Since you are here, let’s just agree that nothing in life is so devastating than searing shoulder pain. This situation can get worse enough to make you dread going to bed and opt to spend the night sitting in the living room instead.
We’ve got some great news for you.
The best pillows for shoulder pain are designed purposely for this reason and we have a few models worth trying out. In case you are new to these bed solutions, I’ve also discussed everything that you need to know before buying one in the buying guide section.
What you need to keep in mind
At times, it might not be exactly clear to you whether it’s important to change your pillow or not. In that case, consider your answers to the following inquiries;
- Is your pillow old and worn out?
- Do you feel that your shoulder pain only gets worse when you lie on the pillow?
- Did your favorite pillow stop being effective after sustaining the shoulder injuries?
- Have you tried out another pillow at a friend’s house or hotel and found it comforting?
Our Recommendations for the Best Shoulder Pain Pillows
Sleep Yoga Side Sleeper Posture Pillow- best for improving your posture
I wish to kick-start these reviews with a model that has been designed purposely for the shoulders by chiropractors. Enter the Sleep Yoga.
This pillow has been designed for 2 major reasons; to support your shoulders and improve your posture just like Yoga does. In fact, this is where it derives its name.
The Sleep Yoga has been thoughtfully engineered to offer the side sleepers somewhere to rest their arm as they sleep. This helps in avoiding shoulder forwarding that may aggravate the pain.
What we like is that this pillow supports the elbow, wrist, and hand. This naturally aligns your shoulder joint to boost pain alleviation and pressure point reduction.
Again, we also appreciate that this pillow is lightweight and easy to move during the night without much hassle.
Worth noting, however, is that the Sleep Yoga is not made from memory foam or latex. Rather, it has been crafted from a blend of cotton (45%) and Lyocell (55%). This construction makes it soft, hypoallergenic and breathable.
The major drawback with the Sleep Yoga is that it’s designed purposely for side sleepers. If you switch between side and back sleeping postures regularly, then this might not offer the continuous support that a bad shoulder calls for.
- Soft and breathable
- Small enough to move around
- Thick enough to align your shoulders naturally
- Designed for side sleepers only
- It’s a little bit pricey
Z Gel L-shaped Memory Foam Pillow- Best Ergonomic Pillow
Our next pick here is dedicated to side sleepers who would like optimum support not only for their shoulders but also for their neck and back.
The main thing that attracted us to this model is its L shape. Maxing out at 26’’ by 26’’ by 5’’, the Z pillow cradles your head and neck comfortably and also offers you a support for your arm.
In a similar manner to Sleep Yoga above, the arm support in this pillow protects the ailing shoulder from being pushed back and forth thereby leading to a restful sleep.
Quite different from the Sleep Yoga pillow, this model has been crafted from moldable medium-firm memory foam. The major benefit here is that it molds to your shape both for comfort and support.
The best part, however, is that it always regains its shape after you’ve woken up. So, it does not require to be fluffed and neither will it flatten out easily.
The memory foam used for the Z pillow has been infused with gel liquid to give it an open cell structure and, therefore, curb the issue of sleeping hot.
We also appreciate that it comes with a removable Tencel cover to boost its thermal regulation and to wick away perspiration.
The only drawback with this pillow is that lightweight sleepers might find it a bit firm for them. Most of its previous buyers report that it helped with their bad shoulders and sore muscles. On the other hand, a couple of them found it a bit firm for their neck.
Again, its big size could be a bother to your partner.
- Ergonomic L-shape allows lots of sleeping options
- Good enough to offer arm and back support too
- Eliminates the need for a couple of pillows
- Gel-infused for breathability
- Might be firm for some lightweight sleepers
- It’s quite big (might occupy a large space on your mattress)
Cushy Foam Wedge Pillow- Best option for after-surgery support
Anyone who is recuperating from a shoulder surgery, for instance, after a torn rotator cuff will require top-notch support around the upper back region.
The best part about wedge pillows is that they offer support across the entire upper back, shoulders, neck, and head. And this is the main reason why we had to create a slot for the Cushy Foam in this list.
This is a firm pillow and, thereby, a good choice for mid-to-heavy persons.
Can lightweight users use it? Sure they can! This pillows sloppy design allows you to place your soft pillow on it so it does not feel overly stiff on you.
