How to shop for a lumbar support pillow to ease your lower back pain

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Lumbar pillows help alleviate lower back pain by providing support to the lumbar spine. Tempur Pedic; Cushion Lab; Amazon

Suffering from chronic low back pain, regardless of your age or health status, imposes a great deal of stress and inconvenience on everyday life. Unfortunately, the condition is extremely prevalent in a range of demographics. As of 2020, over 600 million people globally suffer from some form of low back pain, which is also the single leading cause of disability globally, according to the World Health Organization. However, there are ways to combat low back pain, including an ergonomic lumbar support pillow.

To learn more about what causes lower back pain, what lumbar support cushions are and how they function, we spoke with experts, including chiropractors. Additionally, we rounded up product recommendations from experts and incorporated their guidance on shopping for lumbar support pillows.

SKIP AHEAD: How we picked the best lumbar support pillows | The best lumbar support pillows in 2024 | How to shop for lumbar support pillows

To pick the best lumbar support pillows, we rounded up recommendations from experts, including chiropractors Dr. Matthew Cavanaugh and Dr. Allen Conrad. When it comes to shopping for lumbar support pillows, our experts recommended keeping the following characteristics in mind:

We considered guidance from experts in chiropractic care and high ratings to round up a list of the best lumbar support pillows to help alleviate low back pain.

The Cushion Lab sells a wide variety of pillows and cushions for various purposes, including this popular lumbar pain relief pillow. The cushion’s unique shape is intentionally designed to target and support particular points in the lower back. This pillow comes recommended by Cavanaugh, who says it’s a versatile option that works in different seats. The pillow comes with a breathable cover and has a firm memory foam material that provides support whether you’re using it on a couch or traditional office chair, according to the brand. Plus, the cushion is available in 23 colors, which is more than any other pillow on this list.

Washable cover: Yes | Adjustable strap: Yes | Material: Memory foam | Shape: Oblong | Dimensions: 16 x 16 in.

The lumbar support pillow from Qutool was designed to fit many different types of seats, according to the brand. Cavanaugh recommends this pillow, which he says is a good choice for those who spend a lot of time seated. The cushion has a rounded shape at the bottom for lumbar support, but it also has cushioning for the middle and upper parts of the back for those who need a little extra support. The cushion has two large straps on the back, which you use to fasten the cushion to whatever you’re sitting on.

Washable cover: Yes | Adjustable strap: Yes | Material: Memory foam | Shape: Rectangular | Dimensions: 17 x 15.5 x 4.7 in.

Conrad recommends this lumbar support pillow from Samsonite, which he says many patients find comfortable and they like that it provides a good amount of back support. The product is designed to maintain its curved shape without flattening or becoming flimsy over time, according to the brand. The shape of the pillow is not only meant to help provide some relief, but it helps promote better posture over time by complimenting the curve of your back.

Washable cover: Yes | Adjustable strap: Yes | Material: Memory foam | Shape: Square | Dimensions: 13.5 x 14 x 4.5 in.

This travel-friendly lumbar cushion from well-known mattress brand Tempur-Pedic comes recommended by Cavanaugh, who likes its dimension and portability. “This lumbar support travel cushion is perfectly sized to be taken anywhere you go and is ergonomically shaped to provide the support your lower back needs,” he says. The cushion itself is square-shaped so it lies flat, which makes it easy to store and travel with. Additionally, the pillow is made from the brand’s proprietary Tempur material, which offers more support and pressure relief to the body compared to traditional memory foam, according to the brand.

Washable cover: Yes | Adjustable strap: No | Material: Tempur material | Shape: Square | Dimensions: 10 x 11 x 2 in

Conrad also recommends this square-shaped lumbar pillow from Sleep Number, which he likes for its affordability and you can easily move it between different types of seats and chairs. “The Sleep number beds were quite popular over the years and so is the back support pillow,” he says. “This one is a bit softer, but is cost effective and easy to travel from a chair to your car seat if needed.” The pillow also comes with a removable, machine-washable microfiber cover.

Washable cover: Yes | Adjustable strap: No | Material: Memory foam | Shape: Square | Dimensions: 15.5 x 13 x 5.5 in

Everlasting Comfort comfort makes a variety of wellness-related and ergonomic products, including this lumbar support pillow. The cushion has a 4.4 star average with over 40,000 reviews on Amazon and is fine to use on office chairs, car seats, couches and gaming chairs, according to the brand. The straps on the back of the pillow make it easy to fasten to each seat, this way you don’t have to worry about it shifting as you move throughout the day. In addition to providing posture support, the contour of the cushion and the extended sides conform to the shape of your lower back.

Washable cover: Yes | Adjustable strap: Yes Material: Memory foam | Shape: Square

A good lumbar support pillow depends a lot on the person using it. This means that a certain pillow might be a perfect match for one person and completely incompatible for another. Some people may need a pillow that provides a lot of pressure, while others simply want a bit of cushion. Cavanaugh recommends testing out lumbar support pillows in person if possible, since it’s difficult to gauge how a pillow feels virtually. In addition to doing research online, consider going to a local bedding or orthopedic store.

In addition to shape, size and firmness, Conrad recommends considering your height. That’s because certain lumbar support pillows will fit differently on people of different sizes, according to Conrad. “If your mid back is sore or arthritic, then a taller back support that can reach the mid and low back may be better suited for you,” he says. “If you are five feet tall, a back support designed for a person [who is] 6 feet 5 inches tall obviously won’t be good for you.”

It’s important to always consult your doctor if you’re experiencing severe back pain. A lumbar support pillow helps alleviate some pain in the lower back while sitting throughout the day, but it isn’t considered a replacement for or an alternative to professional medical care. If your doctor recommends getting a pillow to support your lower back, consider looking into one of the options mentioned above.

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Cory Fernandez is a commerce editor at NBC Select, who writes about topics such as food, kitchen, home, cleaning and lifestyle content. For this story, Fernandez spoke with two chiropractors with experience in treating various conditions related to the spine.