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Orthopedic Pillow Uses
Last Updated: 12/15/2015
Orthopedic Pillow UsesNatural placement of the head and neck, accomplished with the many different styles and shapes of Core cervical pillows, can help relieve intense pain by providing natural and correct posturing in supine (back) and side-sleeping positions.
Cervical support pillows are used when a cervical hypolordosis (less than normal curvature of the spine) exists, to prevent hypolordosis, or when cervical spasms or strains occur. These pillows are orthotic devices (apparatus used to align or support) used to help relieve spasms, remove minor tensions and maintain or resume the natural cervical lordotic curve while at rest.
By providing proper neck support, cervical pillows can help with:
Therapeutic Types of Pillows:
1. Accommodate/Displacement Pillows: Helps relieve pain or discomfort by conforming to and stabilizing an existing condition. Relieves pain or discomfort by conforming to and stabilizing a new or existing injury or condition. Provides comfort, but does little to correct the condition. Typically for short-term use. When a neck injury or condition is acute (serious or to an intense degree, like whiplash or a significant sprain or strain), the healthcare provider’s goal is to relieve a patient's pain and discomfort before beginning treatment. What's needed is to stabilize and accommodate the condition before moving forward. The same is true for other neck injuries or at the onset of many common problems which affect the head and neck. Accommodation/Displacement pillows work well at this stage because they conform to the condition and provide immediate comfort.
Examples: Core Deluxe Water Pillow; Core Memory Foam Pillow
2. Orthopedic Support Pillows: Support pillows are designed to help a. correct and b. maintain proper cervical posture/alignment while sleeping by providing the right amount of resistive feedback into the cervical & upper thoracic musculature.
Special Note: Support type pillows are orthotic devices (like a custom orthotic in your shoe) and therefore may take time to get accustomed to. Healthcare providers should give patients proper education regarding the time needed for training the musculature in accepting the pillow. Although some people can react positively to this type of pillow immediately, others may take up to 2 weeks of gradual increased use through the night. Patient should use pillow to waking tolerance and then switch to previous pillow for the rest of the night. Each successive night, patient should increase time support pillow is used through the night.
Examples: Tri-Core Standard; Tri-Core Gentle; Double Core & Double Core Select Pillows
A. Correct: Helps eliminate symptoms by treating the cause of the condition. Helps correct the cause of pain, supports treatment to regain proper function. At this stage, orthopedic pillows are often prescribed to assist in correcting the diagnosed condition and to help the patient regain proper function. Allows tissue to heal functionally. Prepares for the maintenance stage. Corrective pillows can help alleviate headaches; neck muscle and joint strains, arthritis and whiplash discomfort and help restore proper nerve function. Supportive pillows are used in this stage of care.
B. Maintain: Ensures continued good health by helping sustain the body in its proper, natural posture. Complements care to help prevent recurrence/progression. Pillows selected for the Maintain Stage should ensure continued good health by providing proper positioning and helping preserve the natural curvature of the neck and spine. For ideal maintenance, the pillow should provide maximum support and comfort. In fact, most people discover that once the normal curvature of the neck is restored, they crave the comfort of maximum support - the reason supportive pillows have grown more popular. Supportive pillows are used in this stage of care.
3. Combination Pillows: Combination pillows have a quality or an adjustability that allows the healthcare provider and the user to use the pillow though treatment. The pillow has properties that give an accommodative/displacement function and a supportive function.
Examples: Cervalign; “Core Deluxe Water Pillow; Core Memory Plus;
Differences in Pillow Materials
A. Fiber: Allows for comfort and support. High quality fiber is blown to exact specification to insure uniform distribution and pillow weight.
B. Polyurethane Foam: Has memory to return to original shape. All of the foam used can be classified by two measurements: 1. Density and 2. Indent Load Deflection (ILD). Foam pillows have been around for quite some time. Over the years it has been cut and shaped to provide support and/or correction. **General considered the most supportive pillow material with the longest lifespan of use.
Density: It is often thought that density is a measure of firmness or softness. Actually, Density is merely the weight (in pounds) of a cubic foot of foam. While density does not indicate resiliency, it is an important value in classifying foam products as it is a very good indicator of the product’s quality.
Firmness: Two terms used to express this measurement (a.) Indent Load Deflection or (b.) Indent Force Deflection. Measurement is an indication of how much force is required to compress a cubic foot of foam to half its original height. Foam pillows are measured in this way. (Density does not mean firm!)
Special Note: Polyurethane foam is a flammable substance. Polyurethane foam will also discolor (yellow) which is a natural process. Polyurethane foam will also release an odor for a short period of time in a process called “off-gassing.” This is a natural process and will dissipate over time.
C. Viscoelastic or “Memory” Foam: A secondary type of foam that is very popular as it has a high density and viscosity and works well for very acute conditions or conditions that are not correctable.
D. Water: Pillow type that contains a bladder and is usually used within a fiber style pillow.