Best Mattress For Back Pain 2020: The Top 10 Compared

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Back pain is the single most common complaint of musculoskeletal discomfort. Over 80% of people will suffer from back pain at least once in their life. If you’re one of them, getting yourself the best mattress for back pain is a must.

Poor quality, unsupportive mattresses are a leading cause of back pain. When you spend so much of your life lying down without adequate spinal support, it should come as no surprise that back pain rears its ugly head. Even if your back pain is the result of a long-term condition or injury – using the right mattress will help you to get a good night’s rest without aggravating the problem further.

If you’re not sure what type of mattress is best for back pain, don’t worry. In this article, we bring you our top 10 best mattresses for back pain and in-depth buying guide. Hence, you can sleep easy while taking care of your spine.

If you’re in a hurry, check out our quick comparison table below.

Top 10 Best Mattress For Back Pain Comparisons

Image Product Features
LaylaLayla MattressEditor's Pick
  • Thickness: 10.5"
  • Type: Copper Memory Foam
  • Firmness: Soft Or Firm
View Price →
SaatvaSaatva
  • Thickness: 14.5"
  • Type: Innerspring
  • Firmness: Soft, Medium, & Firm
View Price →
tuft and needleTuft & Needle Mattress
  • Thickness: 10"
  • Type: Adaptive Memory Foam
  • Firmness: Firm
View Price →
Helix MattressHelix
  • Thickness: 12"
  • Type: Hybrid
  • Firmness: Firm
View Price →
BearBear Mattress
  • Thickness: 10"
  • Type: Gel Memory Foam
  • Firmness: Medium-Firm
View Price →
perfect cloudPerfect Cloud Elegance Gel-Pro
  • Thickness: 12"
  • Type: Gel Memory Foam
View Price →
zinus green teaZinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress
  • Thickness: 12"
  • Type: Green Tea Memory Foam
View Price →
classic brandsClassic Brands Cool Gel Ultimate
  • Thickness: 14"
  • Type: Gel Memory Foam
View Price →
dynasty cool breezeDynastyMattress Cool Breeze
  • Thickness: 12"
  • Type: Gel Memory Foam
View Price →
DreamcloudDreamcloud
  • Thickness: 14"
  • Type: Hybrid
View Price →

Top 10 Mattresses For Back Problems Reviewed

1. Layla Sleep (Editor’s Choice)

Layla Sleep

Of all the mattresses we have reviewed, we found this one to be the highest-rated and overall best mattress for back pain, not only within our team but also among verified buyers.

This thick, naturally hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant memory foam mattress is flippable. Meaning, if it’s too hard on the firm side, simply flip it over and use the softer medium side instead. Perfect for side sleepers, the soft side of this mattress features a plush surface that comfortably hugs your contours while supporting troublesome pressure points.

On the other hand, if you prefer to sleep on your back or stomach, then the firm side is your best bet. As it offers increased levels of support, this side of the mattress prevents you from sinking too deeply into its surface. Thus, your body will maintain proper alignment throughout the night.

The reason the Layla Sleep mattress is so effective for back pain lies in its construction. It uses copper gel-infused memory foam, which is more responsive than standard memory foam. The copper gel recognizes changes in pressure and adjusts its firming response accordingly. Thus, you will feel supported, yet comfortable – even if you change your sleep position frequently. This mattress is ideal if your back pain prevents you from staying in one position for too long.

The copper-infused memory foam offers other benefits, too. Because copper is highly heat-conductive, it gently draws heat away from your body, thus helping you to stay cool on hot summer nights. Furthermore, it has natural antimicrobial properties, so you can rest assured that your Layla mattress will stay fresh and odor-free. The mattress cover can be unzipped for washing if you wish, but keep in mind that it’s dry clean only.

If you share your bed with a restless partner, you’ll be well aware of how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep – especially when suffering from back pain. Perfect for light sleepers, the foam layers in the Layla mattress are also designed to reduce motion transfer. Hence, no matter how much they toss and turn, you’ll be able to sleep undisturbed.

Unfortunately, at 10.5-inch thick, the Layla mattress is unsuitable for heavier sleepers who weigh more than 16 stone. This is because the foam layers are likely to become too compressed, and the support will be lost. Therefore, if you’re looking for the best back pain mattress for heavier sleepers, check out our recommendation below.

