Last Updated On August 8th, 2019
Waking up with back pain in the morning is more common than you might think; it’s the single most common complaint of musculoskeletal discomfort. In fact, over 80% of all people will suffer from either upper, middle or lower back pain at least once in their life.
Experts have found that 31 million Americans suffer from backaches at any one time, and 83% of surveyed Britons said they feel stiff or ache when they get up in the morning. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) estimate that between 40 – 60% of the general population has trouble sleeping.
Much of this unnecessary and easily avoided discomfort is due to body aches and pains caused by poor quality, uncomfortable mattresses or pillows, which can keep a person from getting a sound nights sleep.
Our in-depth research into this field has made it possible to compile a detailed buying guide and unbiased reviews to help you along the path to finding the best mattress for back pain relief. If you’re in a hurry check out our quick comparison table below.
Top 10 Best Mattresses For Back Pain Comparison
|Layla Mattress||View Price →|
|Tuft & Needle Mattress||View Price →|
|Live and Sleep Resort Ultra Luxury Gel Memory Foam||View Price →|
|Sleep Innovations Taylor||View Price →|
|Perfect Cloud Elegance Gel-Pro||View Price →|
|Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress||View Price →|
|Classic Brands Cool Gel Ultimate||View Price →|
|DynastyMattress Cool Breeze||View Price →|
|Sleep Innovations Alden||View Price →|
|Snuggle-Pedic Mattress||View Price →|
Causes Of Back Pain
The most common reason that adults miss work or go in to see their doctor is back pain. It is the number one cause of disability in the world, and most people will experience it at least once in their lives. So what causes it, and why is it so common?
Many different things, most of which are treatable without surgery, can cause back pain. One common cause is a strain on muscles or ligaments from repeated lifting of heavy objects over time or one sudden, awkward movement. Other common causes are arthritis, osteoporosis, and skeletal irregularities like scoliosis where your spine curves abnormally and causes sometimes excruciating discomfort.
Bulging or ruptured discs are another common cause of back pain. Discs are cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. Sometimes the material in the disc can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve, causing extreme discomfort. Unfortunately, disc related issues most often have to be fixed with surgery, but your doctor will likely try several things to postpone or prevent surgery if possible.
All of these causes can be dealt with through consultation with your doctor, and by maintaining health in other ways, like getting a good night’s rest. That is why choosing the correct mattress is vital.
For more info, check out this useful animation from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP):
— Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (@thecsp) May 4, 2017
Types Of Back Pain
To better understand what is causing your discomfort, let’s dig a little bit deeper into the individual types of pain you could be experiencing.
Upper Back Pain
The upper back, also called the thoracic spine, is the most resistant to the pain of all the areas of your back, so if you are experiencing discomfort here, it is most likely because of injury or poor-posture over a long period of time.
Fortunately, most of the time pain in the upper back can be healed with self-care techniques like applying ice and heat, changing your posture, and getting rest. If these things do not help, physical therapy, medication, and manual manipulation may be necessary to provide relief.
Lower Back Pain
The lower back also referred to as the lumbar spine, is where most people will experience discomfort. It is a strong area that is used to provide support to the rest of the body and is remarkably flexible, but since it is such a complex structure, it is more susceptible to injury than other areas of the body.
The two main types of lower back pain are mechanical and radicular pain. Mechanical is the most common and is pain from ligaments, joints, or bones in and around the spine. Radicular occurs when the spinal nerve root is inflamed.
Sciatica is the term used to describe the pain that travels from the lower back down the bottom and through the sciatic nerve on the back of the legs. Although we hear this term a lot, it is actually not a medical diagnosis, but a symptom of a deeper problem, typically one that originates in the lumbar or lower back.
Sciatica can cause constant discomfort in one or both sides of the body that feels like burning or tingling. It can also cause weakness or numbness and difficulty moving the legs and feet.
Since sciatica is a symptom of deeper problems, it is used as a starting point to find treatment for the base issue and is most often treated non-invasively. However, ensuring you’re sleeping on the best mattress for sciatica can significantly reduce pain and improve symptoms.
A bulging disc will most often occur in the lumbar area of the spine. To have a bulging disc means that the disc that exists as a form of padding between the vertebrae on your spine has become inflamed, and the soft material inside has been pushed outward and contacted a nerve.
Many people have bulging discs without ever knowing, but when a disc hits the right nerve, the pain can be debilitating. Luckily, this type of soreness is commonly treated without the need for surgery.
Spinal arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause discomfort and swelling in the back and spine and can result in an inability to move freely or live life without soreness. It can also cause numbness in the legs, limiting your mobility.
