Best Mattresses For Back Pain Relief In 2020

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Back pain can be, well, a pain. Waking up in the morning with a sore back after an uncomfortable night’s sleep can lead to an unfulfilling day. While there are many causes for back pain, sleeping on an uncomfortable and unsupportive mattress can be a large contributor!

So, let’s talk about our top picks for the best mattresses for back pain. In this article, we’ll share our top mattress recommendations for people with back pain and explain how you can choose which mattress is the best fit for you. We’ll also explain how back pain and sleep are related and tell you what factors to look for when buying a mattress specifically for your back pain.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a medical professional or another medical expert if there are any health-related questions.]

The Best Mattresses For Back Pain

  • Saatva – Editor’s Pick
  • Helix Plus – Best Mattress for Heavy People
  • WinkBed – Best Innerspring Mattress
  • Idle Hybrid – Best Hybrid Mattress
  • Loom & Leaf – Best Memory Foam Mattress
  • DreamCloud – Best Firm Mattress
  • Bear – Best Foam Mattress
  • Nolah – Best Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
  • Level Sleep – Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain
  • Purple – Best Mattress for Combination Sleepers

While there are a plethora of comfortable options out there, these ten definitely fit all the criteria people should look for when choosing a mattress to alleviate back pain. They are durable, supportive in the right areas, and have just the ideal firmness to keep the spine in proper alignment.

If you specifically experience lower back pain, check out our list of the best mattresses for low back pain and sciatica as well.

Editor’s Pick

Saatva

Sleepers who struggle with back pain should be looking for a few things in a mattress; they want something that is quite durable, close to medium-firm and supports proper, neutral spinal alignment. Well, there’s a reason I’m starting this list with the Saatva mattress; it fits all these criteria!

First off, the Saatva mattress is a hybrid mattress that includes particularly high-quality materials such as a pillow tophigh-grade coils, micro-coils, and high-density foams as well; a mattress that is prone to sagging isn’t a fantastic option for those who struggle with back pain. Sagging should not be an issue on the Saatva mattress; it is an exceptionally durable option that should remain comfortable and supportive for years to come.

The Saatva is also right in that medium-firm range and, on our firmness scale, had a score of 7/10; this is just slightly firmer-than-average, but the mattress does feature that necessary balance of comfort and support.

Back pain can occur when someone’s mattress does not promote proper spinal alignment; the Saatva handles this issue in two ways. First, it contains an extra layer of micro-coils that provide some excellent contouring for sleepers; it is so important that one’s mattress really takes the shape of the body in order to keep that spine in alignment. What’s more, an extra layer of high-density memory foam is there to add even more lumbar support.

If there’s a checklist for the perfect mattress for back pain, the Saatva seems to check every box!

What Makes The Saatva Stand Out?

  • The Saatva mattress contains two sets of steel coils, one to provide the necessary overall support, and the other to provide fantastic contouring.
  • The mattress boasts some very high-quality components: supportive coils, micro-coils, and high-density foams.
  • The Saatva mattress is very close to a medium-firmness; it features the balance of comfort and support that those with back pain should be seeking.
  • Hot sleepers should not be burning up on the Saatva mattress – its two sets of coils promote airflow through the mattress so that it does not trap too much heat and direct it back at sleepers.

Read the full Saatva mattress review

$200 Off
Saatva
Saatva
Saatva

Saatva is a great value that happens to be both comfortable and supportive at the same time.  You can save $200 on a Saatva mattress simply by clicking the link below.

Best Mattress For Heavy People With Back Pain

Helix Plus

The Helix mattresses are a fantastic choice for those shoppers who just can’t make up their minds – they allow customers to take a sleep quiz, and they then will customize a hybrid mattress based on those answers. People can also select from their line of mattresses, and the Helix Plus is their mattress designed specifically with larger people in mind.

Larger people require more support and durability than lighter people, and the Helix Plus definitely delivers; it features 8″ of individually-wrapped coils that will be able to handle those heavier weights. It also contains Helix Dynamic Foam, Ultra-Dense Memory Foam, and High-Grade polyfoam; these are all high-density foams that shouldn’t sag under the additional weight.