All in all, the Layla mattress is a fantastic choice if chronic back pain prevents you from drifting off. With its flippable design, copper-infused foam, and reduced motion transfer, this mattress is our top pick for a restful night’s sleep. It also comes with a 120-night trial period, free returns, and a lifetime warranty for peace of mind.

Pros
  • Flippable design offers a choice of firm or soft surface.
  • Copper-infused cooling memory foam for enhanced back support and freshness
  • Removable cover for washing
  • Motion transfer control prevents disturbances
  • 120-night trial period and lifetime warranty
Cons
  • The cover is dry clean only
  • 10.5” thickness isn’t great for those over 16 stone
  • Some users may dislike the sensation of sinking into a foam mattress

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2. Saatva Classic (Firm Choice)

Saatva mattress

If you’re looking for the best mattress for back support, the Saatva firm mattress is our top pick.

It is constructed from multiple layers of pillow-top, various tailored spring types, and pocket coils. Whether you have lower back pain or suffer from shoulder, neck, or hip issues, this luxurious mattress will give you a grand, balanced feel that supports solid posture while also filling in the gaps where gravity can take its toll.

The plush Euro pillow-top is chiropractor-recommended. It cushions and contours to your body. Additionally, the mattress cradles your spine and prevents painful pressure points at the hips and shoulders. Likewise, its special ‘Lumbar Zone’ spring technology uses a cleverly positioned support wire to keep this vulnerable area of the back correctly aligned during the night.

If you struggle to sleep in warm weather, this firm mattress will also keep you cool – thanks to its organic cotton cover. Treated with a natural antimicrobial for freshness and hygiene, this highly-breathable cover promotes airflow. Hence, you won’t have to lay awake on humid nights ever again.

The Saatva firm mattress comes with a choice of either 11.5-inch or 14.5-inch height. It is fully compatible with adjustable beds, standard box springs, metal platforms, and almost any other bed type. Thus, you’re sure to find the perfect match for you.

While this innerspring mattress is a great choice for bad backs, it does have a few downsides. The 120-night sleep trial is generous, but should you wish to send it back during this time, you’ll have to pay a hefty $99 return fee. As it’s a sprung mattress, the motion isolation is also rather poor. Moreover, some heavier users have complained that the pillow-top is prone to sagging.

That said, if you’re seeking a very firm, supportive mattress for chronic back pain relief that will keep you perfectly aligned and comfortably cool, we think the Saatva mattress is the one to go for. Should you experience any issues, it comes with a 15-year warranty and 24/7 customer support for complete peace of mind.

Pros
  • Recommended by chiropractors
  • Lumbar Zone technology ensures correct alignment of the spine
  • The Breathable organic cotton cover keeps you cool
  • The Euro pillow-top cushions and contours to your body
  • Compatible with adjustable beds
Cons
  • $99 return fee during the trial period
  • Motion isolation is fairly poor
  • Euro top is prone to sagging when used by heavier sleepers

Check Latest Price →


3. Tuft and Needle (Best Memory Foam)

tuft and needle

Our pick for the best memory foam mattress is the Tuft and Needle Original.

This 10-inch medium-firm mattress is highly-affordable and uses two-layers of high-tech T&N Adaptive® foam to provide back pain support where you need it most, without aggravating vulnerable pressure points.

Unlike some memory foam mattresses, which can restrict movement and harbor heat, the ‘open-cell’ foam structure is breathable and flexible. Thus, you can move around with ease and stay comfortably cool on hot nights. Motion control is also good, which makes this mattress a great buy if you or your partner is a restless sleeper.

Perfect for those who like to switch up during the night, the Tuft and Needle mattress provides good levels of support for any sleep position. However, some side sleepers have complained that it’s a little too firm for their liking. It should also be noted that due to the matress’s 10-inch thickness, the Tuft and Needle mattress is unsuitable for users who weigh 14 stone or above.

This mattress is compatible with all bed frames, from an adjustable bed to a box spring base. Hence, you won’t have to worry about whether or not it will fit with your current setup. However, if you often find yourself sleeping close to the edge of the mattress, you should be aware that this model lacks the edge support often seen in sprung mattresses.