The lower back is particularly susceptible to arthritis because it is the most mobile area of the back and spine, and also the area of the body that carries the most weight. Arthritis in the spine is most common in older adults and is treatable without surgery, and often without the use of medications.
Other Types Of Pain
Back pain may be the most common pain that prevents you from sleeping well, but your neck, shoulders, hips and other joints may also cause you to have difficulty sleeping or result in the need for a new, more supportive mattress.
Let’s talk about the different types of pain that you may be experiencing:
Pain in the neck is not just a common phrase; it’s a common problem! Neck muscles are easily strained from poor-posture, and it’s more common than ever since we spend so much of our time hunched over computers and workbenches. Of course, neck soreness can also be caused by an injury such as whiplash.
Although some neck pain can be a symptom of a serious problem, most of the time it improves with home treatments like getting a good night’s sleep, stretching, and applying ice or heat. Check out our pillows for neck pain for more info.
There are a lot of causes of shoulder pain, and I mean a lot! However, it is also easy to treat at home in most cases. If your discomfort was sudden and does not cease or improve gradually, you should see a doctor to ensure that you do not have a serious issue like a rotator cuff injury that may require surgery.
Many less-severe things, such as sleeping incorrectly or poor posture, can cause shoulder pain. Finding the right mattress can be a significant benefit to you if you suffer from occasional or chronic soreness in your shoulders.
Pain in your hips is often caused by spinal arthritis or sciatica, but can sometimes be the result of injury or hips slipping out of place in the joint area. Hip pain can also be the result of inflammation of ligaments or tendons near the hip joint.
With all of these causes, it’s not shocking that hip pain is a fairly common problem among adults. Treatment for hip pain depends entirely on the exact reason, but most often it can be treated without surgery.
Many times proper support as you sleep and application of cold or heat can ease minor hip soreness quickly and easily.
Sleep Positions and Back Pain
If you’ve ever talked to a doctor about back pain and sleeping, or if you have a baby, you know the phrase “back is best.” Sleeping on your back is almost always recommended for a healthy back and spine. Doing so with knee support helps to evenly distribute your weight and reduce the number of pressure points that can cause pain or injury.
If sleeping on your back is just not something you’re ready for or not something you can physically do, the next best position is on your side with a firm pillow between the knees for support. If you sleep on your side without the pillow, your spine can be pulled out of position, causing additional pain most commonly in the lower back.
It is also essential to ensure you have a good pillow for side sleeping so that your neck and head are appropriately supported.
Finally, for those suffering from herniated, ruptured, or bulging discs, the best sleep position is the fetal position. Lying curled up like this with the knees tucked into the chest reduces spinal bending and can help to open up joints. To adopt this position, ensure that you have a supportive pillow under the neck and head, and that you pull your legs in only to the point where the back is straight, or nearly straight.
What Is The Best Choice for Back Pain?
There are a number of factors to consider when seeking out a mattress for back problems. Aside from the material (which we discuss below), the level of firmness that your mattress offers is extremely important to your back’s health too. Let’s look at the different levels of firmness you can find in mattresses and who might benefit from them.
Firmer mattresses have long been the doctor-recommended way to go to eliminate back pain and help to keep backs strong and healthy so discomfort doesn’t occur. However, some studies are now showing that firm mattresses aren’t always best mattress for back problems.
For one thing, “firm” is a relative term, so not everyone will get the same support from every mattress. So although firm is still likely the best way to go to keep back pain at bay, not all firm mattresses are created equal, and you will need to try a few out to see what’s right for you.
Some doctors recommend using a medium or medium-firm mattress because they allow your body to sink in enough to eliminate pressure points, without letting it sink in so much that your spine twists or bends, causing you more discomfort.
Medium beds are also great for side sleepers for this reason. They can help to keep your back straight without causing you to lose sleep or twist your back out of place.
Doctors almost never recommend soft mattresses, although many people swear by them to get a good night’s sleep. The softer the mattress, the more room for your body to sink more deeply and twist your joints in ways that could cause discomfort.
Soft mattresses are good for stomach sleepers because they don’t put so much pressure on the many individual points that could be injured sleeping that way.
Plush can mean a couple of different things. It can mean that you have an ultra-soft pillow top on your mattress, but the mattress itself is still another level of firmness, or it can mean the whole mattress is the softest on the market. The latter is not a good idea for people suffering from back pain. The former, however, may be a happy medium for those who need the support of a firm mattress, but the cozy comfort of a softer model. If you like the sound of this, some examples of pillow tops can be seen here.
