A sleeping positioner orthopedic cervical pillow can also help with pain. How long do you have to use them? Most people start using a cervical pillow after they experience neck pain. This usually lasts anywhere from three to six weeks. It becomes even more important to use the pillow before you suffer from full-blown neck pain. You should continue using the pillow until you are pain-free. After this, you should only use the pillow occasionally to prevent reoccurrence (and for comfort).