Affordable, highly-supportive, breathable, and comfortable, the Tuft and Needle memory foam bed is clearly a great choice if you struggle to sleep with back pain. You can always take advantage of the 100-night sleep trial to try it out first. and if you like it, its  10-year limited warranty means you can feel confident that it will last you for years to come.

Pros
  • Uses two-layers of high-tech T&N Adaptive® foam for optimum back support
  • Gentle on your pressure points
  • Effective motion control
  • Breathable and flexible
  • Compatible with all bed frames
Cons
  • Side sleepers may feel this mattress is a little too firm
  • Lacks edge support
  • Not suitable for sleepers over 14 stone

Check Latest Price →


4. Helix Sleep Firm (Best Value)

helix mattress

If you’re looking for a firm mattress for back pain that won’t break the bank, the Helix firm mattress is our favorite pick.

Made up of a soft-touch cover, two layers of gel-infused memory foam, individually wrapped coils, and a dense foam base layer – this mattress is available in two versions to suit your preferred sleeping style: “Twilight” or “Dawn”.

The “Twilight” mattress is best for side sleepers, while the “Dawn” version is better suited to back and stomach sleepers. Each mattress offers the same level of firmness and overall features, but the top and middle foam layers are optimized to give the best back and spine support based on your sleep position. This ensures you’ll be as comfortable as possible and will help you to manage your back pain more effectively.

The memory foam layers are well-designed and perfect for improving sleep quality for those with chronic back pain. Unlike softer memory foams, when you lie on a Helix mattress, you don’t sink down into the bottom. Instead, it feels solid and supportive beneath you, cradling your body, gently cushioning troublesome pressure points to relieve pain, and allow you to drift off to sleep.

You won’t need to worry about getting all hot and sweaty, either. The Helix hybrid mattress features a breathable cover with a specially-adapted soft-touch design to improve airflow. This will keep you cool and comfortable during the night. If you often lie close to the edge, the reinforced perimeter reduces your risk of falling out of bed.

As much as we love the Helix firm mattresses, every product has its downsides. Many users have complained about an unpleasant off-gassing smell for the first couple of days after opening. However, this is common to all memory foam mattresses and should dissipate fairly rapidly with adequate airing.

Furthermore, the level of firmness may be too much for some people, especially if you have a slight build. This is because both the Twilight and the Dawn versions are highly supportive. Therefore, these may not offer enough ‘give’ to cushion very lightweight individuals.

In the same vein, if you like the traditional feel of sinking into memory foam and feeling like you’re receiving a hug – this mattress is not for you. But if you’re looking for the best firm mattress for back pain that offers strong support and great pressure relief, the Helix is a fantastic choice.

What’s more, the Helix mattress comes with a 100-night trial and 10-year warranty.

Pros
  • Choice of two versions optimized for your preferred sleeping position
  • High level of firmness provides great support for back pain relief
  • Cushions pressure points to relieve aches and pains
  • The breathable, soft-touch cover keeps you cool
  • Reinforced perimeter for enhanced edge support
Cons
  • Not suitable for people who like to sink into a memory foam mattress
  • May be too firm for lightweight individuals
  • Off-gassing smell lingers after opening

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5. Bear (Best For Athletes)

Bear Mattress

If you frequently suffer from exercise-related back pain or muscular aches, the Bear Mattress is a great option.

This top-rated back pain mattress from leading company Bear is 10 inches thick and constructed from three layers of spine-supporting foam with a special Celliant® Cover (more on that later).

Each layer has different properties to help relieve aches and pains while you sleep. The top layer is Cooling Graphite-Gel memory foam that can reduce body heat build-up and maintain a comfortable temperature. Next, a layer of Responsive Transition Foam offers pressure relief with balanced support for proper spinal alignment. Whereas, the base layer is made from high-density, ultra-resilient support foam for ultimate durability.

These multiple layers work together to mold and adapt to your body shape, regardless of your sleeping position. So, if you tend to move around in your sleep, this mattress will keep up with you, providing pressure relief for your back, hips, knees, and shoulders all night long. The matress’s open-cell foam construction ensures effective airflow even when you’re still. Hence, you won’t wake up from a deep slumber all sweaty.

While this memory foam mattress is undoubtedly a great option for anyone who suffers from back pain, injury-prone athletes stand to benefit the most. This is due to the Bear Mattress’s unique cover, woven with what they call ‘Celliant’s® Infrared Yarn Technology’.