Firm VS Soft
However chronic or severe your symptoms are it’s important to consider your mattress firmness. If your current one is rather soft, you may want to try a firmer option instead. Perhaps it’s too soft or sagging thus creating an uneven surface whilst laying down.
Likewise, if your mattress is too firm you may be better off with a softer one; perhaps the firmness is too much pressure on the body which is enhancing the pain (common in symptoms of fibromyalgia).
There is no definitive answer as to firm or soft for pain relief as there are varying degrees of back issues and every person’s requirement is different.
Maximum Spinal Support
A backache is most common in the lower area, although it can be felt anywhere along your spine, from your neck down to your hips. It’s essential that when lying down your body lays flat with continuous support and full contact with the surface in a uniform manner, distributing the body weight to alleviate stress on the spine and promote good back health in general.
This will help to maintain proper posture and ensure the spine stays straight so that your neck, shoulders, lower, middle and upper back stay healthy. If there are gaps between your body and the surface of the top cover, you’re not getting the full support that you need and will eventually end up with joint soreness in the morning.
Flipping and Rotating
Flipping and rotating can be a common preventative short-term relief for back pain and problems. Every so often it’s wise to either rotate your mattress clockwise (by moving the head to the foot) or flip it upside down. This is so it maintains comfort and support, wears evenly, and doesn’t sag into one particular corner.
A sagging mattress causes the body to sink into the mattress unevenly and can irritate the spinal joints and aggravate sciatica. Please note that not all mattresses are compatible for flipping so check your supplied documentation from the manufacturer.
There is no standard lifespan for a mattress; it all depends on the kind of usage it gets. However, if you’re waking up with painful symptoms, it may be time for a new mattress. For best results to maintain a healthy spine and posture, our research suggests that most mattresses should be replaced approximately 7-10 years after purchase, or even sooner if they seem less comfortable than when new.
A latex mattress is often considered great for back pain because of its effective springy action which can provide relief throughout the night and into the morning. They rate well among people with back problems and as you can see from the comparison table above we also list a latex mattress.
At least 33% of owners claim that their all-latex option provides some type of relief in various parts of the body including the neck, shoulders, and hips.
The premium, spongy material gently pushes into the body which instantly maximizes natural body contouring and ensures full body contact, which in turn provides great pressure point relief and spinal alignment.
Overall this is a highly recommended option for anyone who has symptoms of back pain in the morning or generally requires an orthopedic mattress.
Our research shows that people with back problems often tend to be highly satisfied with a memory foam mattress. In fact, studies show that large numbers of people who own one experience some sort of joint pain relief. This satisfaction arises due to the unique properties and behavior of memory foam.
Returning to the point of firm vs. soft, one of the most important features to look out for is deciding the density of the foam. Generally, high-density (5 lbs+) provides utmost support and optimal spinal alignment; medium density (4 lbs) offers less contouring of the body; and low-density (2 – 3 lbs) is considered to provide less effective relief of the former two.
There are other orthopedic mattresses which offer full body support, such as the pocket spring (also known as a pocketed coil). These mattresses are made of 1000’s of unique individual springs pocketed inside fabric. Each spring acts independently to allow the contours of the body to be gently supported.
As a general rule, 1000-2000 springs are fine but consider 2000+ if you weigh more than 420 lbs. In our opinion, a pocket spring can be good for orthopedic support and treatment, however, these cannot rival the superiority of memory foam or latex.
Top 10 Mattresses for Back Problems Reviewed
Of all the mattresses we have reviewed, this is most probably the highest rated and best mattress for back pain, not only within our team but also among verified buyers. The 10.5″ thick naturally hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant and antimicrobial copper infused memory foam mattress is flippable, meaning if it’s too hard on the firm side, flip it over and use the softer medium side. Flippable mattresses are becoming increasingly rare nowadays, especially in memory foam variants, so this is a big bonus. Also, the dual firmness is almost as though you get two mattresses for the price of one.
Considering that the key to an exceptional orthopedic mattress lies in its firmness and that each level of pain is unique to each sleeper, we cannot think of a better product for people who suffer from chronic pain.
Of the top 10 back pain mattress reviews listed here, the Layla comes mighty close to topping the list in 2019. As a nice bonus, it also comes with a 120-night trial, free returns, and a lifetime warranty.
Tuft and Needle
This 10″ thick mattress is a relatively new product on the market and comes from a top-rated company that has been causing quite some hype in recent times. It comes as a bed-in-a-box, which is the newest craze for inexpensive mattresses on the market.
