Is your mattress worsening your back or neck pain?
Think about how many hours a day you use your bed
Submitted by Dr. Michael J. Cooney, D.C. on January 27th, 2014
If you are visiting spineuniverse.com, you already know how back or neck pain hampers the quality of your sleep. I always make a point to talk with every patient about their mattress and their pillow.
Not surprisingly, many people don’t even remember how old their current mattress is ─ because it’s that old…
The wrong mattress ─ or an old, worn-out mattress ─ can make spine pain worse, which leads to a restless night and pain during the day.
Medium-firm replaces extra-firm as the most recommended mattress
Current studies show that a medium-firm mattress greatly improves the quality of sleep in people suffering from chronic lower back pain.
Those extra-firm beds, formerly recommended for people with back pain, were actually responsible for poorer sleep quality as reported in some clinical studies.
Because ‘medium firmness’ is a vague term, I recommend you try out different mattresses to discover what feels most comfortable for you (and your partner, if applicable).
New innovations in mattress construction offer added comfort
The hot trends in the mattress industry continue to be the foam, latex, and advanced air mattress construction. But the trend is also supported by proven results; recent studies suggest that they deliver a great night's sleep and can significantly reduce neck pain, sciatica, and chronic back pain, along with lessening pain symptoms in the joints, muscles, and bones.
Memory foam is used in mattresses to conform to body shape. The foam allows the body to remain in its natural shape and alignment, which is believed to relieve pressure on the back and other areas of the body. Tempur-Pedic, the most popular brand of memory foam mattress, claims to adjust to every movement of the body and distribute the weight of the body. While admittedly expensive, it’s the mattress I use and I have just purchased one for my teenager who is engaged in several competitive sports.
Sleep Number air mattresses allow the user to change the firmness of the mattress by adjusting the flow of air, providing a counter pressure to body weight. A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital found that those who switched to the Sleep Number bed from traditional spring mattresses experienced decreased back and neck aches; less soreness, stiffness and pain and improved sleep quality.
Your pillow matters too!
Your pillow should keep your head in a neutral position, not above or below the rest of your body (think of the location of your head when you are standing). Turn your head the same direction as the rest of your body to avoid neck and back pain in the morning. I strongly recommend a cervical pillow for everyone in your household.
While budget is a concern to everyone, keep in mind the amount of time you spend on your mattress and pillow over the course of a month, a year, five years. It’s much more time than you spend in your car, your couch at home, or even your desk chair at work.
Especially for those of you with spinal issues, it's money very well spent.