Celliant® uses fibers infused with minerals and special materials that promote improved circulation and muscle recovery while you sleep. It absorbs your body heat and converts it into infrared light, before directing it back into your tissues. This technology has been clinically proven to encourage better circulation, faster muscle recovery, an overall feeling of wellbeing, and increased energy levels. These benefits can be enjoyed even if you cover the mattress with a protector sheet and go to bed fully clothed.

Bear claims that its Celliant® technology never wears out, nor will it be reduced if you remove and wash the cover. Therefore, it’s clear to see that this mattress is a leading choice if you’re an active individual who frequently suffers from back pain or general exercise-related aches and injuries.

The Bear mattress is compatible with adjustable beds, which makes it even more perfect for individuals suffering from back, hip, neck, or joint pain. Furthermore, all its construction materials are naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. Hence, you don’t need to worry about unpleasant odors or allergic reactions.

It is important to note that, while the Bear mattress is made from 100% foam, it doesn’t offer the traditional ‘cradling’ sensation of standard memory foam. Therefore, if you feel more comfortable sinking into a foam mattress for the night, this model may disappoint you.

Additionally, the edge support leaves much to be desired. Thus, if you tend to lie at the edge of the bed, you may feel like you’re at risk of rolling off. You’ll also need a gentle hand when unzipping the cover, as the stitching around the zip is prone to tears.

These minor issues aside, we think the Bear mattress is an effective choice to combat back pain and enjoy a great nights’ sleep. Like other mattresses we have seen, this best mattress for back and hip pain comes with a 10-year warranty and a generous 100-night sleep trial.

Pros
  • Three-layers of memory foam for effective spine and joint support
  • Cooling graphite gel prevents overheating
  • Celliant® technology supports enhanced muscle recovery
  • Compatible with adjustable beds
  • Antimicrobial and hypoallergenic materials
Cons
  • Not suitable for people who prefer the traditional ‘cradling’ sensation of memory foam
  • Very little edge support
  • Stitching around the zip is prone to tears

Check Latest Price →


6. Wink Bed (Best For Heavy People)

Winkbeds mattress

If you’re on the heavier side, the Wink Bed is the perfect option to help you sleep well with back pain.

Designed to provide adequate support for people who weigh 21st or above, this hybrid mattress for back pain offers a blend of comfortable, gel-infused memory foam, and strong coils to maintain proper spinal alignment and ease your discomfort.

Great for any sleeping position, the Wink Bed mattress will support you whether you’re a side sleeper, back sleeper, or stomach sleeper. The lumbar support pad keeps your vulnerable lower back region from sinking into the mattress. Additionally, the eucalyptus-based TENCEL cover and smart ventilation system will wick heat away from the body for a cool night’s sleep.

Heavier sleepers often complain that memory foam mattresses become easily compressed after a few months of use – but that’s not the case with the Wink Bed. As it is designed to support increased weight, this model is resistant to compression and will not sag or become misshapen over time. However, if you share your bed with a lightweight partner, they may find this high-degree of firmness to be uncomfortable.

If you like to sit or sleep close to the edge of the bed, this hybrid mattress has you covered. It comes with trademarked “EXTRA-EDGE™” support. Hence, you’re sure to feel secure and protected against falls. Motion isolation is great, too. Thanks to it’s stabilizing gel foam layer, restless sleepers can toss and turn without disturbing anyone else.

The Wink Bed is clearly a top choice for the best mattress for bad back, but there are a couple of drawbacks to bear in mind. Due to its unique design, this mattress is rather expensive. Furthermore, you must sleep on it for a minimum of 30 nights of the 120-night trial before you’re able to return it.

Pros
  • Provides great back support for people 21 stone and above
  • Suitable for all sleeping positions
  • Gel-infused TENCEL cover keeps you cool
  • Compression-resistant
  • Strong edge support
Cons
  • May feel too firm for lighter sleeping partners
  • Trial includes a mandatory 30-night period
  • Expensive

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7. Loom & Leaf

Loom and Leaf by Saatva

Another great contender for the best bed for back pain is the Loom & Leaf mattress.

Presenting multiple foam layers with a special spinal cooling gel section, the Loom & Leaf mattress is crafted to keep you cool and comfortable while providing excellent back support.