Tuft and Needle’s polyurethane foam mattresses are highly sought after but come at a fraction of the cost of other similar mattresses in terms of popularity and quality materials. In the case of this product, it has been continually crowned the best mattress for lower back pain due to it’s not too firm and not too soft trademark comfort level.
The high tech new foam used in Tuft and Needle’s mattresses provides enough support to stop sagging and alleviate pressure points for all sleeping positions, but it does so without being too firm which can lead to even more soreness and pressure, especially on bulging discs. If you’re after a no-frills experience on a budget, this is indeed one to watch out for in 2019. Click here for our full review of the Tuft and Needle Original, or alternatively, read our Tuft and Needle Mint review for an insight into the latest mattress in their lineup.
Live and Sleep Resort Ultra Luxury Gel
When it comes to our short list, the Live and Sleep Resort Ultra is toward the top. It is a great all around mattress to consider because it’s a safe bet no matter your weight or preferred sleeping position.
Whether you have lower back problems or suffer from shoulder, neck or hip issues, this medium firm choice will give you a grand, balanced feel that works very well to support solid posture while also filling in the gaps where gravity can take its toll.
A medium firm is supposed to be the best for your back whether or not you are already dealing with discomfort, so this is definitely a mattress to keep in mind.
In simple terms, the overall height of 12″ consists of three cradling layers of various tailored foam types; 2.5″ traditional visco, above a 1″ gel layer, both resting on 8.5″ of high-density base foam.
Also, if compatibility with an adjustable bed is a requirement, then there is no need to look any further, this mattress will work just fine. Even so, it will still work with standard box springs, metal platforms, and almost any other bed type. Backed by a 20-year warranty, the Resort Ultra Luxury really is a great deal.
Sleep Innovations Taylor
Another great addition from the popular Sleep Innovations brand is the Taylor mattress. Unlike the Alden, which is on the slightly softer side, the Sleep Innovations Taylor comes in medium firm, the best overall level of firmness for your back as recommended by doctors.
Medium firm mattresses are perfect for all sleeping positions, so if you’re uncomfortable lying on your back, switching to a side or stomach sleeping position will not affect the support you are getting from this bed. It will still provide all the cradling and enhanced support that your spine needs to alleviate or prevent problems.
The Taylor consists of three unique layers designed especially to maintain an optimal body temperature throughout the night. The memory foam stays cool thanks to the SureTemp top layer and breezy middle layer, which helps to maintain your core temperature even if you toss and turn, or if your partner’s body heat would usually make the bed unbearably warm.
This model is made in the USA and comes with a 20-year warranty and a lightweight, washable cover to help keep your mattress clean. So rest assured you’ll get a great product with a great company name behind it.
Perfect Cloud Elegance Gel-Pro
After years of sleep research and hundreds of reviews, we still have to give credit to the Perfect Cloud Elegance Gel-Pro 12″ for being top of the line. Whenever you read reviews of this beauty, it’ll appear as one of the top rated in its class.
The stretch knit cover features a Mesh Gusset Air-Transfer Technology, which regulates humidity and heat, providing a cool, silky sleep surface. Three unique comfort layers offer unbeatable pressure point relief and deep contouring, while the 7.5″ core provides durable full-body support.
This one is definitely supportive and firm, yet it feels plush and soft, and it expertly moulds to the contours of your body for ultimate comfort. There are no pressure points to be felt as you snooze on this mattress, and you won’t sink into it, which means it’s a good choice for those who suffer from sciatic nerve pain, fibromyalgia, and other joint related issues.
The Perfect Cloud Elegance is currently only available in Full, Queen, King and California King, so size will be the only issue you might encounter with this product. Overall it is an exceptional, high-quality choice that compares well to larger, expensive brands but at half the price.
Zinus Green Tea
This plant-based design from Zinus combines a mixture of Green Tea extract and natural Castor Seed Oil to ensure your mattress looks and feels fresh for years to come. It provides spectacular comfort and pressure relieving support along with its durability and odour and bacteria resistance.
A multi-layered design with various types and thicknesses of CertiPUR US Certified memory foam combines plush comfort and incredibly supportive firmness and density that has been tested successfully against various back issues to ensure ultimate comfort and a good night’s rest. The Queen size is 12 inches thick, but this product is also available in the other various sizes and dimensions to best fit your needs.
This mattress comes with a 10-year warranty for your protection. The convenient bed-in-a-box design allows the Zinus Green Tea to come vacuum rolled straight to your door. Because of the way it is shipped, you cannot count on sleeping on it the night it arrives. The company instructs that it can take up to a week for the bed to fully decompress from its trip to your home.
