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5 Tips: How to Buy the Best Mattress for Back Pain

Published December 10, 2017
| Written By SpineNation Editorial Staff  
Tags:  Insomnia

When trying to find the best mattress for back pain, you need to be aware of certain guidelines. Obviously, comfort goes before anything and anyone with chronic back pain knows that can be a feat hard to tackle; however, your mattress type matters.

When narrowing down the best mattress, you want to be aware of marketing ploys that claim to be medically approved. We say this because there are limited clinical trials available on mattresses, therefore, companies may oversell their products to get you to buy them.

There are other factors that play a pivotal role in your comfort and pain levels. Using our five tips, you can learn how to purchase the best mattress to help alleviate your back pain.

1. In this Case, New is Better

Researchers at Oklahoma State University conducted a study where they randomly selected 62 back pain patients to test out a wide variety of new mattresses for 28 days. They found that nearly all participants slept better, which held up regardless of which mattress they were granted. There were only a select few who slept on a cheaper mattress and reported lower back pain as compared to those in the medium- and higher-priced mattresses who reported decreased back pain.

The deciding factor seemed to be that the mattresses were new. The researchers observed that the average participants' mattresses were nearly 10 years old.

They concluded that "sleep quality may be dependent on timely replacement of bedding systems." So if you've been resting on the same mattress for 10 years or more, it's definitely time to update. Any new mattress will be better than your old, worn out mattress, but remember that not all mattresses are created equal. You may need to consult with a sleep specialist to find the best mattress for your area of back pain.

2. Take It for a Spin

An increasing number of mattress businesses will allow you to purchase a mattress and test drive it out from one to three months. If you and your back pain needs aren't satisfied, you can send it back for a full refund. If you don't plan on buying your mattress in a store (like the happy couple below), simply opt for a mattress that comes with a money-back guarantee.

Couple testing out mattresses that help with back pain.

Or, get creative. Have a business trip planned where you'll be staying at a hotel? Write down the mattress's model number because chances are you may sleep better there and wake up with less back pain because of their upscale mattresses. Nevertheless, it's all about finding a mattress that will support your spine.

3. Don't Forget about Spinal Alignment

Maintaining proper posture throughout the day is necessary to prevent additional back pain, however, it's also important while sleeping. The muscles and ligaments in your back require relaxation and rest in order to heal as you sleep. Sleeping on a mattress that is either too firm or too soft will not support your cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) spine in the fashion it requires. You want something that is firm enough but not too firm and it's going to differ from patient to patient. If you have wider hips, for example, a somewhat softer mattress may be beneficial. Someone with smaller hips may enjoy a firmer mattress. It's all about personal preference, comfort, and support.

4. Balance is Key

The best mattress for back pain will present superior support for your spine that allows the curves in your spine to remain in alignment, however, it also needs to be comfortable.

This particular mattress provides ideal comfort and support for back pain.

Having proper support will relieve some of your muscle pain, especially if you feel that discomfort first thing in the morning. While not many studies speak about mattresses, we did find one study that proved the best mattress for back pain — for comfort and support — needs is normally a medium-firm mattress.

5. If All Else Fails, Go Medium-Firm 

In another study, researchers bought new mattresses and provided them to roughly 300 patients diagnosed with low back pain. They used "medium-firm" or "firm" mattresses for 90 days. Who felt the most pain relief? The patients in the medium-firm group.

Additionally, you may want to consider purchasing some sort of memory foam mattress (instead of the conventional innerspring mattress). The memory foam contours to your back and body. The only concern is that select memory foam mattresses retain heat due to chemicals within the mattress.

Whether you have back pain or not, you need good, comfortable sleep. Those with a chronic back or spine condition who lack good sleep feel the restlessness of the previous night carry over into the next day. This produces a lack of focus, increased anxiety, and even feelings of depression, all of which may exacerbate your already painful back. Therefore, choosing the best mattress is necessary for your everlasting recovery. Although comfort is not a luxury for the chronic back pain patient, finding your spot will be that much easier with a new mattress.

Updated: March 2, 2020

Information provided within this article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Those seeking specific medical advice should consult his or her doctor or surgeon. If you need to consult with a specialist, you may be able find a health care provider in our Specialist Finder. SpineNation does not endorse treatments, procedures, products or physicians.

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  • Did you know that when it comes to managing sleeping issues and chronic back pain that the type of mattress you rest on matters? It's all about proper spinal alignment and that shortage of support from an old worn out mattress may only be reinforcing your painful symptoms. Do you know the best mattress for back pain? Here's a hint — you're about to find out.