The Helix Plus also has the perfect balance of comfort and support; the tall coils provide the support, and the multiple foam layers provide the comfort. The comfort layer is not extremely thick, and this makes the Helix Plus a fantastic option for heavier back sleepers with back pain.

Heavy people with back pain take note: the Helix Plus could be the perfect mattress.

What Makes The Helix Plus Stand Out?

  • The mattress is made specifically for heavier sleepers; it features very supportive materials such as tall coils and high-density foam.
  • The Helix Plus is a very durable mattress that shouldn’t sag or allow indentations under heavier weights.
  • The Helix Plus is the best mattress for heavy people with back pain. 
  • It has a perfect balance of comfort and support that should be ideal for back sleepers with back pain.

Read the full Helix Plus mattress review 

Up To $200 Off
Helix Plus
Helix Plus
Helix Plus

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Best Innerspring Mattress For Back Pain

WinkBed

If you are deal with back pain and prefer a mattress that is a bit more traditional, the WinkBed mattress could be right for you – it’s the best innerspring mattress on our list! The WinkBed is an innerspring mattress that features two sets of coils and a comfortable pillow top on top. 

You have multiple firmness options to choose from, but the Luxury Firm model should be the best for back pain. It boasts an excellent balance of comfort and support that will help to keep your spine in proper neutral alignment. What’s more, the WinkBed is zoned and will provide extra support under your lumbar area. 

Lastly, the WinkBed is one of the more durable mattresses on this list. People who struggle with back pain don’t want a mattress that will sag too quickly. This could make the back pain worse! However, the WinkBed should last for a number of years and help ease that back pain. 

What Makes The WinkBed Stand Out?

  • The WinkBed Luxury Firm model offers the balance of comfort and support back pain sufferers are looking for. 
  • The mattress is zoned and provides extra lumbar support
  • The WinkBed is an extremely durable mattress that will offer comfort and support for years to come. 

Read the full WinkBed mattress review 

$300 OFF
Winkbeds
Winkbeds
Winkbeds

Winkbeds has a mattress that is an excellent balance of comfort and support.  You can get $300 off the Winkbeds mattress by clicking the link below.

Best Hybrid Mattress

Idle Hybrid

If you deal with back pain, you want something with a great balance of comfort and support. Hybrid mattresses are usually the best at offering this. Out of the many hybrids we have reviewed, we just love the Idle Hybrid mattress. 

The Idle Hybrid mattress contains pocketed coils as well as proprietary foams right on top. What’s more, the mattress is flippable, and you can opt to make both sides a different firmness. This gives you two chances to find the right firmness for your back pain. 

Also, given that it is flippable, the Idle Hybrid could last longer. If you rotate and flip the Idle Hybrid regularly, this will prevent indentations from forming. You will get the support and comfort you need for your back pain for many years! 

What Makes The Idle Hybrid Stand Out?

  • The Idle Hybrid is flippable and can have two firmnesses if you wish. 
  • The mattress is extremely breathable and features extra cooling materials. 
  • The Idle Hybrid is a durable option that should last for a good amount of time. 

Read the full Idle Hybrid mattress review

25% Off
IDLE Sleep Hybrid
IDLE Sleep Hybrid
IDLE Sleep Hybrid

The IDLE Sleep Hybrid mattress is a durable, supportive, flippable mattress that should be a good fit for back sleepers and stomach sleepers. Click the button to save 25% and get 2 free pillows. 

Best Memory Foam Mattress For Back Pain

Loom And Leaf

Memory foam can be a fantastically comfortable – however, if the memory is too soft or isn’t very high-density, it might not be the most ideal choice for people struggling with back pain. The Loom and Leaf is another quality offering from the Saatva company and, while it is a memory foam mattress, it may also help prevent or alleviate back pain.

