5 Best Pillows for Shoulder Pain

Last updated February, 20 2020 Read 20 min
Author: Alex Savy

Nagging pain in your shoulders can easily ruin your sleep and wreck your mood, it’s a fact.

But what if I told you that you can minimize painful sensations or completely get rid of them if you only replace your pillow?

Yes, this small bedding accessory — when selected based on your body needs — can do wonders.

So, sit down and check out my reviews of the best pillows for shoulder pain as well as a buying guide below, which will hopefully help you find the perfect fit.

A Quick Preview

Codi
Best Overall

Codi
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Sleep Artisan
Best for Cool Sleep

Sleep Artisan
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PureComfort
Best Value for Money

PureComfort
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Eden by Coop Home Goods
Best for Adjustable Loft

Eden by Coop Home Goods
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Queen Anne
Best for Moldability

Queen Anne
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Our Reviews of 5 Best Pillows for Shoulder Pain Relief

Best Overall - Codi

Codi

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Highlights

  • suits any type of sleeper;
  • doesn’t sleep hot;
  • washable Tencel cover.

The Codi is one of the best pillows for shoulder pain thanks to its adjustable design and the combination of materials used. It can mold to your neck and shoulders and offer painless sleep in any position.

The pillow is filled with shredded gel memory foam. This material has all the advantages of standard memory foam, meaning it cradles your pressure points while supporting your neck. Along with that, it doesn’t have the main issue of memory foam — heat retention. 

The manufacturer enhances cooling effects by offering you a breathable inner case and a Tencel pillow cover. Tencel naturally feels cool and wicks away moisture. The cover is also washing machine friendly for easier maintenance.

The Codi has an adjustable loft, which makes it suitable for any type of sleeper. The manufacturer will send you an additional package with filling, so you can change the pillow’s thickness based on your preferences.

To sum it up, I really enjoyed sleeping on the Codi. It has a great hug yet supports your head and neck properly. Combine this with a good cooling effect — and you’ll get a perfect pillow for literally anyone.

Best for Cool Sleep  - Sleep Artisan

Sleep Artisan

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Highlights

  • curved design for better pain relief;
  • comes overstuffed and has a zipper, so you can adjust the height;
  • very breathable and cooling.

Moving further in my review of the best pillows for shoulder pain, and here’s the model by Sleep Artisan. This pillow with a curved design for proper neck and head support is made to cool down even the chronic hot sleeper, and here’s how.

First, the pillow features a blend of natural shredded latex and poly fibers as the filling. These materials are naturally cool and breathable, and little shredded pieces promote airflow inside the pillow for even better heat dissipation.

Second, the cover feels cool to the touch and absorbs moisture very well. Made of natural cotton, hemp, and poly fibers, it’s also washable, so it will easily withstand active exploitation while being easy to maintain.

The pillow has a medium feel and offers you a great hug, which can reduce the shoulder and neck pain in any sleeping position. The concave design helps maintain proper spine alignment and prevent muscle strains.
The Sleep Artisan could be a great choice for those who are looking for a cool and hypoallergenic pillow and don’t mind experimenting with the thickness.

Best Value for Money PureComfort

PureComfort

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Highglights

  • great value for money;
  • adjustable loft;
  • washable Tencel cover.

The next option in this review of the best pillows for shoulder pain is the PureComfort, and the main reason why it’s here is the value for money it offers. This pillow won’t cost you an arm and a leg but will still support your head and relieve pain for years to come, just like its more expensive competitors. 

So, the pillow has a curved gusset design for better contouring. It removes pressure from your shoulders, allowing them to relax, and prevents any pain.

The fill is made of shredded memory foam and is pretty moldable. The foam adjusts to your head’s shape and keeps the neck muscles relaxed while you sleep, so you can say goodbye to morning stiffness.

The PureComfort is encased in a cooling Tencel cover. It helps remove heat from your body and keeps you cool and dry throughout the night. Along with that, Tencel fabric is completely hypoallergenic and easily withstands multiple washes, which makes the maintenance of the pillow as easy as pie.
Overall, I can recommend the PureComfort as a reliable and comfortable low-cost option. It’s pretty basic and has no bells and whistles. Still, it can support you and relieve shoulder pain and tension without sleeping hot.

Best for Adjustable Loft - Eden by Coop Home GoodsCoop Home Goods

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Highglights

  • adjustable loft, great for combo sleepers;
  • incredibly cradling;
  • washing machine-friendly cover.

No one likes having shoulder pain. But when you’re an active or mixed sleeper, things can get even worse. Since all sleeping positions require a pillow with a different height, it may seem nearly impossible to find a model that will be moldable and easy to adjust. That’s why I’ve added the Eden Coop Home Goods to my review of the best pillows for shoulder pain.

This pillow is filled with gel-infused memory foam shreds, so you can expect both exceptional moldability and some cooling during sleep. The Eden contours your head very closely and supports the neutral alignment of the neck in any position.

