Injury type: Acute/chronic

Category: Lifestyle options

Rating: No research

What is it?

A cervical pillow, also known as an orthopaedic pillow, is a pillow designed to correct the positioning of the body in bed or while lying down. They are designed to ensure the right placement and support of the neck to provide safe and healthy rest to the sleeper. They have been traditionally made of foam and fibre, but other types now exist, such as pillows made of memory foam, a heat sensitive material that can acquire the shape of the body lying upon it.

How does it work?

It is proposed that cervical pillows help maintain the neck in a neutral position, thus preventing any stress on the spine while you sleep. As such, they may help prevent neck symptoms and help a person with whiplash to get a good night’s sleep. They may also help circulation and breathing and conditions such as sleep apnoea.

Is it effective?

A synthesis of evidence1 which focused on spinal pain, including neck pain but not specifically whiplash, found that pillows were not effective in improving pain, when compared to another pillow or pain intervention. On the other hand, a randomised controlled trial2 reported that spring pillow was more effective than education for improving cervical and thoracic pain, as well as headache in patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. There is no evidence on the use of cervical pillows in the management of whiplash.

Are there any disadvantages?

It may take you a few nights to get used to the cervical pillow but it should not be uncomfortable or prevent you sleeping. If the pillow is not comfortable within a week it should no longer be used.

Where do you get it?

There are many different brands and types of pillows on the market. They can be found on the internet and at department or bedding stores.


The use of cervical pillows cannot be recommended following whiplash based on the lack of research evidence. More research is required.