The Loom and Leaf features two layers of extremely high-density memory foam right on top; the mattress actually feels quite firm at first but, after lying in for a few moments, it will start to soften up. This incredibly slow-moving memory foam offers some of the best contouring I have experienced on a mattress – lying on the Loom and Leaf, the memory foam really hugs the body and fills in all my gaps.

The Loom and Leaf is a particularly good mattress for back sleepers with back pain; the mattress is close to medium-firm and offers a suitable balance of comfort and support. The mattress even contains a Spinal Zone Gel that will provide additional lumbar support!

Those fans of memory foam who struggle with back pain are definitely going to want to check out the Loom and Leaf!

What Makes The Loom And Leaf Stand Out?

  • The mattress contains very durable memory foam that will stand up to years of use.
  • The Loom and Leaf is a medium-firm mattress that provides a perfect balance of comfort and support.
  • The mattress provides excellent contouring and should be a particularly good choice for back sleepers with back pain.
  • The Loom and Leaf’s top memory foam layer contains a gel infusion that will help with heat dissipation, and there are convoluted pockets to promote airflow through the mattress.

Read the full Loom and Leaf review

$200 Off
Loom And Leaf
Loom And Leaf
Loom And Leaf

Loom And Leaf is a perfect choice for those looking for a luxury memory foam feel but don't want to sleep hot.  Save $200 on Loom And Leaf simply by clicking the button below.

Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain

DreamCloud

While medium-firm mattresses are usually best for back pain, some people just need something firmer. The DreamCloud is one of the firmest mattresses on this list and will be a great fit for those who need more support. 

The DreamCloud is a hybrid mattress that contains individually-wrapped coils and multiple layers of foam. While the mattress is firm, it still offers some good contouring right on top. 

The mattress will also be a great option for hot sleepers. The coils promote airflow through the mattress, and the foam on top features cooling infusions as well. You should feel cool and supported on the DreamCloud!

What Makes The DreamCloud Stand Out?

  • The DreamCloud is a firmer mattress option for people with back pain. 
  • It is a breathable mattress that should not trap too much heat. 
  • For a hybrid mattress, the DreamCloud is competitively priced

Read the full DreamCloud mattress review

$200 Off
DreamCloud
DreamCloud
DreamCloud

The DreamCloud is a high-quality hybrid mattress that is sold for a value price - click the button to save $200 on the DreamCloud mattress and get free sheets, pillows, and a protector. 

Best Foam Mattress

Bear

Foam mattresses can also be a great fit for back pain as long as they offer that nice balance of comfort and support. The Bear definitely strikes this balance and should help prevent and alleviate back pain

The Bear is a medium-firm all-foam mattress that contains memory foam, transition foam, and base foam. This construction and firmness make it ideal for back sleepers and side sleepers with back pain. 

Also, the cover contains Celliant fabric which has been shown to increase blood flow and help with cooling. It is designed to help you get a truly rejuvenating night of sleep. 

If you’re a fan of foam mattresses and you deal with back pain, check out the Bear! 

What Makes The Bear Stand Out?

  • The Bear offers a great balance of comfort and support
  • It is a high-quality foam mattress sold for a value price. 
  • The Bear’s Celliant cover and gel infusion should keep it from trapping heat. 

Read the full Bear mattress review 

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Bear Mattress
Bear Mattress
Bear Mattress

The Bear mattresses sleep cool and are quite comfortable. Mattress customers can get 20% off the Bear mattresses and $250 worth of accessories by clicking the link below and using code BF20 at checkout. 

Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Back Pain

Nolah

So, what about those side sleepers out there? It’s true that mattresses that are best for side sleeping are not always the best choice for those with back pain; that is because many side sleeper mattresses are softer-than-average and not quite supportive enough to prevent or alleviate back pain.

That’s why I am such an enormous fan of the Nolah mattress; it is fantastic for side sleepers with back pain. While the mattress is indeed softer-than-average, it does not feature an extremely thick comfort layer of AirFoam – at the same time, the AirFoam is designed to relieve pressure better than memory foam (it is extremely comfortable).