Depending on your sleep preferences, you can remove some amount of the fill or add it from the extra bag the pillow comes with, to make your pillow firmer or softer. The default feel is medium to medium-firm, which is perfect for back sleepers and heavy individuals.

The outer cover is made with bamboo rayon, which makes it incredibly soft to the touch and cool. It will enhance the breathability of the pillow and help it wick away moisture throughout the night. Besides, the cover really looks nice, which is a plus if you’re not planning to use an additional pillowcase.

To sum it up, I really liked testing the Coop Home Goods pillow. It’s comfortable and can be adjusted to any sleeping position while still offering you support and relieving shoulder pain and stiffness.

Best for Moldability - Queen AnneQueen Anne

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Click on the button below to check price and go shopping

Check current price on Amazon Shop Now on Amazon

Click on the button below to check price and go shopping

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Highglights

  • breathable down alternative filling;
  • fluffy and cradling;
  • comes in three firmness levels.

The Queen Anne claims its place in my review of the best pillows for shoulder pain because it’s the Queen of moldability. This hotel-quality pillow features the down alternative filling that can closely conform to your head and may alleviate even chronic shoulder pain.

Aside from that, this pillow is also available in different sizes and firmness levels, so you can easily choose the option that suits your needs.

The pillow has a standard shape and is very fluffy. After you get up, it quickly bounces back to the initial shape, so you can expect that it will support your head without getting flat for a long time. 

Down alternative retains little to no heat and is very breathable, so even chronic hot sleepers will be pleased. We tested this pillow on some of the hottest nights ever and slept fine without sweating or overheating.

As you can see, the Queen Anne is a great pillow for the fans of fiberfill models. It’s comfortable and able to precisely contour your head and neck in your favorite sleeping position.

Why Does Shoulder Pain Appear?

Why Does Shoulder Pain Appear

Before we dive into the details of choosing the right pillow for shoulder pain, let’s try to understand this condition a bit better and see why a simple change of a pillow might help you deal with it.

The shoulder is a complex yet very fragile joint. If one of the numerous tendons and deep muscles gets inflamed or injured, this will affect the whole joint, leading to painful sensations and limited mobility.

Now, all the causes of shoulder pain can be divided into two large groups: medical and non-medical. 

Medical causes include:

  • tendon tears;
  • joint dislocation;
  • swollen bursa sacs;
  • arthritis;
  • spinal cord injuries.

Also, if you have problems in the cervical spine, the pain may spread into your shoulders.

Most of the medical causes result in chronic shoulder pain and require doctor supervision.

Non-medical causes are typically connected to such things as:

  • Posture problems. Continuous spine misalignment during daily activities may cause some nerves in the cervical and chest regions to get squeezed. These nerves go through the upper body, so when they become pinched, you may start to experience shoulder and arm pain.
  • Repetitive actions and shoulder joint load. If you work with your hands, your shoulders might get overly tired and start to hurt.
  • Unsuitable mattress or pillow. When your pillow and mattress don’t support your body properly, your shoulders may go out of alignment, which might lead to pain and stiffness.

“If you’re a side sleeper and your mattress is on the firmer side, consider investing in a soft or medium mattress topper. The topper will add some cushioning and allow you to sink deeper so that your shoulders stay aligned with the spine.”

Does Your Sleep Position Affect Shoulder Pain?

The way you sleep can either give you the best shut-eye in your life or turn you into an aching and grumpy human being. When it comes to choosing a good pillow for shoulder pain relief, your sleeping position should be the first thing to consider.

So, let me briefly explain to you how each sleeping position affects your shoulders:

  • Back sleeping. This sleeping position is considered the healthiest for your spine, as it helps maintain proper alignment and relax all the muscles. Speaking of shoulder pain, sleeping in the supine position on a slightly elevated surface — say, by using a wedge-shaped pillow — may decrease the pressure on the scapulas and reduce shoulder pain, even if they are caused by arthritis or another chronic condition. The optimal firmness level for back sleepers with shoulder pain is medium.
  • Side sleeping. There’s a hypothesis that the lateral sleeping position is the most detrimental to your shoulders, and I agree with that. When you sleep on your side, you literally put your body weight on the shoulder. And if you’re a large sleeper — or, if your mattress is on the firmer side — your shoulder will have to withstand even bigger pressure. The good news is, if you choose a thick and firm pillow, the impact of the body weight on your shoulder belt will decrease, helping you sleep comfortably. Note that the width of your shoulders matters — your pillow should fill the space between your head and the mattress surface completely.
  • Stomach sleeping. This position has a highly negative impact on your lower back and neck. Since overstrained neck muscles and pinched nerves in the cervical spine may indirectly affect shoulders, it’s better to avoid stomach sleeping at all. If you can’t do so, at least use a thin and moldable pillow to ensure that your neck won’t be awkwardly curved.

