Guide to Choosing the Best Mattress for Back Pain Sufferers
A good night's sleep is priceless. When you're rested, you face the day with alertness and energy. You get more accomplished at work, and at home you can fully enjoy time with friends and family. However, people with chronic back pain know that it's a challenge to get a solid eight hours of shut-eye. The right mattress, along with minor changes in sleeping position and pillows, can make a big difference in the quality of your rest, but how do you choose the best mattress for chronic back pain? Read our guide to learn more about the causes of back pain and how to find the best mattress for you.
What Causes Back Pain
Trauma and AccidentsA wide variety of one-time, unexpected injuries can throw your back out of commission. This may include:
- car and workplace accidents
- slips and falls
- lifting something heavy with poor form
- a compression fracture, often found in people with degenerative disc disease
Repetitive Stress Injuries and Habitual Poor AlignmentOver time, even a strong back and healthy spine can develop pain after repeated poor habits. Pain can occur if you:
- perform the same movement for hours at a time at your workplace
- sit for long periods without a break to stretch, especially if you sit with poor posture
- wear high heels, a badly balanced backpack, or a heavy purse or messenger bag
- sleep on a low-quality, poorly designed, or broken down mattress that is overdue to be replaced
The spine has to bear the weight of your skeleton and protect the nerves of your spinal cord. That makes it vulnerable to a number of common medical conditions, detailed below. Your mattress choice can greatly relieve the pain these conditions bring.
What is the Best Mattress for You?According to WebMD, it should strike a balance between soft comfort and healthy levels of support. As a general rule of thumb:
- Side sleepers could rest better on a softer to medium mattress.
- Back sleepers may prefer the support offered by a medium to firm mattress.
- Stomach sleepers will be somewhere in the middle.
However, people with a condition that triggers back pain have some additional factors to consider. The best mattress for back pain sufferers will depend on what diagnosis they have that is causing their discomfort.
Choosing the Best Mattress for Chronic Back Pain: The Diagnosis is Key
When you have chronic back pain, your first stop should be your doctor's office to determine a diagnosis. Your physician can get to the root of the problem and help advise you on what's next and provide you specific information about your condition that you can use to help pick a mattress. Finding the right mattress for you depends on your individual sleeping needs from your back pain diagnosis. Here are some general tips from experts by back pain diagnosis:
Arthritis pain can worsen with prolonged pressure. This includes the forces of lying in bed for hours at a time. For that reason, it's vital to look for a mattress that conforms to the body shape. Memory foam of medium firmness provides gentle, even support along the back instead of creating one or two very painful points of intense pressure.
People with scoliosis have a dilemma. They need a mattress that is firm enough to press against and straighten out their spine's curve, giving their muscles and tendons a chance to rest. However, it must also conform to other parts of the body such as the shoulders and hips. The physical qualities of a medium to firm memory foam mattress are ideal for people with scoliosis.
Herniated Discs and Degenerative Disc Disease
Spring mattresses can apply uneven forces to the vulnerable discs along the spine. They can also degrade over time as springs stiffen and loosen at random, creating an irregular surface that can trigger pain. Memory foam on the firmer end of the scale provides just enough support to help the body recover at night.
Bursitis and Hip Pain
Many people sleep on their sides. Unfortunately, this can exacerbate hip pain. A too-firm mattress, particularly with coil springs, will place unforgiving pressure on the hip bones. The nerves in that region can get caught in the middle, adding to discomfort. However, a softer memory foam mattress that conforms to the body will evenly distribute pressure.
The spine and back work hard during the day to support and protect the spinal cord nerves, so it's crucial to give the body recovery time on the right surface. A medium to firm memory foam mattress is often recommended. If you prefer to sleep on an adjustable bed, discuss with your mattress sales representative what option will work best with the bedframe.
Are Memory Foam Mattresses Good for Back Pain?
The right mattress can relieve a great deal of discomfort and improve your spine's health by keeping it supported and aligned. That is the advantage of memory foam mattresses. When exposed to the warmth and pressure of a sleeping person, memory foam molds to the shape of your body. The foam is then able to cradle you, evenly supporting your body weight. This leads to you sleeping with your spine in ideal alignment, not sagging or twisted. Conventional mattresses, meanwhile, do not calibrate to your body. They produce equal pressure against every part of you. You may experience issues such as your lower back sagging, unsupported, while your hips and shoulders are pressed too high up. This can exacerbate whatever back pain you already have and add more discomfort the longer you sleep on the inferior mattress.
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