With this design, side sleepers will get just the right amount of pressure relief while also receiving the proper amount of support – the AirFoam should press up into the gap between the ribs and hips while also relieving pressure on the shoulders and hips. Side sleepers should feel well-aligned and comfortable as well!

What Makes The Nolah Stand Out?

  • The Nolah is one of the more comfortable mattresses on this list; the proprietary AirFoam provides exceptional pressure relief, so it should also help with hip pain.
  • The mattress should be supportive enough for back pain sufferers while also providing a suitable amount of contouring.
  • Hot sleepers should not find themselves getting sweaty on the Nolah; it features open-celled foams as well as a cooling cover.

Read the full Nolah mattress review 

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Nolah
Nolah
Nolah

Nolah has a VERY comfortable mattress that is especially good for side sleepers.  You can get up to $300 off the Nolah by clicking the link below.

Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain

Level Sleep

People with back pain can rest easy on the Level Sleep Tri-Support because it is a mattress created specifically with back pain in mind!

The Level Sleep’s defining feature is the titular Tri-Support system; it is a zoned construction where the center of the comfort layer is firmer than the top and bottom. Just to give readers an idea of how these zones vary in regard to firmness, the shoulder zone is close to a 5.5/10, the zone under the knees is a 7/10, and the lumbar zone is an 8/10.

First, this indeed makes the Level Sleep a solid mattress for dealing with back pain; that lumbar zone provides some of the best lumbar support I have experience in a mattress and should ensure sleepers stay in proper, neutral alignment. The company actually spent years perfecting the Level Sleep mattress, and they have conducted numerous studies to test the efficacy of its design; it has been proven to prevent and alleviate back pain!

Also, this zoning should be very attractive to combination sleepers as well – people should feel significantly more support from the lumbar zone when they are stomach and back sleeping and more pressure relief from the shoulder zone when they are side sleeping.

The Level Sleep is all about dealing with back pain; check it out so see if the Tri-Support system sounds like a good fit!

What Makes The Level Sleep Stand Out?

  • The Level Sleep mattress contains a proprietary Tri-Support zoned construction that provides some of the most exceptional lumbar support I have felt on a mattress.
  • The zoning also makes the Level Sleep a fantastic match for all three sleeping positions; whether one sleeps on their back, side, or stomach, the Level Sleep should feel properly supportive and comfortable.
  • The Level Sleep should be a suitable option for hot sleepers as well – the foam found in the top of the mattress is breathable and designed to ensure the top of the mattress stays nice and cool.

Read the full Level Sleep mattress review 

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Level Sleep
Level Sleep
Level Sleep

Level Sleep is a smartly designed mattress that is an excellent choice for those with back pain and is comfortable in any sleeping position. You can get 10% off a Level Sleep mattress by clicking the link below.

Best Mattress For Combination Sleepers

Purple

The Purple is one of the most popular bed-in-a-box mattresses currently on the market and for good reason; it features a very unique, proprietary gel grid in its comfort layer.

This gel grid is made from a hyper-elastic gel polymer that acts differently than foams found in many online mattresses; the grid feels firm and supportive until someone applies enough pressure. When that occurs, that specific area of the gel grid will collapse while the rest of the grid continues to be supportive. This design makes the Purple ideal for those with back pain; it features a perfect balance of comfort and support, and it promotes proper spinal alignment.

No matter what position someone with back pain lies in, they should feel like the Purple is a good match; back sleepers will feel their hips sink in, while the gel grid supports the lumbar area. Side sleepers will feel like their shoulders and hips sink in, but the gel grid will fill all the other gaps; stomach sleepers shouldn’t feel the mattress collapse whatsoever.

The Purple is one of the most durable mattresses on the market and shouldn’t sag at all; people with back pain should love the Purple no matter what position they sleep in.

What Makes The Purple Stand Out?

