Recently a friend of mine asked me, “Do you know what is the best mattress for back pain?” She was having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep because of sciatica and some back problems.
I figured the firmest mattress (hard mattress) was probably the best but I really didn't know for sure.
To answer her question, I decided to dig into the medical literature to see what was in there about the best mattress for back pain. I went back about 10 years. There aren't a lot of studies on mattresses and back pain. But there's enough information there to make a really good decision.
And not only was I wrong about what I thought was the best mattress for back pain, but so are a heck of a lot of doctors who deal with back pain. Firmer does not mean better for back pain.
In 2003, a study from Spain of 313 adults with chronic low back pain examined the effect of mattresses on their levels of pain while lying in bed...and when getting out of bed.
Some of these people got new firm mattresses to sleep on for 90 days and some got new medium-firm mattresses. None of the participants knew which type of mattress they had received.
After 90 days, a higher percentage of patients sleeping on the medium-firm mattresses reported:
The study states: A mattress of medium firmness improves pain and disability among patients with chronic non-specific low-back pain.
A medium-firm mattress provides good support while distributing pressure points on the body when lying in bed. However, a mattress that is too soft is just as bad for low back pain as a mattress that is too firm.
In a 2005 study, The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association pointed out that in a survey, 76% of orthopedic surgeons recommended firm mattresses. And most health professionals recommend hard or extra firm mattresses.
The problem again is that these types of mattresses decrease the ability of the body to have more contact with the mattress. That means more pressure on the parts of the body that do touch the mattress. This in turn means more pain in bed and getting out of bed.
It's a known fact that low back pain significantly affects sleep quality. A study in 2006 (Journal of Chiropractic Medicine) also looked at sleep quality in relation to medium-firm mattresses.
The study of 30 women and 29 men showed this: For 28 days, subjects slept in their owns beds. Then they slept in beds with new medium-firm mattresses for 28 days.
With this new bedding, there was significant improvement for back pain and stiffness, comfort, and sleep quality.
Is it starting to become clear here what the best mattress for back pain is?
A 2008 study in Applied Ergonomics showed that age of and quality of bedding had a major effect on back pain. People sleeping in new beds had significantly less pain and more comfort than when they were sleeping on their older mattresses.
The average age of the beds people were sleeping on before getting the new mattresses was 9.5 years.
In addition, the study states: It was found that for the cheapest category of beds, lower back pain was significantly more prominent than for the medium and higher priced beds.
So let's wrap up this article on the best mattress for back pain with two final studies I uncovered. Below, we'll also take a look at three top choices for where to get the mattress of your dreams.
The first study was in Spine. One hundred and sixty people were divided into three groups for a one month test of new mattresses. People in group one were given water beds...group two memory foam mattresses...and group three hard mattresses.
People who slept on the water beds and memory foam mattresses had improved back pain symptoms, back function, and sleep quality. Both mattress types were deemed superior to a hard mattress. However, there were no differences observed between the water bed and the memory foam.
Now I don't know about you, but I've slept in a few water beds over the years but never really liked them. I always felt like I was sleeping in a row boat.
A 2010 study showed that replacing patients' beds with new medium-firm mattresses, layered with memory foam and latex, provided significant improvement in both back and shoulder pain.
Check out this chart below and you'll see what the best mattress for back pain is.
As you can see, there is over a 60% drop in back pain and stiffness, resulting in improvement in sleep quality after just one week! And these results continue through week 12.
Researchers also mentioned there was a significant drop in the number of days per week that people were experiencing poor sleep and physical discomfort.
Obviously, then, if your back gives you fits, the best mattress for back pain is one that has memory foam in it. (Or if you love your water bed, by all means stick with it.) The question then is...
Searching around to find a quality mattress is like getting your teeth drilled at the dentist without novocaine.
Yes, it's that painful! So I'm going to save you all that trouble.
I've searched for hours all over the Internet to bring you three excellent choices of mattress companies. (For your convenience, all links below will open a new window.)
Company one, Saatva Inc, sells America's luxury mattresses for a steep discount. Their prices are unbeatable.
You can read two Saatva customer reviews from Saatva customers in the right column of this page up above.This may be the best mattress company on the Internet. Click here to go to the Saatva home page. See why people like these mattresses so much.
Company two, Essentia, is recommended and was featured on Dr. Oz's TV show and Anderson Cooper's TV show. They claim to have the world's only truly natural memory foam mattresses. I must say, these are incredibly pure memory foam mattresses. However, they are expensive.
Company three, the Healthy Back Store, specializes in furniture for people with back issues who are looking for healthy support. They even sell Tempur-Pedic mattresses and pillows.
If you truly want the best mattress for back pain—and want a little more information on each of these three companies—go to my article Best Bed For Back Pain.
Click here to download your FREE special report created by Sleep Passport on How to Buy a Mattress. This 9-page checklist contains the important questions for you to ask—and know the answers to—before buying a mattress.
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To learn more about Saatva, and why their mattresses are so comfortable, simply click the box above on this page called, What is the Best Mattress?