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

Gordon, Susan J., Grimmer-Somers, Karen A., and Trott, Patricia H. (2010) Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain. Journal of Pain research, 3. pp. 137-145.

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Abstract

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.

Item ID: 15806
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: pillow type, cervical stiffness, arm pain, headache
Additional Information:

© 2010 Gordon et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd. From journal website:This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

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ISSN: 1178-7090
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2011 03:48
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110399 Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920116 Skeletal System and Disorders (incl. Arthritis) @ 100%
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