  • The Purple features a hyper-elastic gel polymer that is simultaneously supportive and pressure-relieving.
  • The mattress is an exceptional fit for all three sleeping positions and should provide excellent lumbar support for combination sleepers.
  • The gel grid allows the mattress to sleep almost completely temperature-neutral; it leaves a significant amount of room for airflow, so hot sleepers shouldn’t be overheating on the Purple.
  • The Purple mattress is incredibly durable, shouldn’t sag, and should last for a good amount of time.

Read the full Purple mattress review

Up To $500 Off
Purple
Purple
Purple

Purple is an innovative mattress that is a great fit for all three sleeping positions and doesn't sleep hot.  You can save $100 on the Purple mattress or save $500 when you bundle with other Purple products. 

Recommendations For Heavyweight Sleepers (Over 230 lbs)

It is always important to consider one’s size and weight when searching for a mattress; customers want to make sure that their new mattress will properly support heavier weights. This is even more important when we are discussing mattresses for back pain; larger people require even more support under their lumbar area so that they do not get out of alignment. For this reason, I asked Marten, who weighs 250 lbs, to give his perspective on these mattresses; I only weigh 160 lbs, so it will be fantastic to hear about his experience:

Out of these ten mattresses, four really stand out among the rest; they should be excellent options for those heavier sleepers out there.

First off, as Joe mentioned, I was the reviewer for the Helix Plus mattress; Helix creates mattresses for many different types of people, and the Helix Plus is their mattress designed specifically with larger people in mind. The Helix Plus mattress has that medium firmness that those with back pain should be searching for, but it is also incredibly supportive and offers the necessary lumbar support.

The Saatva mattress is also a fantastic match because it features a nice balance of comfort and support; back sleeping, I receive excellent lumbar support and the mattress conforms to the curves of my body. When I am side sleeping, my hips sink in the right amount, and the memory foam presses up to fill in my gaps and keeps me in proper neutral alignment.

The Purple mattress features a hyper-elastic gel polymer in its comfort layer – it stays flat and supportive until I apply enough pressure. Even though I am a larger person, the mattress only collapses under my hips and butt when I am back sleeping and under my shoulders and hips when I am side sleeping. This ensures that I get both the comfort and support I need so that I remain neutrally aligned; when stomach sleeping, the mattress does not collapse at all. Heavier combination sleepers shouldn’t definitely take note!

The Level Sleep mattress really stands out because of its zoned construction – the center of the mattress is firmer, more supportive, and provides additional lumbar support. I feel like the Level Sleep is an especially good match for heavier back sleepers, as my hips sink in just the right amount while I get excellent overall support in that sleep position.

How Does Back Pain Affect Sleep? 

Back pain can interfere with your sleep for a number of reasons. The most obvious way that back pain harms your sleep is by causing you to wake up frequently in discomfort throughout the night. Back pain can also make it hard to get comfortable and fall asleep at night in the first place.

Suffering from pain, especially long-term pain, can also take a toll on your mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression related to your pain can make it more difficult to sleep well at night.

How Does Your Sleeping Position Affect Back Pain? 

The way you position your body at night also impacts your back pain. Different positions put extra strain on your muscles and joints and contribute to pain.

Stomach Sleeping

Stomach sleepers put the most strain on the lower back area. The more lofted your pillow is, the worse this lumbar strain becomes. Stomach sleeping also puts a lot of pressure on the neck for this reason. It’s best for stomach sleepers to use a thin pillow and a more firm mattress that won’t cause sinkage.

If you sleep in this position, check out our lists for the best mattresses for stomach sleepers and the best pillows for stomach sleepers to ensure you’re getting proper support.

Side Sleeping

Side Sleeper With Hip Pain

Side sleepers put the most pressure on the shoulders and hips. A medium to medium-firm mattress with a contouring comfort layer topped on a supportive base layer provides the match of comfort and support side sleepers need to keep their spine aligned. If a mattress is too soft or too firm, the spine will not stay aligned and back pain can worsen. This can also lead to neck and shoulder pain.