“Mixed sleepers can monitor what sleeping positions they choose more often and choose the pillow based on that.”

Best and Worst Types of Pillows for Shoulder Pain Reviewed

Best and Worst Types of Pillows for Shoulder Pain Reviewed

Most of the manufacturers today update their pillow line-up from time to time, which can turn the process of finding the best pillow for shoulder pain into a daunting task.

I’ve got a pro tip for you.

Start with defining the materials!

That’s what never changes. Here are the most common materials used in pillows, listed starting from the one that works for shoulder pain most effectively:

  • Memory foam shreds. Standard viscoelastic or gel-infused shredded foam is the most popular filling for pillows. There are several reasons for that: this material has all the advantages of the standard memory foam, such as pressure relief and moldability, but it won’t disappoint you with poor thermoregulation. Also, shredded memory foam is fluffier and can adjust to your head shape better than the solid foam chunk.
  • Latex shreds. Very similar to the previous material, latex shreds can be made either from natural latex or latex blends. The latter is not so different from the standard memory foam and has roughly the same features and downsides. Natural latex shreds, on the other hand, can offer you much cooler sleep, as well as better durability and moldability, which could be a plus for individuals with chronic shoulder pain or those who are prone to hot sleeping.
  • Natural down and fiberfill down alternatives. Natural and synthetic down pillows are incredibly lightweight and fluffy. They create a soft cocoon around your head and neck, adapting to your body temperature so that you wouldn’t sleep hot. Many sleep experts recommend natural down and its alternatives for individuals with neck and shoulder pain caused by arthritis and other bone and joint diseases. But if you’re a side sleeper, such pillows might appear to be too soft.
  • Buckwheat hulls. Odorless, hypoallergenic, and breathable, buckwheat hulls can mold to your head and neck and give you great pain relief. It may take time to get used to their specific feel, as the hulls may seem a bit too rigid at first. Not everyone likes this.
  • Solid latex. A solid chunk of latex may offer the right amount of comfort and support for your head and neck, but it will limit your choice of sleeping positions during the night. 
  • Solid memory foam. Solid memory foam is cradling and comfortable. But the problem is that it has a fixed height and cannot be fluffed to contour your head more closely. Also, solid foam pillows typically are made for one or two sleeping positions and may not suit mixed sleepers.

Bottom line?

I’d recommend you to go for shredded memory foam or latex. You will be able to easily fluff such a pillow and adjust it to get the comfort and shoulder pain relief you want.

Things to Consider When Shopping for a Suitable Pillow for Shoulder Pain

Finally, let’s add some final touches to the idea of your perfect pillow, which you have probably formed in your mind by now. 

Here are a few more thingsThings to Consider When Shopping for a Suitable Pillow for Shoulder Pain you should consider to tailor your choice to your sleeping needs:

  • Adjustable loft. Pillows with the regulated height and firmness level are the best, in my opinion. You can adjust them to any sleeping preferences in minutes, which lowers the chances of waking up with shoulder pain. 
  • Gusset. A gusset is a piece of fabric around the perimeter that allows you to make the pillow higher. This may result in better pain relief for side sleepers who are more prone to experiencing shoulder pain. Pillows with a gusset can also distribute your head’s weight better. Aside from that, they often come with an adjustable height. You may want to choose models with mesh gussets for additional air circulation during sleep.
  • Firmness. Now, I have mentioned how your sleep position could be connected with your pillow’s firmness level earlier. But let’s sum it up. Side sleepers typically need a firmer pillow that won’t give in under their head’s weight, causing misalignment. Stomach sleepers benefit the most from a thin soft pillow that won’t create awkward curves in their neck, thus straining shoulder muscles. Back sleepers are recommended to use medium firmness to keep their shoulders relaxed.
  • Thermoregulation. Low temperatures make sleep more restorative, which can help you heal faster and reduce shoulder pain, especially if it was caused by an injury. Give your preference to natural materials, or choose gel-infused synthetic foams that have a better cooling effect than non-infused ones.

Summary

Shoulder pain can be unbearable sometimes, I know. But here’s the good news: A properly chosen pillow may help you significantly reduce the symptoms (if the pain is caused by a medical condition) or even get rid of the pain completely (if it was provoked by misalignment due to an unsuitable pillow). Now, all the models I’ve reviewed feature incredible contouring properties and can help alleviate the pressure in your shoulder area. But if I had to choose the most comfortable one of them, it would be the Codi pillow. It has a perfect loft — which you can change if you want to — it sleeps cool, and it’s made of durable and quality material that can withstand active use. How do you cope with shoulder pain? What is important for you when choosing a pillow for shoulder pain relief? Share with us below!

Our research

65

Mattresses Consedered

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Hours of Research

5

Mattress Executives Interviewed

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Sleep Experts Consulted

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