Classic Brands Cool Gel Ultimate
The Classic Brands Cool Gel Ultimate is an excellent, top rated mattress that rivals the best on the market. It belongs to a brand name that is well known for creating nothing less than the highest quality goods.
The mattress consists of premium pressure relieving CertiPUR-US certified memory foam, and high-density aerated cool gel foam. This blend works very well to support the spine and joint comfort while providing ultimate pressure point relief.
Whether you’re looking for support for your shoulders, lower back, or anything in between, the medium-plush feel with firm support means that your body will always be supported in all the right places. The aerated cool gel also helps to regulate body temperature as you sleep to improve your rest regardless of your sleeping position.
It’s worth noting that this is also what’s known as an adjustable mattress, which means it is compatible with electric adjustable beds. Combine this fact with the inclusion of two bonus shredded memory foam pillows, and you get a versatile product that is top notch for all-round relief. The Cool Gel Ultimate mattress is a great deal, and one of the best products money can buy.
DynastyMattress Cool Breeze
A newly designed product that boasts a whopping four layers of gel memory format a bargain price is the DynastyMattress Cool Breeze. The concept behind this design is to ensure the layers do not react adversely to body temperature like some other similar products because these reactions can reduce responsiveness and firmness retention.
The 3″ top layer of cool gel foam rests above the two airflow layers, which have been separated to ensure if one layer heats up, that the other layer can cool it off. This innovation allows the mattress to dissipate heat and help maintain the medium firm support while effectively maintaining core body temperature.
The memory foam core on this mattress contours to your body shape, which is perfect for individuals who suffer from sciatica, inflamed spinal tissues, or hip and joint discomfort.
As a bonus, this mattress comes with two free gel memory foam pillows, so the support doesn’t have to stop at your mattress. Use the pillows for great neck and head comfort, or between your knees if you are a side sleeper.
Sleep Innovations Alden
Not everyone who has back pain prefers a firm mattress, and for those who don’t, the Sleep Innovations Alden is for you. This mattress has more of a medium soft feel and is particularly good for side sleepers. Being medium soft doesn’t mean there is sagging or too much bend in the most important places, though. That is cleverly taken care of by the impressive three-tier design.
The luxurious top layer of visco elastic memory foam is followed by an airy middle layer which both rest upon the highly resilient and supportive base layer.
Sleeping on your side is fine if there is adequate support in the form of body-to-surface contact. With the Alden, the conforming and speedy response from traditional memory foam works to support your body for those who suffer from back problems or who still love sleeping on their sides.
Like its brother, Taylor, which we discussed above, the Alden mattress by Sleep Innovations is made in the USA and comes with a 20-year limited warranty. Sleep Innovations is a company that stands behind their products, so you can feel at ease when you purchase this product.
This is yet another top rated mattress from a leading manufacturer. The queen size we are reviewing here is 10″ thick, created by three inches of high-density memory foam on top of a seven-inch base layer made from ultra-resilient support foam.
This is a mid-priced product could easily be placed in the ring with the most expensive top-end mattresses and hold its own.
This mattress is compatible with adjustable beds, which makes it even more perfect for individuals suffering from back, neck, or joint pain. It has a zip off, breathable cover to ensure a clean and protected bed for years to come.
The Snuggle-Pedic ensures that the weight of your whole body is evenly distributed, eliminating the pressure points that cause stiffening and soreness in the morning. The Alden’s naturally anti-microbial and hypoallergenic viscoelastic foam helps promote healthy blood circulation and nutrient distribution, which is key in pain relief.
When it comes to upper, middle or lower back problems, this is a great option to consider. It comes with a 20-year warranty and a very lengthy four-month sleep trial.
While there is no single best mattress for back pain or one for those with troublesome joints or hips, there are ones that do the job better than others. Even if we could spend another year researching into all the different products on the market, their key features, studying patients and their requirements, we would probably still draw the same conclusion.
Every patient is different, some experience chronic and severe back pain while others can relieve it with simple exercises. What we do know for sure is that symptoms that appear in the morning are because you’re sleeping on a bad bed and its time to change.
So with that being said, if we had to pick one mattress as the number one choice for back pain it would have to be the Layla Mattress.
Providing posture, support and pressure point relief, Layla’s copper infused foam allows for impressive airflow and dissipates heat faster.
Temperature-neutral properties keep firmness consistent regardless of room temperature and allow the surface to respond rapidly to movement, preventing sleepers from feeling “trapped” or “stuck” which are common complaints in reviews of owners of budget brands.
If you want a healthy nights sleep without waking up to aches and pains, then this is the one for you.