the market that can cater to different sleeping positions and different medical conditions.

Cervical pillow: This pillow features a curve that helps it fit the shoulders, head, and neck properly. Manufacturers say that cervical pillows, also known as contour pillows, are perfect for back or side sleepers. These pillows help to relieve shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches.

Neck pillow: Neck pillows have a C-shape design. They provide contouring for your neck. This kind of pillow will benefit travellers since it helps keep the neck upright when they have to sleep while sitting.

Knee pillow: This hourglass-shaped pillow is placed under the knee or between the legs to support your limbs and keep your spine straight. A knee pillow not only aligns the spine to provide support to your lower back but also helps prevent friction between your legs. It often helps enhance blood circulation in your legs.

Body pillow: A body pillow, as the name implies, is a large pillow that provides support to the back, shoulders, head, lower back, legs, and knees. It provides extra comfort to the body and is perfect for sleeping on the side.

Lumbar pillow: An orthopedic lumbar pillow helps keep your lower back extra comfortable. Placing a half-moon-shaped pillow at your lower back can help you sit properly and ease lumbar pain and soreness. You can also support your neck with this pillow or place it under your knees to raise your legs.

Water pillow: For optimal flexibility, a water pillow is your best option. Just fill the pillow up with water and change its height if necessary. The water curves to your body’s shape and provides you with some much-needed support.

Wedge pillow: This orthopedic pillow is triangular in shape. This creates a slant and lets your body lie diagonally. You can use it for different areas of your body, but many folks use it to decrease GERD and acid reflux symptoms when they sleep.

What to Consider When Shopping for an Orthopedic Pillow

Given the vast range of orthopedic pillows available on the market, it can be quite tricky to choose the right one. Even if you don’t suffer from any sleep disorder or medical condition, having an orthopedic pillow to hand can be useful for when you have stiff shoulders or a sore back or want to lift your legs.

But no matter what you use it for, you should carefully consider your options when buying an orthopedic pillow, keeping the following factors in mind.

Sleep Position

The various sleep positions determine the design of orthopedic pillows. It’s recommended to pick a pillow designed for your usual sleep position. The most common sleep position is by the side, then the back and belly. A body pillow often suits side sleepers, while back sleepers could benefit from a wedge pillow.

Pillow Size

The right-sized orthopedic pillow for you will depend on your bed and your preference. For a queen-sized bed, you just need a mid-sized pillow. If you have a king-sized bed, there are larger orthopedic pillows on the market that’ll suit your bed.

Buying a pillow that’s too small or too big can adversely affect your sleep. You might not receive the necessary support, or the pillow may be too big for your bed.

Pillow Shape

The way you sleep will also determine the shape of the pillow you choose. Pillow shapes range from contoured ones to V-shaped ones. V-shaped pillows are ideal for preventing rolling while sleeping. They’re a comfortable fit around the neck that keeps your head straight. A V-shaped pillow doesn’t reach your shoulders and back but helps your spinal cord keep your head and neck upright.

Pillow Firmness

Orthopedic pillows have to be somewhat firm to support your head and neck. This is another major difference between an orthopedic pillow and a regular one. The pillow’s firmness will determine the level of support it gives your body.

If you have neck or back problems, it’s advisable to go for a stiffer pillow as it can support your weight much better while sleeping. With added support to your upper body, your lower back will also get better support. So, the right orthopedic pillow for those with lower back pain is one that’s firm enough.

Type of Support

If you’re getting an orthopedic pillow due to your medical condition or sleep disorder, you have to consider which body part you want the pillow to support. For example, a lumbar pillow helps support the legs and lower back, while a neck pillow helps support the shoulders, neck, and head.

Physical Ailments

An orthopedic pillow is designed to provide support to different areas of the body or the whole body. But if you have existing physical ailments, you might need a bit more specialized support. In that case, an orthopedic professional can recommend the right kind of pillow.

Filling Material

Both orthopedic and regular pillows are made from various materials, but memory foam is the most common filling material. Not only is this material supportive and soft, but its heat sensitivity makes it easily mould to any body shape.

Orthopedic pillows are also made of latex, which is a better fit for people who have allergies. Latex, like memory foam, also moulds to your body shape and provides both alignment and support. The pillow’s outer cover can be made of polyester, cotton, or viscose.

Ease of Cleaning

If not regularly cleaned, pillows can become very dusty and dirty. When shopping for an orthopedic pillow, be sure to pick one that’s simple to clean. It should be easy to wash with water or vacuum clean. If you want a pillow that’s easy to clean, choose a suitable material.

Extra Features

Apart from the aforementioned basic pillow features, you can also check for some extras while looking for a high-quality orthopedic pillow. Extra features may include anything from height adjustability and sleeping zones. Or the pillow may come with extra covers based on its unique shape.


