If you suffer from back or neck pain, purchasing the right mattress can go a long way towards alleviating your symptoms.
Read: Mattress Guidelines for Sleep Comfort
But, as you likely know, the seemingly infinite number of mattress options can be overwhelming.
There is no magic formula when it comes to buying a new mattress, but these 7 tips can help you make an informed decision:
- Consult with your doctor. If you know the underlying cause of your back or neck pain, ask your doctor for a specific mattress recommendation. Of course, your doctor is not a mattress expert—but he or she may be able to offer some helpful advice based on their years of experience with patients.
- Look out for sales tricks. Mattress sellers sometimes describe their mattresses as "orthopedic" or "medically-approved," but there is no medical organization that officially certifies mattresses as such. A mattress may have orthopedic-friendly features, but this does not mean a medical body has necessarily tested or reviewed the specific mattress.
- Try out the mattress. When deciding on a new mattress, lie on the mattress for at least 10 to 15 minutes while at the store. This may seem strange, but buying a mattress is a big purchase—and it’s a decision you may live with for 5 to 10 years. Also, don’t forget to bring your partner along if you sleep with someone else every night.
- Don’t default to a firm mattress for your back pain. For whatever reason, many people assume that the firmer the mattress the better it is for your back pain. But the best mattress for most lower back pain sufferers may actually be a medium firm mattress. It’s important to note that there is a difference between firm support and firm feel—and typically you want a mattress with firm support but a comfortable feel. Of course, comfort is determined by your personal preference.
- Don’t forget about adjustable beds. As a general rule, if sitting in a recliner is better for your back or neck pain than lying down you will benefit from an adjustable bed. But an adjustable bed is not a type of mattress, but rather a base that can be adjusted to various positions. If you go with an adjustable bed, you will likely need to purchase a new mattress that is compatible with your new base.
- Check your pillow. Before you purchase a new mattress, check to see if the problem is actually with your pillow. For example, if you sleep on your side a pillow that is too high can place extra strain on your neck. Additionally, if you sleep on your stomach it’s typically a good idea to utilize an ultra-slim pillow—or to forego a pillow altogether.
- Shop at a store that specializes in mattresses. You may be able to find a better price online or at a big-box retailer, but the salespeople at a mattress specialty store typically know more about the product they’re selling. It’s also a good idea to shop at a mattress specialty store that carries mattresses from all the major manufacturers.
At the end of the day, purchasing a mattress for your back or neck pain is largely a matter of personal preference. But to help you feel more confident in your choice, make sure the store you purchase from offers a 30-day return policy.