We dig deep to find the best type of mattress to help relieve back pain, according to science
There are many causes of back pain and it is important for serious or chronic back pain that you see a qualified medical professional for treatment or advice. This article is not meant to replace professional medical advice.
Suffer from back pain? You are not alone! According to the Medical Journal of Australia (2009) up to 80% of Australians will suffer some form of back pain and 10% suffer a serious disability as a result of it.
The term ‘back pain’ covers a huge spectrum of disorders, from very serious spinal degenerative conditions, to nerve issues, to the vague ache of your back letting you know that the mattress might be getting a bit long in the tooth (maybe like oneself!). It is a very complicated and personal thing with pain levels ranging from slight to excruciating.
There is no single solution for back pain, be it medical treatment or mattress, but we are experts in knowing how to sleep well. So we set out to find what type of mattress would be most likely to alleviate typical non-serious lower back pain that many Australians experience.
Is a hard mattress the solution?
Traditionally the espoused remedy from orthopedic surgeons and others has been a ‘hard’ mattress. Well, there’s only one problem with that. For most of us, a hard sleep surface is a contradiction in terms of our ability to sleep, regardless of how much good it might be doing elsewhere. Even if it’s helping alleviate back pain, if the hard surface is uncomfortable, you won’t be sleeping anyways!
We are by nature creatures of comfort, regardless of what’s ‘best’ for us. We all know our personal choice of comfort foods aren’t strictly following doctors orders! So do we really have to take to the ‘plank’ so to speak and sleep on a girder to help that lower back pain?
Medium firm vs. hard.
Well there’s good news, some research around from properly designed medical tests shows that medium-firm mattresses rather than firm mattresses improved back pain symptoms. Phew that’s lucky, no concrete slab required after all!
One such test concludes that medium firm mattresses improved pain and disability outcomes among people with chronic non-specific lower back pain.
How about just getting a new mattress?
Research also shows that in addition to a medium firm mattress, the next best thing you can do is to buy a new mattress! The issue here is that for many of us its decades between mattress purchases and quite simply the current mattress isn’t doing the job it once did or should do. Some research shows the average age of mattresses is 9.5 years! Hang on, just think about that – to get an average of 9.5 means for every 1-year-old mattress there’s an 18 year old one, and on average we’ve spent 38 cumulative months on the one mattress!
The same research showed that just replacing the old mattress increased sleep quality and reduced back discomfort. The study in question replaced the subject’s current mattress with a medium firm spring mattress.
According to scientific research, getting a new mattress, even if your current one is a medium firm feel, is likely to improve back pain and discomfort outcome.
What are you waiting for?
So there you have it, a lot of things may cause back pain, but non specific lower back pain in particular can be improved by buying a new medium firm mattress…which begs the question: what are you waiting for?