Its organic cotton mattress cover is quilted and breathable, cushioning your spine, and enabling adequate airflow to prevent heat build-up during the night. The combination of contouring memory foam and firm, eco-friendly supportive foam also makes it a top choice for the best mattress for side sleepers with chronic back pain.

As you sleep on your side, the memory foam gently wraps around your hips and shoulders for great pressure relief and spinal alignment. Likewise, the 5lb premium support foam layer prevents you from sinking too deeply into the mattress as you sleep. If you have a heavier build, we recommend opting for the firmest mattress for the best spine support. Lighter sleepers may prefer the ‘relaxed firm’ choice, as this provides a slightly softer upper layer for extra comfort.

Aside from being one of the choices for the best mattress for lower back pain, side-sleeper individuals will appreciate the mattress’s ability to limit motion transfer. The top memory foam layers respond slowly to changes in sleeping preference, thus preventing any movement from causing disturbances. However, if you like to switch up your snoozing position throughout the night, you may find this lack of responsiveness frustrating.

The Loom & Leaf mattress is no doubt one of the best options, but it does come at a price. It’s also worth bearing in mind that, should you wish to send this mattress back during the 120-night trial period, you will have to pay a $99 fee.

Pros
  • Combination of memory foam and support foam to cushion and cradle your body
  • Cooling gel layer prevents overheating
  • Offers great pressure relief to side sleepers
  • Motion isolation is very effective
  • Two firmness choices
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Returns are chargeable
  • Not very responsive to changes in sleep position

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8. The Purple Bed

Purple Mattress Original

Offering a unique solution to chronic back pain, the simply named ‘Purple Mattress’ features a Hyper-Elastic Polymer® grid atop two layers of foam for ultimate support and pressure relief.

The mattress’s grid design is cleverly crafted to flex only beneath your pressure points, while also cradling your back and supporting proper spinal alignment to reduce pain. Therefore, unlike traditional memory foam that ‘wraps around’ the body, the Purple Mattress makes you feel as if you’re floating on its surface.

This is perfect if you prefer the sensation of sleeping on mattresses for back pain, rather than sinking into them. However, if you like the sensation of being ‘hugged’ by your mattress, this model isn’t the best choice for you.

An additional benefit of this grid structure is improved airflow. Due to its design, the Purple Mattress is made up of 2,500 open channels that enable air to move freely and keep you cool while you sleep. The soft-flex mattress cover is also highly breathable. Hence, you’re sure to sleep soundly on hot summer nights.

The Purple Grid has many advantages to help you manage chronic back pain, but the twin layers of foam beneath further enhance its benefits. Made up of a soft, responsive upper layer, and a high-density core one, the Purple Mattress feels comfortable and flexible while providing great support and durability. If you’re an average weight or less, this bed for back pain is ideal for all snoozing positions. However, if you weigh 200 lbs or more, you may find that this mattress sags. Also, the mattress provides inadequate support for stomach sleepers and increases pressure in the shoulders and hips if you’re a side sleeper.

When it comes to motion transfer, the Purple Mattress isolates movement well. Its edge support is also impressive, so you will feel safe and secure, even if you like to sleep towards the brink of the bed.

Overall, if you’re looking for the best mattress for bad backs, the Purple Mattress is a great option for users of average body weight. It comes complete with a 10-year guarantee and 100-night trial, but you’ll need to commit a minimum of 21-nights before you’re able to return it.

Pros
  • Unique Hyper-Elastic Polymer® grid flexes beneath pressure points while supporting proper spinal alignment
  • 2,500 air channels and breathable cover ensure a cool night’s sleep
  • The dual foam layers are responsive and durable
  • Good motion isolation
  • Effective mattress edge support
Cons
  • Heavy side sleepers have complained of increased pressure in shoulders and hips
  • May feel too firm if you prefer a traditional memory foam sensation
  • Heavier stomach sleepers may find this mattress provides inadequate support

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9. Nectar Memory Foam

Nectar mattress

Perhaps one of the most well-known mattresses for back pain, the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress is another great choice.

The Nectar Mattress consists of four layers. A breathable TENCEL™ cover, which is easy to remove and wash, followed by two memory foam comfort layers, a transitional high-density foam layer and a firm, polyfoam base.

The first two foam layers work to keep you cool and well-supported. The top layer is one-inch thick, made from gel-infused memory foam, and is quilted for comfort. The second layer is also made from gel memory foam, but it is much thicker at 3 inches.