Warranty is perhaps the first thing to keep an eye on. If the pillow doesn’t serve you well, then you don’t have to use it. A pillow’s warranty can be anything from a 30-day money-back guarantee to a 1-year warranty. This will give you enough time to decide whether the pillow is fit for purpose or not.


Of course, orthopedic pillows do cost more than regular pillows. Their prices can range from as low as $40 to as much as $200. Before you begin searching for an orthopedic pillow, it’s vital to determine your budget so that you don’t end up spending way too much. Orthopedic pillows are available in different price ranges, so it’s wise to get something that’s within your budget.

Our Top Picks

There is a vast array of orthopedic pillows on the market to suit all sleep styles and levels of comfort, including pillows for back and neck pain, as well as contoured and memory foam pillows. To help you sift through the choices, we’ve collated a few of the best orthopedic pillows out there to help you sleep so comfortably and…………..soundly!

Best Option for Stomach Sleepers: BLISSBURY 2.6″ Thin Memory Foam Sleeping Pillow

Made of memory foam, this orthopedic pillow from BLISSBURY is thin yet supportive, making it ideal for those who sleep on their belly. It’s just 2.5 inches tall, so it never pushes your neck farther back like taller pillows, making it better for sleeping on your stomach.

The memory foam features ventilation holes to adjust temperature, as well as a machine-washable cover made from polyester and bamboo. This pillow also comes with a carrying case, making it perfect for carrying along when travelling. It comes in both gray and white.

Best Pillow for Back and Side Sleepers: EPABO Contour Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow

This memory foam orthopedic pillow from EPABO is curved to provide support to your neck while you sleep on your back and has elevated sides to provide support when you sleep on your side. The pillow features a detachable memory foam panel to help you adjust it to your ideal height.

While this pillow itself isn’t machine-washable, it does include a machine-washable case to allow for easy cleaning. The pillow is available in three different sizes and has more than 7,600 5-star ratings from customers on Amazon, making it a favourite of many.

Best Cooling Pillow: Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Ergo Medium Cooling Neck Pillow

This medium-firm orthopedic pillow from Tempur-Pedic features a contoured shape that’s built to align your shoulders, back, and neck. Both sides of the memory foam pillow have cooling gel technology to help prevent overheating at night, as well as a handy machine-washable cover.

This model is available in just one size, but its none-cooling version comes in four different sizes.

Best Leg Pillow: ComfiLife Bolster Pillow

The ComfiLife Bolster Pillow is ideal for placing under the feet or knees while sleeping to ease your lower back pain. But its flexible half-moon shape means you can also use the pillow as a wedge pillow, lumbar pillow, or footrest.

It’s made of high-density memory foam material that will keep its shape for a long time and also features a machine-washable cover.

Best Knee Pillow: Contour Legacy Knee & Leg Foam Support Pillow

The Contour Legacy Knee & Leg Foam Support Pillow is ideal for placing between the knees while sleeping on your side, thereby helping to ease spinal stress. The curved shape fits the legs, so it remains in place better throughout the night, and its memory foam material is ventilated to promote cooling.

This pillow boasts a handy machine-washable zippered cover, and it has more than 7,400 5-star ratings from Amazon shoppers.

FAQs on How to Find the Best Orthopedic Pillows

Question: Are Orthopedic Pillows Useful?

Answer: Yes, orthopedic pillows are useful. They’re basically ergonomic and therapeutic pillows that help ease issues associated with sleep, including snoring, neck arthritis, apnea, insomnia, or even back pain. They offer a cozier sleeping experience and a much better quality of sleep.

Question: What Pillows Do Physicians Recommend?

Answer: Doctors recommend latex, memory foam, feather, or buckwheat pillows as their materials provide the right balance of pressure relief and support.

Summarizing How to Find the Best Orthopedic Pillows

After reading through our orthopedic pillow buying guide above, you should now be able to choose the best orthopedic pillow for you and your loved ones.

With a regular pillow, your cervical (neck) bones may bend downwards when you’re sleeping and ultimately cause your spine to lose its straightness. This can result in severe misalignment and pain in your spine, which can be hard to correct.

Always make sure to try out a pillow before buying. But when you shop online, you’ll usually get at least 30 days to try it out. If you start to suffer pain in your back or neck during this time, or an existing issue isn’t eased or dealt with, then you can return the product and try another one.

Also, check out our guide to the Best Massage Chairs and The Best Massage Pillow Guide if you’re’ advised that massage could help your injury.

Continue reading:

Our Review of the Belmint Back Massager Pillow

The Best Massage Pillow Guide

How to Find the Best Orthopedic Pillows

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