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The shoulder is a complex joint consisting of bone, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Pain in this area is common, and having the wrong type of pillow may trigger or exacerbate it.

Shoulder pain is often worse at night and can interfere with sleep. However, finding a more suitable type of pillow may ease discomfort and encourage a restful sleep.

In this article, we look at nine pillows that may help alleviate shoulder pain.

A quick look at 7 of the best pillows for shoulder pain

Overall, pillows that keep their shape and do not require frequent fluffing may be a better choice for people with nighttime aches and pains.

However, the right choice ultimately depends on a person’s sleeping position and preference. The following sleeping styles may benefit from particular pillows:

  • Back sleepers: A person who sleeps on their back may benefit from a thinner pillow that does not position the head too far forward.
  • Stomach sleepers: An individual who sleeps on their stomach should opt for the thinnest pillow available to maintain head and neck alignment. A thicker pillow can extend the neck and cause pain.
  • Side sleepers: Someone who sleeps on their side should use a firm pillow with sufficient thickness to fill the gap between the ear and shoulder. A gusseted pillow with rectangular panels along all four sides may be most suitable.

Medical News Today chooses mattresses, sheets, pillows, and other bedding that meet the following criteria where possible:

  • Certifications: MNT will choose products that feature CertiPUR-US or other certifications. This means that these products are low in pollutants and free from heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.
  • Size: MNT chooses products that are available in various sizes.
  • Materials and fill: MNT selects products comprising different materials and fills, such as memory foam and latex, to suit a range of sleep and lifestyles.
  • Budget: MNT features products to suit a wide range of budgets.

People seeking relief from shoulder pain can choose from a wide range of pillows. Some of these options are below.

Best for a firm pillow: Therapeutica Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow

This is a molded memory foam pillow with a head cradle for back-sleepers and a wedge for upper back support.

Additionally, it features raised pillow edges to support the shoulders, so it may be especially helpful for those who sleep on their side.

The pillow is available in various sizes and two firmness levels. It also comes with a 5-year warranty.

Price: The Therapeutica Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow has a list price of around $108.

Best for a cooling pillow: The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow

This pillow’s curved shape reportedly supports the shoulders and neck and promotes spinal alignment.

The copper-infused memory foam may also help sleepers stay cool.

Price: The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow has a list price of around $100.

Best for traveling: Ecosa Memory Foam Pillow

This product’s ergonomic design reportedly supports the curvature of the neck. It also has adjustable pads that allow for varying heights.

The pillow also comes with two types of compression bags, making it a convenient option for people who travel.

Price: The Ecosa Memory Foam Pillow has a list price of $100.

Best for side sleepers: Sleep Artisan Side Sleeper Pillow

This pillow features adjustable firmness, which means people can adjust its fill for more support for their neck and shoulders.

The pillow cover contains cotton, hemp, and poly blend, while the filling consists of latex.

While this pillow is reportedly suitable for side sleepers, reviewers also state that it is comfortable for back sleepers.

Price: The Sleep Artisan Side Sleeper Pillow has a list price of around $99.

Best for a cervical pillow: ZAMAT Adjustable Cervical Memory Foam Pillow

This cervical pillow contains CertiPUR-US memory foam and may help ease neck and shoulder pain.

People can adjust the height of this pillow to suit different sleeping styles. Its maker claims that this pillow will rebound into its original shape after each sleep.

Price: The ZAMAT Adjustable Cervical Memory Foam Pillow has a list price of around $56.

Best for a hypoallergenic pillow: Dream Rite Shredded Hypoallergenic Memory Foam Pillow

This pillow contains shredded memory foam and polyester fiber. People can add or remove filling to reach their desired loft.

The pillow’s maker states that this pillow provides total body support. The cover and fill are hypoallergenic and machine washable.

Price: The Dream Rite Shredded Hypoallergenic Memory Foam Pillow has a list price of around $26.

Best for a water pillow: The Mediflow Fiber Water Pillow

This pillow consists of a sealed water pouch and a layer of resilient polyester fiber.

The maker of this product highlights that this is a unique design. The water within the pillow shifts to accommodate the sleeper’s position, and a person can adjust the amount of water to adjust its firmness.

The company also claims that its water-based technology has undergone clinical research to show that it reduces neck pain and improves overall sleep quality.

Price: The Mediflow Fiber Water Pillow has a list price of around $70.

The below table compares the pillows in this article.

FillSleeping styleList price
Therapeutica Pillowmemory foamall sleeping stylesaround $108
The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillowmemory foamside sleepersaround $100
Ecosa Memory Foam Pillowmemory foamall sleeping stylesaround $100
Sleep Artisan Side Sleeper Pillowlatexside sleepersaround $99
ZAMAT Adjustable Cervical Memory Foam Pillowmemory foamall sleeping stylesaround $56
Dream Rite Shredded Hypoallergenic Memory Foam Pillowshredded memory foam and polyester fiberall sleeping stylesaround $26
The Mediflow Fiber Water Pillowwater and polyester fiberall sleeping stylesaround $70

Shoulder pain may go away with rest and home care, which might involve:

  • performing gentle shoulder stretches
  • applying ice to the area
  • taking over-the-counter pain relief medication

However, a person who experiences any of the following symptoms should speak with a doctor:

  • severe or persistent pain
  • a limited range of motion in the shoulder
  • weakness in the shoulder
  • pain following a shoulder injury

Below are some common questions and answers about pillows for shoulder pain.

What filling type makes a good pillow?

The best filling for a pillow depends on a person’s preferences.

For example, if someone prefers a more supportive pillow, memory foam or latex fills may be preferable.

How can I use a body pillow to relieve shoulder pain?

A recent small study of eight people found that using a body pillow to sleep on their left-hand side reduces body pressure on the hips, shoulders, and across the body.

However, this was a small-scale study, so more research is necessary to investigate the benefits of body pillows for relieving shoulder pain.

Shoulder pain is common and often worsens at night, disrupting sleep.

The right type of pillow may help relieve pain, and the choice may come down to a person’s preferred sleeping position.

If shoulder pain does not improve with rest and care at home, an individual should seek medical advice.