Working together, these layers respond to your body weight, conforming to your contours as you sink into the mattress. The final two layers are firmer, ‘propping up’ those above to enhance their support and prevent them from sagging during the night.

If you suffer from chronic back pain, this results in better spinal alignment and reduces pressure points at the shoulders and hips for side sleepers. This helps to alleviate discomfort and enables you to get a good night’s sleep.

In terms of firmness ratings, this mattress for back pain is rated a 6 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the firmest. This middle rating is a great choice for you if you like to sleep in many different positions, but it may feel too firm if you weigh less than 9st. This is because your weight is too light to compress the foam layers for maximum effect.

On the other hand, obese sleepers should avoid this mattress. Users weighing more than 16 stone are likely to compress the foam layers too much, resulting in pressure on the joints, inadequate support, and increased back pain due to misalignment of the vertebral column.

That said, if you’re of average body weight and are looking for the best mattresses for back pain – we recommend you give this one a try. You can try this mattress for a total of 365-nights before committing, and it comes with a lifetime warranty for ultimate peace of mind.

Pros
  • Great for all sleeping positions
  • Maintains proper spinal alignment and reduces pressure on the joints
  • Gel memory foam layer keeps you cool
  • Quilted cover can be removed for easy washing
  • 365-night trial and lifetime warranty
Cons
  • May feel too firm for sleepers who weigh less than 9 stone
  • The relatively deep sinkage may feel claustrophobic if you’re used to innerspring mattresses
  • Heavy users who weigh 16 stone or more may find this mattress inadequate in support

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10. Live & Sleep Resort Ultra Mattress

Live and Sleep Resort Ultra

There are many options when it comes to choosing the best mattress for back pain. The last option on our list is the King size Live & Sleep Resort Ultra Mattress.

It may be one of the lesser-known brands, but this mattress is worth considering if you’re on a tight budget. Offering two-layers of memory foam and a thick polyurethane base, the Live & Sleep Resort Ultra Mattress is rated at medium-firm or a 5-6 on the firmness scale.

The top cover layer is 2.5 inches thick and cushioned for comfort. Beneath this is a layer of 2.5-inch gel-infused memory foam to hug your contours and relieve pressure points while keeping your spinal column well-aligned to reduce back pain. The base layer is the thickest at 8.5-inches. This is made from high-density foam for additional stability and support. It also comes complete with a memory foam pillow for optimum neck support.

Many people avoid foam mattresses for back pain since they believe them to be uncomfortably hot. The Live & Sleep Resort Ultra Mattress claims to use ultra-breathable, self-ventilating and made of porous materials, which will keep you cool throughout the night. This mattress can be used with an adjustable bed, box-spring, and platform bases or placed directly onto hard floors. Therefore, it should fit well with your current setup.

This mattress is marketed as being suitable for all sleeping positions. However, many users have contradicted this, claiming that it feels much firmer than stated. While firm mattresses are usually the best choice for back pain, customers have complained that this product is too hard for side sleepers. It provides little cushioning at the shoulders and hips. Therefore, we would only recommend this mattress if you are a back sleeper or stomach sleeper.

Moreover, this mattress comes with a 30-day trial and 20-year warranty, but there are some issues to be aware of. Several people found that the Live & Sleep mattress became indented with their body shape after a few months of use. In addition, there have also been complaints that it takes up to a week to fully expand after unpacking.

That said, if you’re short on cash, don’t sleep on your side, and need a firm mattress to support your back during the night, this could be a good option for short-term use.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Two-layers of memory foam to support spinal alignment
  • The breathable cover keeps you cool
  • Complimentary memory foam pillow
  • Suitable for use with most bed frames
Cons
  • Durability issues – compression indents occur after a few months
  • Takes up to a week to fully expand
  • Users have complained this mattress is too firm for side sleepers

Check Latest Price →


Causes Of Back Pain

causes of back pain

The most common reason adults miss work or go in to see their doctor is back pain. It is the number one cause of disability and low sleep quality 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?

Back pain can be caused by many different things, and thankfully, most of them are treatable without surgery. A particularly common cause is the strain of muscles or ligaments from the repeated lifting of heavy objects, or a sudden, awkward movement. Other common causes are degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, or skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis (curvature of the spine).

