Mattress Selection When You Have Ankylosing Spondylitis
Sleep matters to keeping a straight spine
Although you cannot completely control your posture while sleeping, you can get started in a straight position on a firm mattress with no pillow under your knees or head. Since pain may seem more severe at night, you need a good foundation to decrease discomfort. Your mattress should be firm and definitely not sag, but can be covered with a variety of relatively thin pads, which cushion the mattress, distribute pressure evenly, and are still comfortable.
"Egg crate" or "Waffle" mattress pads made of foam can be found in most hospital supply stores and department stores. They tend to be warm, as are most foams, and are somewhat difficult to move around on. You can also purchase high-quality 1-1/2-inch thick foam, cut to measure for your bed, from local craft stores. Foam tends to "bottom out" over time and may need replacement long before your mattress has worn down.
The benefits of waterbeds are questionable. Even if they are tightly filled, they probably do not provide sufficient support at the crucial areas (they sag where we bulge) and they may be difficult to get out of and to maintain. On the other hand, they can keep you warm and provide a degree of comfort.
If your back is rigid or you are in spasm, side rails on the bed can help you pull over to the side of the bed or to get up. These are available at medical supply stores. A "Posey" ladder is made of canvas rungs and attaches to the foot of the bed to provide you a means of pulling yourself up.
This article is an excerpt from Straight Talk On Spondylitis, which is published by the Spondylitis Association of America. You can learn more about the SAA and purchase your own copy of Straight Talk by visiting their website, www.spondylitis.org.