The Cushy Foam features a high-density foam base that maintains even support all around your back. Its memory foam top layer allows great conformability for natural alignment of the shoulders and also soothes your muscles.
Another great feature that we like about this pillow is its angled and elevated design. This converts your bed into a recliner which is great if you want to watch TV or have your breakfast in bed without hurting your shoulders and back.
Other impressive features include a nicely-made, breathable, removable, and washable cover. It’s a risk-free purchase as well thanks to its 100% satisfaction or money-back guarantee.
Well, this pillow is quite large and might consume a lot of space on your bed. Again, its high-density design might work against most lightweight sleepers.
- Big and elevated for more back support
- High-density offers continuous support for pain alleviation
- Angled design minimizes straining
- Helps in solving breathing and chest issues too
- Occupies a big space on your bed
- Might be too firm for some sleepers
Nakital Memory Foam pillow- Best Inexpensive pillow
The Nakital memory foam pillow is the exact opposite of the Cushy Foam wedge model above. The first thing that we like is its petite design.
Of course, not all of us want to sleep while holding a section of the pillow. Again, this small size (20 “x 12” x 3.9 “) offers a good alternative to the ergonomic pillows that might disturb your partner’s comfort in the bed.
Besides its small size, this pillow has also been contoured to cradle your head and protect your upper back and shoulders from being pushed forward.
This pillows design coupled with its medium-density feel makes it a go-to model for everyone irrespective of their sleeping postures.
The only slight drawback here is that the Nakital might be a bit smaller for stocky sleepers. Again, it might ship with some odor.
There’s no need for alarm though. The manufacturer assures that it will be long gone by the time the pillow expands fully.
- Petite size won’t disturb your partner’s sleep
- Contoured for more head, neck, and upper back support
- Offers both comfort and support
- It’s breathable
- Might be too small for large people
Coop Home Goods memory foam pillow- Best height-adjustable option
Coop is an instantly recognized pillow among people suffering from shoulder and neck pains. In fact, this is one of the most popular pillows online today having garnered an impressive 5/5-star rating from its 13k+ buyers (when typing this).
The main reason why I recommend the Coop Home Goods pillow is the freedom that it gives you to decide the ideal loft for your aching shoulder.
If you are a frequenter and avid reader of our best pillows posts, then you probably know how much we advocate for height-adjustable pillows.
In regard to our topic here, this adjustability means that there is a guarantee of finding just the right size that offers you optimum pain and pressure point relief by either removing or fluffing up the memory chips.
Since it is memory foam, this pillow will instantly respond to your body pressure and temperature to match your body shape for a proper neck, shoulder, and spine alignment.
And the best bit is that it does this without being too firm on you. This means that the Coop can be used by almost everybody including your kids and the seniors.
Most report that this pillow has a strong smell after removing from the package. This is common with memory foam products and will dissipate easily with good airing.
As an assurance of your safety, the Coop Home Goods is CertiPUR-us certified. So, rest assured that it does not contain heavy metals including mercury or PBDEs.
Again, it also comes with a 100-day trial period. You can easily ship it back within this period for a full refund if it does not solve your shoulder pain problem.
- It’s loft-adjustable
- Comfortable yet supportive (not soft not firm)
- Accommodates different sleeping postures
- Certipur-us certified for your safety
- Has a strong odor right off the package
- Heavy people may find it too soft and unsupportive
How to buy a pillow for your shoulder pains
As with any other bedding solution, do know that there isn’t a single type of pillow that is certain to work magic for everyone.
This is because shoulder pain is an umbrella term that refers to discomforts (either mild or excruciating) at your upper back. The fact that these pains arise from varying causes means that what works for another person might not work for you.
So, what matters when buying these pillows?
Consider your sleeping position
The first vital consideration when buying a pillow for your bad shoulder is your typical sleeping position. The main aim here is to get a model that allows you to sleep comfortably without lots of tossing and turning that could cause you to land wrongly on your aching shoulders.
Most people who snooze on their back tend to prefer high loft and too soft pillows. Although these models feel super comfy, they often compromise support for comfort and also flatten out easily.
A pillow that is too soft or too flat will misalign your spine and might also cause a crick in your neck.
Back sleepers need a medium-loft and firm pillow that will offer the much-needed support to their upper back, neck, and head.
It should also contour nicely to your lumbar and cervical curvatures to help relieve sore muscles and pressure points.
