Choosing a Mattress for Back Support and Sleep Comfort Part IV

Mattress toppers bring me some pain relief

Since I have had an instrumented Fusion from S5-L2 and also DDD in the cervical spine, I have been experimenting with Mattresses and Toppers as well as Pillows to try and get a fairly decent and painfree Sleep. So far I have found that a Memory Foam Mattress, with a 2 in. Thick Memory Foam Toppers as well as an Intelli Bed" topper seems to work best for me. This may,of course, change.

From: Rosarian – Alberta, Canada

Temperpedic does not help my back pain

I've had back pain for over 6 years from two car accidents. No major surgery, YET. I have used a firm PosturePedic at home since 2004, with moderate results. Since moving in with my girlfirend, we purchased a Temperpedic King Size mattress, and spent about $3,400. My girlfriend has never had back problems, and wakes up in pain. I found it comfortable when first lying down, but when I wake up, I'm in more pain than if I had fallen asleep on a lumpy loveseat. FOR US, it has been awful, and it's going back (have used it 3 weeks). It's so bad, when I wake up - I have to immediately get out of bed, or at least sit up; too painful to lay there. Slept in a hotel lately, and wish I knew what mattress they used, it was BY FAR, the best I've ever felt waking up. I'm looking into it, and will post the brand if I can find it. Save your money, Temperpedic, even top of the line, was NOT the answer - and made it worse. Good luck.

From: Anonymous – New York, USA

Article continues below
Get help with pressure mapping if buying a Select Comfort

I am a fan of the sleep number beds by select comfort. I feel bad that some people have had a bad experience. This bed helps many - there is not a bed that cures pain. This bed is for almost every back. If you are having problems go into a select comfort store for assistance with pressure mapping. I bought my bed from a mattress store. They weren't very knowledgeable on the product. The people at the real select comfort store treated me as if I was their customer. I had problems at first but now it's the best for me and my husband. Select comfort lets you try it for 30 days or your money back. Make sure you get enough pillow top. Happy Sleep.

From: J. Law – Texas, USA

Best mattress ever keeps my back pain under control

My back changed, and my bed has, too. A bad neck, stenosis at L-3,4,5 and S1. Not to mention two bulging discs. I loved the waterbed years ago, and found comfort from the very early Select Comfort until it sagged. The new ones are MUCH better. But, I now have my BEST bed ever: It's several inches of latex with memory foam on top. Lots of support with the cushion of memory foam; and no turning of course. Mine was purchased from a back store and called the Paradise Bed. Sweet Dreams.

From: painedin – Washington DC, USA

Mattresses are not just for sleeping

Body types are different and it's difficult to test a mattress in the 30 days they give you. My husband and I are thin and lightweight, not "big" people, so in general, most mattresses are heavy duty. Our Sealy Posturpedic after 4 years is causing lower back pain for us, if only a bit. One thing to ask yourself is how much abuse has the center of the bed taken from 2 adults having sex on it? That's a lot of use and likely where the mattress begins to show wear. Beds are not guaranteed 10 years just for sleeping - they also need to take the weight of people having sex.

From: Elsa - Massachusetts, USA

My heated water bed brings me the most back pain relief

I have had 2 back surgeries with little relief. I've had air mattresses, pillow tops, and last Thurepic and still lot of severe pain. Finally I went back to my free-flow water bed with the heat set at 85 and get up in the mornings with less pain then I have had in 6 years. Every Dr. I've spoken to say they are not good for the back but I have to differ with them cause mine is great and it didn't cost $2,700 and lots of pain.

From: Rhonda – Missouri, USA

Can't imagine being without my Tempur-pedic mattress

Owner of a true Tempur-pedic matress and could not live without it. Everyone I know that owns one loves it. I’ve had one for 8 years now and would pay any amount for it. I have herniated discs in my L5-S1 and L4. I’ve had these for 12 years now and just had a microdiscetomy. The bed is the only great relief I get and I always have a great night’s sleep. I tell people who buy one to sleep on it a couple of weeks before you decide on it. When I got it, my wife and I thought it was too stiff and couldn’t get used to it. Now we both could not do without it. Also the pillows are hard to get used to, but after a while you’ll love them. But one thing you must know buy a real Tempur-pedic not a generic one. It does make a difference. You can not beat the trial and the warranty. You won’t have to pay sales tax if you buy through a Chiropractor. Good luck.

