Back to Browse Journals » Journal of Pain Research » Volume 3

Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain

Authors Susan J Gordon, Karen A Grimmer-Somers, Patricia H Trott

Published Date August 2010 Volume 2010:3 Pages 137—145

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S10880

Published 11 August 2010

Susan J Gordon1,2, Karen A Grimmer-Somers3, Patricia H Trott4
1Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia; 2Member, International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, Australia; 3Professor of Allied Health, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Director, International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, Australia; 4Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia

Background: Pillows are intended to support the head and neck in a neutral position to minimize biomechanical stresses on cervical structures whilst sleeping. Biomechanical stresses are associated with waking cervical symptoms. This paper adds to the scant body of research investigating whether different pillow types produce different types and frequencies of waking symptoms in asymptomatic subjects.

Methods: A random-allocation block-design blinded field trial was conducted in a large South Australian regional town. Subjects were side-sleepers using one pillow only, and not receiving treatment for cervicothoracic problems. Waking cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain were recorded daily. Five experimental pillows (polyester, foam regular, foam contour, feather, and latex) were each trialed for a week. Subjects’ ‘own’ pillow was the control (a baseline week, and a washout week between each experimental pillow trial week). Subjects reported waking symptoms related to known factors (other than the pillow), and subjects could ‘drop out’ of any trial pillow week.

Results: Disturbed sleep unrelated to the pillow was common. Waking symptoms occurring at least once in the baseline week were reported by approximately 20% of the subjects on their ‘own’ pillow. The feather trial pillow performed least well, producing the highest frequency of waking symptoms, while the latex pillow performed best. The greatest number of ‘drop outs’ occurred on the feather pillow. The foam contour pillow performed no better than the foam regular pillow.

Conclusion: ‘Own’ pillows did not guarantee symptom-free waking, and thus were a questionable control. The trial pillows had different waking symptom profiles. Latex pillows can be recommended over any other type for control of waking headache and scapular/arm pain.
Keywords: pillow type, cervical stiffness, arm pain, headache

Download Article [PDF] 

Creative Commons License This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. Permissions beyond the scope of the License are administered by Dove Medical Press Limited. Information on how to request permission may be found at: http://www.dovepress.com/permissions.php

Other articles by this author:

Measuring the quality of allied health services in Australia: is it a case of “the more we learn, the less we know?”

Grimmer-Somers K, Milanese S, Kumar S

Journal of Healthcare Leadership 2012, 4:71-81

Published Date: 27 July 2012

Extended scope physiotherapy roles for orthopedic outpatients: an update systematic review of the literature

Stanhope J, Grimmer-Somers K, Milanese S, Kumar S, Morris J

Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare 2012, 5:37-45

Published Date: 7 February 2012

Measuring children’s distress during burns dressing changes: literature search for measures appropriate for indigenous children in South Africa

Louw QA, Grimmer-Somers K, Schrikk A

Journal of Pain Research 2011, 4:263-277

Published Date: 6 September 2011

Effectiveness of a physiotherapy-initiated telephone triage of orthopedic waitlist patients

Morris J, Grimmer-Somers K, Kumar S, Murphy K, Gilmore L, Ashman B, Perera C, Vine K, Coulter C

Patient Related Outcome Measures 2011, 2:151-159

Published Date: 22 August 2011

Measuring the impact of allied health research

Heath J, Grimmer-Somers K, Milanese S, Hillier S, King E, Johnston K, Wall K, Thorpe O, Young A, Kumar S

Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare 2011, 4:191-207

Published Date: 15 June 2011

Primary care assessment instruments for patients at risk of, or with, persistent pain: opportunistic findings from a systematic literature review

Karen Grimmer-Somers, Saravana Kumar, Nic Vipond, Gillian Hall

International Journal of General Medicine 2009, 2:121-128

Published Date: 25 June 2009

A review and critique of assessment instruments for patients with persistent pain

Karen Grimmer-Somers, Nic Vipond, Saravana Kumar, Gillian Hall

Journal of Pain Research 2009, 2:21-47

Published Date: 11 March 2009

Yellow flag scores in a compensable New Zealand cohort suffering acute low back pain

Karen Grimmer-Somers, Mathew Prior, Jim Robertson

Journal of Pain Research 2008, 1:15-25

Published Date: 4 December 2008

Readers of this article also read:

New product development with the innovative biomolecular sublingual immunotherapy formulations for the management of allergic rhinitis [Corrigendum]

Frati F, Cecchi L, Scala E, Ridolo E, Dell'Albani I, Makrì E, Pajno GB, Incorvaia C

Biologics: Targets and Therapy 2015, 9:45-46

Published Date: 29 June 2015

Effect of nanofiber content on bone regeneration of silk fibroin/poly(ε-caprolactone) nano/microfibrous composite scaffolds

Kim BS, Park KE, Kim MH, You HK, Lee J, Park WH

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2015, 10:485-502

Published Date: 9 January 2015

Green synthesis of water-soluble nontoxic polymeric nanocomposites containing silver nanoparticles

Prozorova GF, Pozdnyakov AS, Kuznetsova NP, Korzhova SA, Emel’yanov AI, Ermakova TG, Fadeeva TV, Sosedova LM

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2014, 9:1883-1889

Published Date: 16 April 2014

The Nanomaterial Registry: facilitating the sharing and analysis of data in the diverse nanomaterial community

Ostraat ML, Mills KC, Guzan KA, Murry D

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2013, 8:7-13

Published Date: 16 September 2013

Self-assembled supramolecular nano vesicles for safe and highly efficient gene delivery to solid tumors

Li W, Li H, Li J, Wang H, Zhao H, Zhang L, Xia Y, Ye Z, Gao J, Dai J, Wang H, Guo Y

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2012, 7:4661-4677

Published Date: 22 August 2012

Corrigendum

Schneider EW, Johnson MW

Clinical Ophthalmology 2011, 5:1315-1316

Published Date: 16 September 2011

Hearing disability in patients with Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy: unrecognized co-pathology?

Stehouwer M, Bijlsma WR, Van der Lelij A

Clinical Ophthalmology 2011, 5:1297-1301

Published Date: 9 September 2011

Pigmented basal cell carcinoma of the eyelid in Hispanics

Lily Koo Lin, Han Lee, Eli Chang

Clinical Ophthalmology 2008, 2:641-643

Published Date: 6 October 2008