Getting a good night’s sleep is important in keeping a good mood and healthy body. But if you're living with upper back pain, then you already know that falling asleep isn’t as easy as lying down and closing your eyes. It takes a few tosses and turns to find a comfortable position, which can take too long if you’re not sleeping in a bed that provides enough support for your back.
So how can you choose the best mattress for alleviating upper back pain? Some important features to consider when choosing a mattress for upper back pain are the mattress type, firmness, pressure relief, and mattress material. People should also consider their dominant sleeping position to optimize their pain relief efforts.
About 65 million Americans experience back pain and up to 8% of them have persistent or chronic back pain. If you also suffer from back pain now and then, it’s important to keep the spine supported and properly aligned at all times – especially when sleeping for long hours.
Persistent upper back, neck, or shoulder pain may be caused by different factors – and one of them is sleeping on bad mattresses. Patients know that it’s time to sleep on a new and better mattress when they feel sore in the neck and shoulders.
Mattresses typically only last for 7 to 10 years. When people start seeing indentations, they should consider buying a new one to keep their back properly supported. Changing mattresses every few years is important to alleviate aches and pain and allow people to sleep more comfortably.
But not all mattresses are made the same way. Some of them provide most comfort or support than others. It’s important to sleep on a mattress you’re comfortable in, but it should also alleviate pressure on the back and keep your spine properly aligned at all times.
People often consider their subjective comfort when it comes to choosing a mattress to sleep in, but finding the right bed for your back is a lot more complicated than that. Here are some elements to consider when picking a mattress for upper back pain relief:
There’s no one best mattress type for patients with upper back pain – since every person has to consider their body weight, sleeping position, and medical needs. But some of the most common mattress types that people with upper back pain use are memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses, innerspring mattresses, and hybrid mattresses.
Hybrid mattresses are the safest option for most sleepers since they provide a good mix of support and pressure relief. They also come in different materials to suit each person’s specific needs.
Foam mattresses are another great option, especially for side sleepers who want a softer bed to sleep in. However, they might not be good for sleepers with more weight because they don’t provide proper support for the back.
Several studies and reviews like the one from 2015 and another from 2021 point to medium-firm mattresses as the best choice for people with back pain. This specific mattress firmness promotes proper spine alignment and improves sleep quality, which decreases the back pain experienced by patients.
But the patient’s personal preference is still important when it comes to deciding how firm the mattress should be. They can’t get a good night’s sleep if they feel that the mattress feels too soft or hard on their back. It’s crucial to find a mattress that’s just a good balance of support and softness.
The best mattress firmness might also depend on the patient’s weight. If a patient has more weight, they’re likely to sink deeper into the mattress and experience upper back pain. It’s also crucial to remember that mattresses get softer over time, so experts advise buying a firm mattress that patients can still comfortably sleep on.
The wrong mattress adds strain to the back’s pressure points, which causes misalignment and pain along the back. With this said, it’s important to find a bed that doesn’t put much pressure on the spine or any major joint – allowing the body to rest well in a more relaxed state.
Mattresses with great pressure relief gently conform to the shoulder and hips. The best choices for this are all-foam mattresses or hybrid mattresses that have foam comfort layers. Another good choice is a latex mattress or one that has a latex blend foam.
However, remember that comfort is subjective – what works for one person won’t always work for another. For pressure relief, it’s best to find a bed that offers an in-home trial policy so you can return it if it’s not up to your liking.
In a 2010 study, researchers found that participants often experience relief from back pain after sleeping on mattresses that were chosen for their dominant sleeping position. To ensure your comfort as you sleep, it’s also important to pick a mattress according to your specific sleeping position.
Softer mattresses are the best pick for side sleepers because they provide pressure relief on the shoulders and hips. For stomach and back sleepers, the best pick is a firm mattress with coils to keep the spine aligned and prevent the heavy body parts from sinking. For sleepers with more weight, it’s best to pick a hybrid mattress with a firm feel.
Before buying a mattress, check what kind of sleeping position it’s for first. Check the reviews too and ask people who have more insights about mattresses for their opinion.
Latex foam and other foam mattresses are the best for sleepers with upper back and neck pain. Coils won’t provide the right contouring and pressure relief for the body, so it’s best to pick a hybrid with a latex foam comfort layer to make up for it.
For sleepers that easily feel hot when sleeping, it’s also important to find a mattress that offers some kind of cooling technology – like gel foam, perforated foam, or phase-change materials. Sleeping hot doesn’t cause pain for most sleepers but frequent tossing and turning can make everything uncomfortable for them.
Since people have different preferences when it comes to mattresses, it’s not easy to pick the best mattress for upper back pain. But considering the features discussed above, here are some of our recommendations:
Upper back pain can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. Picking the right mattress greatly helps relieve upper back pain and makes your nights more comfortable by providing the right support for your back, neck, and shoulders. But although sleeping on a better mattress improves spine alignment and alleviates some of the back pain you feel, it’s still important to consult with a pain expert if your upper back pain is persistent.
At Gramercy Pain Center, we offer non-surgical treatment options for upper back pain to help our patients return to their pain-free life. Get in touch with us today to book an appointment and learn more about possible treatment plans for your upper back pain.