Know the reason – what can cause back pains?
Common sources of back pain aren’t necessarily part of a health problem or existing condition, for example old age typically results in back pain as well as minor to major swelling.
However, some major reasons which might explain your back problems include things like strained muscles (or ligaments) which have merely been stretched the wrong way (often through incorrect lifting) and therefore they result in some pain. Another problem which you should consult your physician on are bulging or impacted disks, these are ring-shaped pads which cushion the vertebra along your spine and when swollen will press against the nerves in your back and cause shooting pains.
Arthritis is another common source of back pain, this condition afflicts the joints and some types of arthritis can specifically target the lower back. Osteoporosis creates similar pain, however it’s the result of pores forming in your bones and making them more brittle and more susceptible to pain. Finally, it’s possible that with some back pains you may be experiencing skeletal irregularities –scoliosis can cause these – and the result is chronic muscle aches, shooting or stabbing pains, and an especially limited range of motion. Of course, pregnancy back pains are something else entirely, and often the pain is due to your body producing a hormone which over relaxes your muscles and ligaments allowing you to injure yourself easily doing even the smallest tasks; of course the posture and weight changes also have a major role to play.
Sleep position to the rescue
Sometimes the swiftest way to correcting back pain is to change or correct the way you sleep, especially when certain conditions (such a pregnancy) make it impossible to sleep on your stomach and sometimes even your side. For reaching optimal comfort and relieve back and neck pains, consider some of the following suggestions:
- Try sleeping on your stomach with a pillow between your pelvis. Doing this will relieve stress only along the neck and back disks (especially great for those suffering from bulging or impacted disks). However, for most people sleeping on the stomach can actually worsen existing back pains.
- The fetal position with both knees tucked; this solution bends your upper body toward your knees and likewise expands your spine and moves impacted or swollen disks away from your spine. Throughout the night you may want to change sleeping from side to side, this is a great way to achieve ideal realignment along your spine.
- Side sleeping with a pillow between your knees helps to align your hips and pelvis with your spine (an especially great realignment technique during pregnancy and for those suffering from scoliosis. Additionally, in this position make sure your body makes contact with the mattress between your shoulder and hips.
Tips on choosing a pillow filling
Where sleeping positions alone don’t do anything to improve your sleep and reduce your back pain, pillow fillings will also assist the healing and sleeping processes. However, with such a wide selection of pillow fillings this can be very confusing for many non-sleep-experts. For instance, one such filling – Buckwheat – actually creates good support and a breathable sleep, however it’s often too dense for most sleepers and can’t be changed out or altered for varying levels of support. Additionally, pillows with this filling are highly priced and quite heavy to move around.
A pillow with something like down on the other hand results in an adjustable density with a low flat-lying shape that’s extremely soft; yet these pillows often don’t provide enough support for those with back pain, and also they lose their shape the quickest.
For just back problems the best fillings are those with a medium-high density that conform slightly to your weight and shape. These are pillows filled with latex elements, gels, foams, and especially high density memory foams. The level of support and comfort they provide is ideal for realignment and propping yourself up on.
Consider these features while choosing the pillow for back pain reduction
As you’ll have noticed, many of the following features were listed in the above reviews of the best pillows for back pain. For questions relating to any of these features, or for great suggestions of pillows which best represent feature specifics, please read in the following section.
Size and shape
Picking the size and shape of the pillow you need greatly depends on where your pain is located or what is causing it. For instance, if your back pain is being caused by a third trimester pregnancy than an obvious solution for fixing the back pain would be the QUEEN ROSE Pregnancy Pillow. This pillow has an ideal shape for holding back sleepers and side sleepers while protecting the extended womb and offering a level of support which is also great for realigning your spine. Other sleepers might experience their pain while sitting up or leaning back and watching TV, rather than while laying flat, for these sleepers a great suggestion is the Avana Orthopedic Support Pillow which has an ideal size and shape for propping your back up for a variety of situations.
For back pain specifically, the best firmness is achieved with a pillow that provides a medium-high density. These pillows typically use foam or gels to provide you the support you need with enough give to conform around your neck and shoulders. Ideal comfort is achieved from being slightly cushioned but not sunk into a pillow. For instance, the Sweetnight Pillow is filled with shredded foam that’s dense enough to create necessary alignment while still cushioning ever so slightly around your neck.
Thickness and filling
Different filings will result in varying thicknesses. A feather pillow or pillow stuffed with down will typically sink quite low and lose its shape once you’re lying down. These pillows aren’t typically the best for your relieving back pain because they offer very limited support; though down and feather pillows are nicer on your neck. Therefore the best pillow fillings which will assist in your recovery and help with back pain are those which are marginally thicker – foams and gels – that still offer sinking comfort at night.
The pillows on our list all use fabrics which are machine washable and hypoallergenic. In replacing these covers, buying new ones, or choosing pillows outside of this list, know that the best covers are machine washable and assist your breathing by decreasing dust attachment, pet dander, allergic materials, and bacteria growth.
Better warranties for expensive pillows last at least 2 or more years, otherwise there is some risk in purchasing a pillow which may or may not help reduce your back pain. Money-back guaranteed options are by far the best, this is because not every pillow solution will fit your needs, and for some there are certain back pillows which actually further exacerbate a problem. Rule of thumb: pick the warranty that gives you time to test your pillow out and ensure it helps sooth your pains while also performing well over multiple nights.