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Battle with the Mattress

HaylieCatOwnerHHaylieCatOwner Posts: 117
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Since my Micro-D six weeks ago, the quest has been to help my mattress be more accommodating. I did a search on this site and read what I could about mattresses, and I've altered my too-soft mattress by putting a piece of plywood under it. But now it is too firm. I've tried adding a foam topper, and it was still too firm. I tried adding three comforters/bedspreads, and it's still to firm. My question is this: which is worse, a too-soft mattress or a too-firm one? I am having random pains in my backside, and I'm wondering if the firm bed is the cause. Would I be better off removing the plywood and sleeping on my too-soft mattress? How much harm can a too-soft mattress do?

Thanks for any suggestions! :)))



  • If the pain was less bothersome with the softer bed, then ditch the plywood. If the harder is better then keep it.

    I know that may not be of too much help, but from the research I have done on mattresses, and through my own experience, comfort has been the only deciding factor.

    One Love,

  • I agree, comfort seems to be the only deciding factor. That's what my doctor told me as well, whatever feels best to you.
  • Are we sure the mattress can't harm my disk somehow? If it's just a comfort issue, than the board is gonna go!


  • I bought a memory foam mattress and it's very comfortable. I bought it wholesale so the price was more reasonable. I haven't had surgery yet though so not sure if this could help at all. Take care and wish you a painless recovery from surgery. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • If it makes you feel better about making the decision. Do you toss and turn more when you are uncomfortable? I do. I think you would be more likely to injure yourself in that way.

    One Love,

  • Yes, I toss and turn. With the soft mattress, my concern is lack of support for my back. My NS mentioned a "medium firm mattress" when I spoke with him, and as an alternative, he thought the addition of the plywood to my existing bed would work. Before I pay money for a new mattress all together, I may try to still work with this. (Though I miss my old softie mattress...)

    Does anyone know if you can buy the "Pillow Top" type of mattress top without buying the mattress that comes with it? I've tried the separate toppers you can buy at places like Target, but their pillows are really like pillows and wouldn't be comfortable for my back.

  • I have the 3 inch memory foam mattress topper. It was expensive but worth it. Good luck, Sue
  • for the memory foam toppers. Usually the best price and max of 2.95 shipping. If you go with one of these make sure it is at least 2 inch.
  • we bought a matress topper at walmart.
    its 3 inches foam and then 1 inch memory foam on the top.
    ITS LIKE WONDERLAND. we have a queen so it was like 125.
    the other toppers as the ones filled with feathers etc just did not cut it. that one is actually folded up behind my bed and saved for sleep overs of my daughter.
    only DOWNSIDE memory foam throws off heat. so it does get very warm..

    as harming the disk tossing and turning hmmm very very good question.. not sure about that one...

    good luck in your decision ;) ;) ;)
  • DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I got the 3" memory foam topper at Bed Bath and Beyond. It was really weird to get used to but now I have a hard time getting out of bed because it's just so comfortable to just lay there. The thing that is weird is it's much harder to turn over in bed because you sink down into it. You might want to find a place that has the tempur pedic bed or a memory foam topper set up so you can try the turning over thing.

    I'm not sure I would have been able to use it right after my microD with my back brace and all trying to put that on while in bed was quite the ordeal and with the topper there would have been no way I could have done it. But the topper is really comfortable and I've decided I really like it. I notice when I lay on my side it keeps my spine in a straight position because my hip sinks down into it. Without it my spine is slightly bent because of my hip.
  • I spent the BIG bucks and bought a "Dormia" adjustable bed/mattress. WELL worth the $3,000. price tag IMO! I could not have made it through my recovery without it!! I love, LOVE, LOVE it!
  • Thanks for the great advice! I took the board out from under the mattress and slept on my soft mattress last night. I woke up with hip and rear-end pain on my left side. I don't know if it was the mattress for sure of if I overdid it yesterday. Maybe both? I worry about the too soft mattress because it does not provide support under me. I think I was better with the board under the mattress, even though it wasn't comfy.