Back Sleeping

Sleeper With Back Pain

Back sleeping is generally the most recommended option because you have the best chance of keeping your spine aligned correctly; however, if a mattress is too soft or too hard, even back sleepers can put a lot of strain on the lumbar region of the spine.

A mattress that’s too soft will cause the hips to sink in too far, while a mattress that’s too firm won’t support the natural curvature of the spine in the lumbar area. A medium-firm to firm mattress is typically the most comfortable for back sleepers.

Can Your Mattress Make Back Pain Worse?

Your mattress can certainly worsen or even cause your back pain. If you’re getting the proper amount of sleep each night, you’re spending around 7-9 hours sleeping on your mattress each night. If your mattress is sagging, too firm, too soft, or not supportive enough then you’re spending a lot of time putting pressure on your joints and spine.

If you consistently wake up with pain in the morning, that’s a good sign that your mattress is either causing or worsening your back pain and it may be time to start looking for a new mattress that offers better support.

What’s The Best Type Of Mattress For Back Pain? 

So how can you find the best type of mattress to alleviate your back pain? Certain mattresses are better suited for people with back pain than others.

Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are not ideal for back pain sufferers since they are made with mostly coils. This type of construction makes for a more firm and bouncy bed, rather that one that is contouring and pressure relieving. Topping an innerspring mattress with a foam or latex mattress topper to provide a soft, cushion layer can help.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are great for sleepers with back pain. Memory foam does a nice job of evenly distributing body weight across the surface to avoid pain in the pressure points, especially for side sleepers.

Hybrid

Hybrid mattresses are ideal for people with back pain. Combining a supportive coil layer with a contouring comfort layer on top gives a nice balance that back pain sufferers need.

Latex

Latex mattresses have nice contouring abilities without causing too much sinkage, making them a good match for people with back pain.

Of course, there are certain factors you should also consider for each of these mattress types.

What Should Someone Look For In A Mattress To Relieve Back Pain?

So, now that we know what back pain is and what causes it, how can a mattress deal with this pressing issue? And for those looking for a mattress to alleviate and prevent back pain, what should they consider?

Lumbar Support

For pain sufferers, it’s important that the lower back area is properly supported. One 2005 study, which was published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Foundation, found that good lumbar support “limit[s] unfavorable compressive and shearing forces acting on the lumbar spine.”

Mattresses such as the Level Sleep have a special system to ensure the lumbar area has extra support – other mattresses, such as the Casper, also feature a zoned construction so the middle part of the mattress is firmer than the rest.

Comfort Layer Thickness

Along with lumbar support, people should think about just how thick the mattress’s comfort Mattress Comfort Layer Thicknesslayer is. While a thick comfort layer can feel great at first, it might not give the proper support; there’s the chance of sinking too far into the mattress and not getting the proper support.

The Harvard Medical School says, “You might also sink in so deeply that your joints twist and become painful during the night.” That said, it’s important to consider one’s sleeping position when taking comfort layer thickness into account; for side sleepers, a thicker comfort layer could be a better match.

Mattress Firmness Test Firmness

The overall firmness of a mattress comes into play when thinking about back pain (but also depends on one’s sleep position). Doctors once recommended that pain sufferers opt for a firm mattress but that has now changed, and doctors recommend a medium firm mattress. A 2015 study from the journal Sleep Health found that “a mattress that is subjectively identified as a medium firm mattress and is custom inflated (self-adjusted) is optimal for promoting sleep comfort, quality, and spinal alignment.

It’s best not to let the hips sink in too far and, if the mattress is too soft, falling into the mattress becomes more likely. For side sleepers, the mattress should be soft enough for the shoulder to compress the mattress; if it is too firm, the shoulder will be pushed up, and the body will also get out of alignment.

Considering Body Weight To Find Right MattressWeight

For those who are considered a larger person, definitely take this into account when choosing a mattress for back pain – one’s weight can affect how firm a mattress feels, as well as much support it can offer. It might be necessary to choose a mattress that would feel firm to a lighter person. Also, there is a risk of “bottoming out” on a mattress, so a thick comfort layer might not be ideal.

