Buying The Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain

By Wendy Innes. May 7th 2016

A good night's sleep is essential for good health and a positive mood. However, lower back pain affects 31 million people each year, according to the American Chiropractic Association, and that can rob anyone of the rest they need. Below is some helpful information about choosing the right mattress for those who suffer from lower back pain.

Knowing When It's Time to Buy a New Mattress?

Quality mattresses can be expensive and everyone wants to get as much mileage out of one as possible before forking over a fortune for a new one. So how can you tell when your thriftiness is causing you lower back pain?

If the mattress is sagging that is a pretty good indication that it's time for a new one. The old trick of putting a board under the mattress might work for a little while, but the mattress will eventually need to be replaced.

Another indication that it's time for a new mattress is squeaking. If the springs in the mattress or the foundation are squeaking, it means that they have come loose and are not supporting the body properly. So remember:

  • Sagging means it's time to get a new mattress. A board won't do the trick.
  • Squeaking means that the springs have lost their supportiveness.

Materials and Construction

Mattresses come in a variety of materials, from the classic inner spring to memory foam. When selecting a mattress, it really all comes down to individual comfort and preference since there really is no one specific mattress that is right for everyone.

  • The inner spring mattress relies on hundreds of wire coil springs to provide support. The springs are then covered in foam and fabric and they vary in firmness.
  • Mattresses also come in solid foam. This is most often seen on platform beds and futons. These mattresses are typically quite firm, but they can wear out very quickly. As a person sleeps, they tend to compress and wear down.
  • Memory foam has become quite popular in recent years, now that the price has come down from when it was first introduced. Memory foam offers fairly firm support that contours to the shape of the body and it doesn't transfer motion to a sleeping partner.
  • Air core mattresses that adjust with a remote control are quite popular as well, though significantly more expensive. The neat thing is that each side can be adjusted to suit individual needs.

Several different types of mattresses are available in a bed that adjusts to different positions. This is great for those that have low back problems. Sleeping with the knees bent slightly takes pressure off the back and can help relieve the pain. These beds are pricey, but depending upon the severity of your lower back pain, it might be worth it.

Waterbeds are typically not recommended for those with low back pain because they don't offer enough support.

According to a study published in The Lancet, experts have discovered that a medium firm mattress seems to be the best for those who suffer from low back pain. In years past, it had been thought that a firm mattress was best, but new evidence suggests that it was simply too hard.

Mattress Care

A mattress should be considered an important investment because it's an investment in the purchaser's health. Because of this a mattress should be cared for properly. Aside from proper cleaning, a mattress should be flipped regularly, about twice per year. If a mattress can't be flipped, it's a poor investment. A mattress needs to be flipped to ensure even wear.

Bed bugs are a problem in many areas of the country, and the world. Depending upon where the consumer resides, it can be a good idea to protect the mattress from bed bugs. There are zip up bags and other devices that are designed to keep the blood sucking parasites out of the mattress. If they do get in, the mattress will need to be thoroughly cleaned, sometimes needing the expertise of an exterminator, and in some cases, disposed of as bio-hazardous waste.

Sleep Position

Perhaps one of the most important factors that can affect back pain is sleep position. Different positions are appropriate for different conditions, but the most common cause of back pain is simply straining the muscles, ligaments and tendons. For lower back pain, the most comfortable sleep position is on the back with knees slightly bent to take pressure off of the back. If you are constantly suffering from lower back pain, consider purchasing an adjustable bed.

Other conditions facilitate different sleeping positions, and a qualified doctor can advise their patient as to the best position. If stomach sleeping is recommended, a firm mattress is usually better than something like a pillow top. Many problems with back pain can be alleviated by sleeping on the side in the fetal position. If this is the recommended position, consumers should look for mattresses that have special zones that minimize pressure points.

When purchasing a mattress, try to avoid going the cheaper route and invest some time and money into finding the best mattress to help prevent or alleviate lower back pain.


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