As we age, our backs increasingly bear more of the everyday strain that we put on our bodies. Even when we sleep, we can put stress on our backs. The right mattress, however, can make all the difference in helping back pain sufferers get a good night’s sleep. Chiropractors and orthopedic doctors agree that a good mattress is a key element in treating back problems. No single mattress is the best choice for everyone, which is why a plethora of options exist.
Mattresses vary in thickness and firmness, and with so many on the market, it can be difficult to choose which one is right for you, especially if you’re taking back pain into consideration. Selecting a mattress should take a lot of research, and no mattress should be bought on impulse.
Not many clinical studies have been conducted on mattresses and back pain, despite the gimmicks that many mattress companies advertise claiming that their mattresses are medically approved. However, in the few that have been conducted, older studies led many orthopedic doctors to believe that the firmer the mattress, the more effectively it would alleviate back pain.
In more recent studies, however, a medium-firm mattress proved most comfortable for those with back pain. Another consideration to keep in mind is that there is no specific mattress that is recommended for back pain. Some mattress brands do tout their ability to relieve back pain, but your choice entirely depends on your own comfort. If you already have a firm mattress and would rather wait before buying a new one, you can add padding to the mattress to decrease its firmness.
Firmness standards in mattresses are not universal. When shopping for a new mattress, it’s advised not to rely on a number to determine whether one will be of ideal firmness for you. To properly choose a mattress, spend at least ten minutes lying down on one that you are considering purchasing. Try all the positions in which you normally sleep so you can assess how comfortable the mattress will be. Always buy from a reputable dealer and ask about a return policy. Some mattress stores will allow you to return a mattress even after several months if the mattress does not give you the comfort you are looking for.
Caring for your mattress will also help in managing back pain. Mattresses should be flipped to the reverse side every few months, and they should be rotated every few months as well so that natural wear over time distributes evenly over the mattress. If you don’t rotate and flip the mattress as recommended, a sagging spot can appear in the center, decreasing the effectiveness of the mattress.
Overall, medium-firm mattresses are currently the most popular choice of orthopedic doctors and patients alike. Other approaches to managing back pain include weight control, proper posture, and stress management. However, choosing the right mattress is key since most people spend about a third of every day in bed, and a mattress is an investment that most use for several years at a time.
Written By: Updated: June 29,2011