    The mattress toppers sound like the way to go. I am also about to give in and look at a new bed completely. I wish I had $3000 to spend, but it will likely be up to $600 or so. That brings up a whole new issue... I read the reviews on how to buy a bed but I'd love to hear what you all think. The physical therapist said "medium firm" is best because then it's not too soft or too hard. The NS didn't think the pillowtop was a good idea though. What have your experiences been?

  • Has worked pretty well for me. Not too soft and not too firm. However, I too have had horrible problems since my microD and did not relate it to my mattress until I went out of town a couple of weeks ago. The hotel that I stayed at had foam mattresses. I stayed there for several days and did not have the pain that I usually do upon waking. I was shocked. I have tried foam mattresses in the store and have not liked them. We have always had a plush mattress but last year we bought a new mattress that I really liked in the store. It is called a Pillowtop Euro Firm. It is a pillowtop but is actually firm. Sealy has just come out with them. Now, I seem to be having pressure points on this brand new $1800 mattress. I have been reading a thread in the matters of the heart section that talks about the memory foam toppers and am seriously thinking of trying one. I have seen the ones that keep you cool at linens and things but we have a king and they are very expensive. Good luck to you in finding a comfortable mattress. Oh yeah, when you are trying it out in the store do not hesitate to lay on it for at least 20 minutes.
  • is getting comfortable in anything, cant sleep in my bed too soft, spare room too hard, couch just not good at all, stacks of blankets, pillows..its the worst...lol
  • Haylie, go to the bed store and lie down on a bunch of mattresses. You really need to try them out. I like a firm one, but not the firmest. I also make sure it has either a pillow top or just plush top. I also got the 3 inch memory foam and love it. I got it at Gottschalks on a half off sale and it still was $160 (king). It is the cool one. I have heard of some here buying them at overstock.com. Good luck, a comfy bed is sooo important. >:D< Sue
  • I am 2 weeks post op with micro discectomy. I too am having trouble my mattress is a med firm and I can't sleep. I have a horrible time getting up and as soon as my feet hit the floor I feel like a truck has plowed into my lower back and it is 15 min of extreme pain in my right hip and it has always been my left that I have had problems with. Any suggestions of how to get out of bed??? I have had to finally sleep in my recliner after speaking to my surgeon not the best thing to do but he said I have to sleep or I would not heal as quick! This has been one miserable time for me!

    I pray everyone gets a good night sleep with the best of dreams!!
  • Do you do the log roll to get out of bed? That's the only way I could get up. Also, at about week 7 or so, I could not get in a comfy position and woke up all during the night with pain in my hips. I went to Walmart and got the 4" memory foam topper for my bed. Although it made it more difficult to turn over and I had to use a step ladder to get in bed, it really made a difference in my sleep...no trigger points were affected and I sleep like a baby now. Best wishes on finding something right for you!
  • I bought my pillow top bed almost 2 years before my first surgery and it was the most comfortable bed i'd ever slept in. And it still is today, 6 years later. But since everyone sleeps differently, I would say your best bet is to go to a mattress store and check them out for yourself. I'd start with the cheapest route first. Mine is a queen size and I only paid $400 for it. I had trouble sleeping in it after my first surgery, I actually ended up sleeping on the couch for a year. But after my 2nd surgery (Aug 21 of this year) my bed was the only place I could get comfy. Good luck in your search!
  • How about the "Sleep Number" beds. I've been thinking about getting one of those. You can adjust the firmness. With fusions in my neck and now getting ready to get my lower back fused I was thinking this may be the only way to go. Anyone tried these beds yet?

  • yes i do the log roll . it is very difficult to get into a sitting position i have a electric shock like pain. I am beginning to think my surgery wasn't a success. Tuesday will begin my 3rd week post op and the way my surg talks I should be just about doing everything I could do before. I'm having to take anothe week off of work. Thi is beginning to get very discouragaing. Any and all suggestions are appreciated. How long if ever will normal return?
  • My MIL had a sleep # bed for about 2 years and she got rid of it and bought a Dormia after laying on mine! She said that she is amazed at the difference. SHe was not at all happy with the sleep # bed-not really sure what her complaints were though.
  • I wanted to say thank you to all who helped me with my battle with my mattress. It started off way too soft, so we put a piece of plywood under the mattress. Then it was way too firm. I put several comforters and blankets on top of the mattress to soften it up, but it was still too hard and I woke up stiff (or stiffer) than usual. I even took the plywood out to see if I could live with the too soft mattress. But then I was back at square one, and the mattress was really too soft.