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 pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. Unfortunately, serious disc-related issues often have to be fixed with surgery. However, if your condition is less serious, other treatments such as physiotherapy can help.

If you are unsure of what is causing your back pain, it is very important that you seek medical advice. All of these causes can be dealt with through consultation with your doctor or a qualified medical therapist who specializes in back problems. To prevent back pain, you should take care of your posture, exercise regularly, and ensure you are sleeping on a good-quality, supportive mattress which maintains the proper alignment of the spine.

Types Of Back Pain

Senior woman suffering from backache sitting on bed

The phrase ‘back pain’ can be pretty vague. 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.

1. Upper Back Pain

The upper back, also called the thoracic spine, is the area of your back that is connected to your ribcage. This area tends to be the most resistant to sudden muscular strains. Thus, if you are experiencing discomfort here, it is most likely because of a traumatic 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 rest. If these things do not help, physical therapy, medication, and manual manipulation may be necessary to provide lasting relief.

2. Lower Back Pain

The lower back, which is also referred to as the lumbar spine, is where most people will experience discomfort. It is a robust section that provides support to the rest of the body and is remarkably flexible. However, since it is such a complex structure, it is also more susceptible to injury, sprains, and poor posture than the thoracic spine.

The two main types of lower back pain are mechanical and radicular pain. Mechanical is the most common and refers to pain from ligaments, joints, or bones in and around the spinal column. Radicular occurs when the spinal nerve root is inflamed due to irritation or injury.

3. Sciatica

Sciatica is the term used to describe the pain that travels from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of the legs. Although you may hear this term a lot, it is actually not a medical diagnosis, but a symptom of a deeper problem. Typically, it originates in the lumbar spine located in the 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 in 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. The condition is most often treated with a non-invasive procedure, like physiotherapy.

4. Bulging Discs

A bulging disc will most often occur in the lumbar area of the spine. To have a bulging disc means that the disc (a type of cushioning pad between the vertebrae in your spine) has become inflamed, and the soft material inside has been pushed outward and pressed on a nerve.

Many people have bulging discs without ever knowing, but when a disc hits a nerve, the pain can be debilitating. Bulging or ruptured disks may require surgery to relieve the pain, but in some circumstances, physiotherapy can help.

5. Arthritis

Spinal arthritis is a chronic disease that can cause degeneration, discomfort, and swelling in the spine and can result in an inability to move freely or live life without some degree of pain. 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. Also, it’s the area of the body that carries weight most. Arthritis in the spine is pretty common in older adults and is often treatable without surgery. Although, you will probably need to take a long-term medication to manage the disease.

Other Types Of Pain

good and bad sleep positions

Back pain that originates from the spine may be the most common pain that prevents you from sleeping well. Still, your neck, shoulders, hips, and other joints can be a source of discomfort, too.

Let’s talk about the different types of pain that you may be experiencing:

1. Neck Pain

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 simple home treatments. These may include getting a good night’s sleep, stretching, and applying ice or heat.

2. Shoulder Pain

There are many causes of shoulder pain, and we mean a lot! However, it is also easy to treat at home in most cases. If your discomfort is sudden and does not cease or improve gradually, you should see a doctor and ensure that you do not have a serious issue like a rotator cuff injury that may require surgery.

Many less-severe issues, such as sleeping incorrectly or poor posture, can cause shoulder pain. Finding the right mattress can be of significant benefit to you if you suffer from occasional or chronic soreness in your shoulders.

3. Hip Pain

Pain in your hips is often caused by spinal arthritis or sciatica, but it can sometimes be the result of an injury that causes the hip joint to slip out of place. Hip pain can also be the result of inflammation of ligaments or tendons near the hip joint, rather than the joint itself.

With so many potential causes, it’s no surprise that hip pain is a common problem among adults. The type of treatment required for hip pain depends entirely on the cause. But most often, it can be treated without surgery.

The Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain

If you’ve ever talked to a doctor about back pain and sleeping, or if you have a baby, you’ll know the phrase “back is best.” Sleeping on your back is always recommended for a healthy back and spine. Doing so with additional 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 you can physically do, the next best sleep position is to sleep 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, commonly causing pain 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 one. 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.

Is A Firm Mattress Best For Back Pain?

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 lying down.