Mattress DurabilityDurability

After finding that perfect medium firm mattress with just the right amount of comfort, people still want to know that the mattress will handle back pain for a good duration of time – people want to pay particular attention to the density of foams and the quality of other materials such as coils and pillow-tops. If the mattress begins to sag, this could make the back pain even worse.

Armed with this information, people should have all the knowledge they need to choose the right mattress for preventing and alleviating back pain. Experiencing back pain is never fun, but these excellent choices can definitely make the situation a little better!

What Is Back Pain?

Most of us know when our back is giving us issues, but what is really happening here behind the scenes?

According to the National Institute of Arthritis And Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases, back pain is “one of the most common medical problems in the U.S; it can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move.”

Surveys from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that about 80 percent of Americans will struggle with back pain at some point in their lifetimes – this potentially helps explain why back pain is the fifth most common reason people go to the doctor. At the same time, many pain sufferers do not see a doctor because of pride, money issues, or other reasons.

The Mayo Clinic describes back pain symptoms as:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down the leg
  • Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing, or walking
  • Pain that improves with reclining

The Mayo Clinic also defines two types of back pain: acute and chronic. Acute back pain occurs when symptoms last between a few days and a few weeks; if the symptoms last for over 12 weeks, this is considered chronic back pain.

What Causes Back Pain?

Lower Back Pain From An Unfit Mattress

Just as the symptoms of back pain can vary, there are numerous reasons someone might be feeling back pain – here are some of the most common explanations for lower and upper back pain:

  • Strain. If someone works a job that requires him/her to lift especially heavy objects, the repetition of this action can potentially lead to muscle and ligament strain. Also, simply lifting a heavy object without using the legs can potentially cause immediate strain in the lower back area; if someone is in poor physical shape, it increases the likelihood of pulling a muscle in the lower back area.
  • Ruptured or herniated discs. This is one of the major causes of lower back pain and can be particularly debilitating. The Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says, “A disk begins to herniate when its jelly-like nucleus pushes against its outer ring due to wear and tear or a sudden injury. This pressure against the outer ring may possibly cause lower back pain and, if the pressure continues, the jelly-like nucleus may push all the way through the disk’s outer ring or cause the ring to bulge. This puts pressure on the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots. In addition, the disk material releases chemical irritants that contribute to nerve inflammation.”
  • Arthritis or scoliosis. Arthritis can definitely have a direct impact on the lower back area in multiple ways – arthritis can lead to spinal stenosis, wherein the spaces in the spine narrow and begin to put pressure on the nerves. Scoliosis, on the other hand, is an unnatural curvature of the spine; this can affect posture, stretching muscles and pinching nerves, and thereby cause back pain issues. Make sure to check out our best mattresses for arthritis.
  • Serious injury. Car accidents, sports-related injuries, and workplace falls can all lead to pulled muscles, pinched nerves, and herniated discs; these are all associated with back pain and are very common occurrences in America.
  • Sciatica. The sciatic nerve goes through the buttocks and down the back of the leg; if this nerve is compressed, people could potentially experience back pain or numbness in the leg.

What Increases The Chances Of Experiencing Back Pain?

There are also a plethora of factors that could make it more likely for someone to develop back pain.

  • Age. As we grow older, we have a significantly higher chance of dealing with back pain; aging can cause degeneration of spinal discs so they aren’t as effective at absorbing shock. It’s also possible to develop Spondylolisthesis, where one vertebra moves into another vertebra.
  • Lack of exercise. If we don’t exercise, our bodies can become susceptible to back pain; also, if our back muscles are weak, the back pain can potentially become more severe. Many studies have shown that exercise can help alleviate back pain. In fact, one 2012 study from Informed Health Online found that exercise can prevent a recurrence of acute back pain in 1 out of 3 people.
  • High bodyweight. For those that are overweight, back pain becomes more likely – a higher weight could also exacerbate the pain and generally make things harder to manage. One 2016 study, which was published in the journal Medicine, found that “higher BMI and waist-hip ratio were associated with high-intensity low back pain and/or high disability.”
  • Depression and/or anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, people with these disorders are more likely to struggle with back pain than people who don’t experience anxiety and/or depression.
  • Smoking. The Mayo Clinic states that smoking cigarettes cuts down on blood flow to the lower back area and reduces the nutrients that are delivered to the spine – for those with acute back pain, nicotine can slow the healing process.