According to Michael Breus, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Author of the Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, sleeping on your side offers your spine its most natural alignment- which is great.
Unfortunately, it tends to aggravate your shoulder pain especially if you are using the wrong pillow. This is because you literally put so much weight on one of your shoulders.
Subsequently, you force it into a cramped and awkward position that puts so much pressure and tension on its anatomic structures.
What if that’s the only posture that allows you better sleep?
If this is the only sleeping position that will let you drift into sleep, then consider sleeping on the opposite side of the aching shoulder.
On this note, you want a thick and highly supportive pillow that will fill the gap between your ears and shoulders.
What about sleeping on your front?
Honestly speaking, I would never advocate for this. Most people think that sleeping on the front helps in alleviating most of the pressure around their sore shoulders.
Although this will offer temporary comfort, the major downside is that it pulls your shoulder forward and out of alignment. This only aggravates the pain and worsens the situation.
Consider the material
The type of filling used also speaks volumes about how effective the pillow will be in curbing your shoulder pains.
Memory foam is by far the most popular option. Its popularity emanates from its ability to contour and customize to the sleepers’ body curvature.
As I have explained in my other guide of the best memory foam mattresses, this material reacts to your body weight and temperature to let your pressure points e.g shoulders and buttocks to sink a little bit deeper than other lightweight parts.
Thus, it helps in aligning your spine, upper back and lower joints to offer the quintessential relaxation that they need.
This reactive contouring also helps in relieving pressure points and pains especially around the shoulders and lumbar region.
However, do know that there’s need to choose the thickness and density of the memory foam wisely. Oftentimes, medium density will work for most sleepers. The loft, however, depends on your sleeping style as I hinted earlier on.
This is another viable option for sleepers suffering from shoulder pain. Similar to memory foam, latex has a good amount of contour-ability especially if it has been extracted through the Talalay process.
Latex does not out-compete memory foam with regard to speedy conformability. However, its natural springiness trait gives it speedier resiliency- ability to regain its shape. This means that it offers you continuous support even as you turn and change positions.
Latex pillows also boast better breathability thanks to their natural ventilation and might also last longer. On the other hand, memory foam is a renowned culprit in regard to heat retention.
As a side note, latex tends to run a smidgeon firmer at any given level compared to memory foam. This means that a medium-firm latex pillow may feel quite firm for light-to-mid weight sleepers.
Full block vs Shredded
The next decision to make after identifying the ideal material for your needs is to choose between full block and shredded fillings.
The definite advantage that a shredded foam pillow offers is the ability to adjust the size to customize it to your needs.
If you are tired of purchasing pillows only to realize that they are way too small or too tall for support, then a shredded model might serve you better. The major drawback, however, is that they may require fluffing.
Solid or full block pillows offer constant support without the need to beat or fluff them up in the middle of the night. However, they have minimal forgiveness in regard to size. So, you’ll have to get it correct from go.
The shape has an important role too
Be on the lookout for pillows that have been designed purposely for shoulder back pains too! Unlike the conventional rectangular shaped pillows, the market now has c-shaped, z-shaped, and wedged pillows that tend to do this job much better perhaps.
- Inquire whether the pillow does come with a cover or you need to purchase it separately. Ideally, it should be soft, sweat-wicking and breathable
- Other people’s reviews- don’t underestimate the feedback that previous buyers leave in the reviews’ section. Although most of them need to be taken with a pinch of salt, most verified purchasers offer dependable reviews and first-hand experience with the product.
Waking up in the middle of the night to soothe your aching shoulders is something that we all dread. Morning shoulder pain can last for quite some hours after you’ve woken up. It could also result in arm numbness or even back pain and sciatica at worse.
Luckily, you can control this simply by using the right pillow.
I won’t tell you that there’s a single pillow that will be like a magic pill for everyone in our list above. Of most importance is to get a model that perfectly fits your needs.
On the same note, remember to go through previous buyers’ reviews to get firsthand feedback from buyers who have used it for their bad shoulders.
If you are lost for choice, however, perhaps my personal favorite, the Coop Home Goods might make a good option for you too. You will love that you can adjust its loft to suit your support and comfort needs.
I also like that it is neither too firm nor too soft thanks to its medium-density design. Moreover, it comes in 3 sizes; Queen, King, and Standard and has a 100-day satisfaction or full refund guarantee.