Background: Special neck support pillows claiming to improve rest and reduce neck pain are currently being advertised.
Objective: To test whether neck pillows have any positive effect on neck pain and quality of sleep compared with usual pillows and, if so, to find the optimal characteristics of such a pillow.
Methods: Thirty-seven hospital employees and 18 neck patients were asked to test six neck pillows with different shapes and consistency randomly over the course of 3 wk, to grade them according to comfort and to describe the characteristics of an ideal pillow.
Results: Thirty-six of 55 persons found the pillows positively affected sleep and 27 of 42 found that they positively affected neck pain. The ideal pillow should be soft and not too high, should provide neck support and should be allergy-tested and washable. The pillow that included two firmer supporting cores for neck lordosis received the best rating.
Conclusion: A neck pillow with good shape and consistency and with firm support for cervical lordosis can be recommended as a part of treatment for neck pain.