Sleeping Tips For People With Back Pain

If you don’t address your back pain in some way, it could continue to worsen over time with increase stress to the joints and spine. That being said, here are a couple actionable steps you can take to improve your sleeping situation if you deal with back pain.

  1. Purchase a more comfortable and supportive mattress. Of course, our first recommendation is that you check out the mattresses we’ve listed as being the best for people looking for spine support and back pain relief.
  2. Top off your current mattress with a mattress topper. A pressure-relieving mattress topper could be just the relief you need to keep your spine aligned when you sleep.
  3. Change up your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back is the best way to keep your spine in a neutral position. If you’re a stomach or side sleeper, you may want to consider switching up your position.
  4. Use pillows for support. Using a pillow with the right amount of loft is important for keeping the cervical spine in alignment (the part at the base of your neck). If you sleep on your stomach, make sure you’re sleeping on a thin pillow. Back and side sleepers need a medium to thick pillow. Stomach sleepers may also benefit by placing a thin pillow under the pelvis region to support the lumbar region of the spine. Side sleepers can be more comfortable with a pillow between the knees.
  5. Speak with a doctor or medical professional. If your back pain is causing severe discomfort and becoming a hinderance to your sleep, it’s always best to consult an expert for medical advice.

Summary

Here’s a recap of our top picks for the best mattresses for back pain relief:

MattressBest For
SaatvaEditor’s Pick
Helix PlusBest Mattress for Heavy People
WinkBedBest Innerspring Mattress
Idle HybridBest Hybrid Mattress
Loom & LeafBest Memory Foam Mattress
DreamCloudBest Firm Mattress
BearBest Foam Mattress
NolahBest Mattress for Side Sleepers with Back Pain
Level SleepBest Mattress for Lower Back Pain
PurpleBest Mattress for Combination Sleepers

Each of these mattresses offer great comfort and support for sleepers with back pain, though each offers its own unique features that make it standout and a better fit for particular types of sleepers.

If you’re still searching for your next best mattress, try checking out our other guides or take our mattress quiz for personalized recommendations.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a medical professional or another medical expert if you have health-related questions.]

Featured image: SOPRADIT/Shutterstock

FAQs

Can a mattress give you back pain?

It is definitely possible for a mattress to cause back pain – if the mattress is not supportive enough, a person’s spine might not stay in proper neutral alignment.

A mattress that is incredibly soft may be the culprit when it comes to back pain; if it does not provide enough overall or, specifically, lumbar support, sleepers could find themselves with feelings of back strain.

What is the best mattress for side sleepers with back pain?

There are a few mattresses that should be excellent options for side sleepers with back pain. The Nolah mattress, for instance, is softer but does not feature an extremely thick comfort layer; side sleepers should get enough pressure relief while the mattress keeps them properly aligned.

The Level Sleep and Casper mattresses are also good choices because of their zoned construction – the center of each mattress is firmer and provides extra lumbar support even when someone is sleeping on their sides.

Are hybrid mattresses good for back pain?

Hybrid mattresses can be good options for people who struggle with back pain and want to sleep better; coils offer excellent support and help keep sleepers well-aligned. However, it is important to pay attention to the comfort layer of the hybrid mattress; if the comfort layer is particularly thick and makes the mattress too soft, that hybrid mattress won’t be the best fit for back pain.

Are memory foam mattresses good for back pain?

Memory foam mattresses can be a good option for back pain, but there are a few things to keep in mind to sleep better. First, make sure that the mattress is still in that medium-firm range; if the mattress is extremely soft, it might not offer quite enough support.

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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