Likewise, if your mattress is too firm you may be better off with a softer one. Perhaps the firmness is providing too much pressure on the body, 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. We recommend speaking to your doctor and trying out different mattresses until you find one that is comfortable for you.

How To Choose The Best Mattress For Back Pain

Woman suffering from back pain

There are a number of factors to consider when seeking out the best mattress for back problems.

In this section, we will answer your questions and give advice on what features to look for when choosing your mattress.

Are Memory Foam Mattresses Good For Back Pain?

Perhaps the most common question we hear is – are memory foam mattresses good for your back? 

Well, 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.

One of the most important features to look out for is the density of the foam. Generally, high-density (5 lbs+) provides the utmost support and optimal spinal alignment. Whereas the medium-density (4 lbs) presents less contouring of the body, and the low-density (2 – 3 lbs) is considered to provide less effective relief compared to the former two.

Other Materials To Look Out For

Memory foam is a popular choice, but it’s not always the best choice. Beds for backs are available in a range of different materials and, depending on your circumstances, a mixture of each may be best for your needs.

a. Latex

A latex mattress is often considered great for back pain because of its effective springy action that 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 included 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. This, in turn, provides great pressure point relief and spinal alignment.

Overall, this is a highly recommended type of mattress for those with symptoms of back pain in the morning or generally requires an orthopedic mattress.

b. Spring

There are other orthopedic mattresses that offer a full-body support, such as the pocket spring (also known as a pocketed coil). These innerspring mattresses are made of thousands 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, 1,000 to 2,000 springs are fine but consider those with more than 2,000 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.

Firmness Levels

When choosing the best type of mattress for back pain, it’s no surprise that firmness levels are one of the most important factors.

Choosing between a firm or soft mattress for back pain is a big decision. Let’s look at the different levels of firmness you can find in mattresses and who might benefit from them.

a. Firm

Firm mattresses prevent sagging and misalignment in the spinal column. For this reason, they have long been the doctor-recommended way to eliminate back pain and help to keep backs strong and healthy, so discomfort doesn’t occur.

However, it’s important to recognize that ‘firm’ is a relative term. Not everyone will feel the same level of support from the same 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. Still, it’s best to try a few out first to see what’s right for you.

b. Medium

Some doctors recommend using a medium or medium-firm mattress because they allow your body to sink in enough to eliminate pressure points. That is without letting it sink too much that your spine twists or bends, causing you more discomfort.

For this reason, beds with medium firmness are a perfect choice for side sleepers. They help to keep your back properly aligned while protecting and cushioning your shoulders and hips for a great night’s sleep.

c. Soft

Doctors almost never recommend soft mattresses. The softer the mattress, the more room for your body to sink more deeply and twist your joints in ways that could cause discomfort.

That said, a softer bed for backs can be a good choice for lightweight stomach sleepers. This is because they don’t put so much pressure on your joints and reduce potential compression that may occur in this sleeping position.

d. Plush

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 has 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. However, the former 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, check some examples here in our latest pillow top mattress reviews.

Spinal Support

Backache is most common in the lower area, although it can be felt anywhere along your spine, from your neck down to your hips.

In choosing your mattress, it’s essential that, when lying down, your body lays flat with even, continuous support and full contact with the surface. It should allow a balanced distribution of the bodyweight 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.

Longevity

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 high 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. Shopping for a new one can be done sooner if they seem less comfortable than before.

Don’t forget to check out the offered warranty when purchasing a new mattress, as this will help protect you from any unforeseen issues later.

Conclusion

While all of the mattresses we have seen are great options, we think the overall best mattress for back pain is the Layla Sleep.

We were very impressed by this mattress. Its flippable design offers you the choice of two firmness levels for the price of one. Hence, you can customize your bed to your current pain level. The copper-infused memory foam is highly responsive to changes in sleep position and provides fantastic spinal support and pressure point relief, all while keeping you cool and fresh on hot summer nights.

Furthermore, the Layla Sleep offers incredible motion transfer control. Thus, you can sleep peacefully no matter how much your partner moves. Trying it out is risk-free, too – thanks to the 120-night trial and generous lifetime warranty!

Additional Resources

6 Responses

    1. Hi Arthur,

      Unfortunately, local shops are most likely to charge more due to higher overheads. All of our reviews are of mattresses available online, which are likely to be cheaper than what you’ll find in store.

      Regards

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