    Finally, I put the plywood back under the mattress, and we went to Walmart and bought the 4 inch memory foam topper (it's actually half memory foam, half regular foam) to put on top of the mattress. It works GREAT! Not too hard, not too soft!

    So, thank you to Joy and others who recommended the 4 inch Walmart foam topper. It cost about $125.00, but that's much less than what I would have spent on a new mattress set. I know I will eventually have to buy a whole new bed, but this gives me time to save up some money and figure out what I really want/need. It also gives me a good night's sleep. Oh, and my cat likes it, too. :)))

    I think we all have to battle with our mattresses at some point with back problems. This board has been such a life-saver in providing help with this and with other problems!


  • I am glad you found something!!! I splurged and bought an adjustable memory foam (tempurpedic) set...it is AMAZING... if you are saving $$ for the future I would recommend an adjustable bed...it can raise your legs, or your head..whatever you need that day depending on your aches and pains!
  • Thanks for all the information everyone :)

    My husband has a very unpredictable back. Sometimes he'll pull it just by lifting a box of files out of his car, whereas other times he'll wrestle with our nephews for hours and be totally fine.

    We slept on a pillow top spring mattress while we were engaged, but decided to treat ourselves to a memory foam mattress as our own little wedding gift last March. We ended up buying a mattress from URL's Removed for just over $1000 (king size!!) and it is the BEST mattress either of us has ever slept on.

    Corey's back sometimes gets bad, but not nearly as often, and his recovery is much faster thanks to our Novosbed.

    This is a great alternative for those of you who don't want to break the bank by purchasing a Tempur-Pedic. In my opinion, there is no different between the Novosbed and Tempurpedic in terms of comfort and quality.

    Highly recommended for those with sensitive backs :)



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  • We have had a Sleep # bed for a number of years due to our extremely different levels of firmness comfort. Stormy likes 'hammock' level firmness, whereas I prefer 'concrete floor' softness. Given her current state of recovery, she's having trouble getting comfy in bed now, but until she is a bit more pain free it will be hard to say whether she needs to adjust firmness or what. I will say though, we've thoroughly enjoyed the bed (it's also really easy to move, as it breaks down into smaller components and I can load the King size mattress and foundation into a truck by myself), and I couldn't imagine going back to a regular mattress. I would say if you have someone else that sleeps with you regularly, and you both have different ideas on comfort, an adjustable firmness bed like this one is ideal.
  • Overstock.com used to have a RV X-long twin mattress, that was 4 levels of different thickness/firmness of memory foam - that might be a solution to adjust what works best for you, at least short term.
  • For our new RV, I took the queen XL standard mattress that comes with RV's out and put in the 3 section memory foam queen XL I got off of Overstock. Thanks to it, I can travel and sleep in our RV. I also got a twin XL for the bunk above the drivers cab. Love em!!! Since it's just my hubby and I, I did not replace the mattress in the fold out couch. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am the old true die hard of the water bed mattress. I know so many people are against them. I find mine to be a life saver :)
    I also have the newer ones with "tubes" so I can control how much wave ( none ) I want and the warmth really helps too.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Ms. Humpty,

    Years ago I flew for FedEx and once onboard, they put me up in a hotel for a month until I found a permanent place (turned into 2 since they needed me on runs that precluded me looking for a place). This hotel (I think a Hampton Inn?) had water beds, but with a topper mattress of sorts on top. I have to say, that was the MOST comfortable bed I've ever been in...well until I was in the Marriott a couple of years ago in DC - I felt like I was on a cloud there!

    Modern "straight" water beds that let you adjust the firmness or the wave activity, I can see getting one of those with spine issues. The old version (like 25 years plus) hehehe...very "anti" spine for sure!!


    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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