Types of Back Pain . . . And Mattresses That Can Help
By Kermit Bauer
In regards to your health, the most important piece of furniture you own is your mattress. You spend approximately one third of your life in bed. An uncomfortable mattress can have a negative effect on the quantity and quality of your sleep. This is especially the case for millions of back pain sufferers who have been ill advised over the last several decades that a firm mattress is best for them. In actuality there are several factors to consider when choosing the best mattress for you, including: the type of back problem you are experiencing, your sleep position, mattress support, and your comfort preference.
Different types of mattresses help alleviate pain for different types of back problems and symptoms. People with lumbar disc problems have symptoms that include a shooting pain in one leg from the top of the buttock to the lower leg or foot accompanied by numbness, the feeling of "pins and needles", or leg weakening. Those suffering from this condition would benefit from a firm mattress as a bending or flexing mattress can be very uncomfortable.
Sufferers of spinal stenosis experience pain, cramping or numbness in the back, legs, arms, and shoulders and function better in a flexed or loose position. Therefore, a slightly softer mattress works better for them. The most common back pain complaint is lower back pain. Usually people experience an aching dull pain in the center of the lower back. A clinical study out of Spain showed that a medium firm mattress is generally better at relieving chronic back pain than a firmer model. However, there isn't one single style of mattress that works best for everyone with lower back pain.
In conjunction with the type of back pain you suffer from, another factor to consider is the position in which you sleep. If you have a lumbar disc problem then sleeping on your stomach with a flat pillow under your stomach and hips is probably the most comfortable position for you because it reduces stress on the degenerated disc in your lower back. A firmer mattress is best for sleeping on your stomach while a softer mattress will cause an uncomfortable arch in your back that will worsen your condition.
People with spinal stenosis are most comfortable sleeping on their side in the fetal position with a pillow between their knees. A medium firm or firm mattress is good for this sleeping position but most people prefer a thicker padding to reduce pressure on their hips and shoulders. Finally, those suffering from lower back pain should sleep lying on their back with a pillow under their knees to relieve pressure from the lower back. There is no single mattress style that works for all people with back pain, but people with lower back pain should choose a mattress that offers support, comfort, and ultimately, a good night's sleep.
Another major factor in choosing a mattress is the support that mattress provides. A supportive mattress will offer the right balance of support and concavity in order to allow the spine to align naturally. There are several components of the mattress that contribute to how supportive a mattress set is. First, mattress springs and coils are the most important features of a mattress that provide back support. The coil gauge of mattress denotes how stiff or firm a mattress is. The lower the gauge of the coil, the thicker and stiffer the wire, thus, the firmer the mattress. Furthermore, the higher the coil count of a mattress, the better the quality. However, a higher coil count does not necessarily mean a more comfortable or supportive mattress.
The next component of a mattress set that affects back support is the foundation, or boxspring. The foundation/boxspring absorbs weight for the mattress. It is important to purchase the boxspring designed to match your mattress because manufacturers design both pieces to work together. A mismatched set may adversely affect the longevity of your mattress and the level of support the mattress provides.
Finally, the most important key to mattress buying is to buy what is comfortable for you. No two of us are the same when it comes to what we need from our mattress. Therefore, it is important to take time to actually try the mattress out, especially if you suffer from chronic back problems. It is suggested that you spend at least ten minutes on several different mattresses. Turn over from side to side and make sure that mattress provides enough support to allow the spine to rest in its natural state. The mattress quilt and just beneath the quilt, in the middle of mattress, consist of mattress padding made of polyurethane foams, puffed up polyester, and cotton batting. These materials affect the firmness of the mattress. Generally, people find that mattresses with more padding are more comfortable.
Overall, when choosing a mattress, consider all of the factors mentioned above. Ultimately, the best mattress for your back pain is the one you find most comfortable for you and your sleep preferences.
About the Author:
Kermit Bauer writes for Coast to Coast Mattress. Coast to Coast Mattress is an online nationwide retailer for a wide variety of mattress and bedding products.