From: Michael

Adjustable air bed brings better sleep for me and my husband

I have chronic back pain, a fused L5/S1, etc. My husband has shoulder/back woes too. We bought a Tempurpedic which was okay at first but after 2 years was causing us more pain in the morning. The thing is, you get used to the "no motion" aspect so we couldn't go back to a regular mattress. If you are interested in an adjustable air bed, check online. They are way cheaper than the Select Comfort because they don't have the expense of stores and the customer service of the site we used is GREAT! This sleep better bed was only $1,100 for the Eastern King mattress set (you get two) and frame (we used our existing box springs and topped the mattresses with a wool topper. It was EASY to set up--no tools! So far so great--separate remotes means his side is a 40 (soft), mine is a 70 (firm) and I don't get "rocked" awake when he leaves for work. I totally recommend this product.

From: Kim Brown

Memory foam mattress aggravates fibromyalgia pain and leg pain

Memory Foam is not that good. Some months ago I purchased an expensive Tempurpedic memory foam and a Sealy mattress also- foam. My wife has fibromyalgia and a problem with her hip and I have some back pain at times. Now both our pains are much worse than ever before since we got these. The longer I remain in the bed the more stiffer I become and the more pain I have throughout my body-not just my back but my legs too. I think these were both bad investments. It seems that foam is not the answer for good and painless sleeping. A class action suit should be taken against these companies that advertise that it will help back pain. Don't make the same mistake that I did.

From: Charles & Phyllis – New Jersey, USA

Make sure your mattress can be returned

Mattresses are made to meet a price at various stores. A branded mattress of a particular type can vary from store to store. Most have a model name and if you investigate you will find than no two stores carry the same model. The exception is with chain stores such as WalMart. Even then one batch may differ from the next as materials may not be available so alternatives are used. The bottom line here is when buying a mattress or bed get some form of guarantee that the bed can be returned within a time frame if it does not suit. Also return it if it does not meet the standard claimed by the manufacturer. Some stores/manufacturers do have a good return policy.

From: Kevin - Australia

Tempurpedic mattress a disappointment at home

I recently purchased a queen Tempurpedic Supreme mattress. When I tried it in the store I felt my body was weightless and thought that it was an answer to prayer. The first night I was very restless and couldn't get comfortable. After the second restless night I awoke with mid-low back pain the next morning I knew I was in trouble! I placed my memory foam topper and thought that it would help. After the fourth night, I gave up and have been sleeping in my guest bedroom on my old mattress until they can pick it up. I am considering a Select Comfort but am not sure it will be the right choice either based off some of the comments I've read...this is such a confusing process!!!

From: Fran – North Carolina, USA

New pillowtop mattress does not help back pain

We replaced our 14 year old queen sized Sealy Posturepedic plush pillowtop bed with a King sized Simmons Beautyrest plush pillowtop bed 6 months ago. That was really the last time I got any decent sleep. The bed is too stiff, my hips now hurt in the middle of the night, the memory foam retains body heat, and the body contours remain in the bed giving a rather disconcerting sensation. I HATE this bed. We've been cautioned about Tempurpedics, but do NOT know what to purchase next. This was an expensive "mistake"... the store advised us to wait for the newer latex top models coming out in March.

From: Judy – Northern California, USA

Stick with the mattress that feels right

I am a 56 year old male, with a spinal fusion dating back 37 years. I have thus dealt with my back for a long time ;-)

After having owned and been perfectly happy with a first generation Tempurpedic for 16 years, we decided to change to a traditional mattress. We found a very high end manufacturer, European Sleepworks, and spent a few hours testing combinations of topping, spring and base sets. We settled on one and a month later it was delivered. It is a splendid bed, made to the highest levels of quality and the people were great.

Three months later, after therapy and an MRI to try to diagnose what the heck was wrong, a light went on. We both were hurting after a month or so. We were baffled. What had changed? THE BED HAD CHANGED.

We had a Tempurpedic Classic delivered the next week. Neither one of us moved that first night and I felt like a 25 year old the next morning. No pain. Our guest bedroom now has a very high end bed! And we sleep on the memory foam.

The moral of the story? TRY UNTIL YOU FIND THE RIGHT BED. It may be the most simple solution you can find. My heartfelt sympathies to all of you.

From: Chmod – California, USA

Sleep Number bed is the only one that relieves my back pain

I have owned a Sleep Number bed for 5 years - tried water beds, coil, this is the only peace I get. Have had back problems for years; my husband doesn't care for it like I do. We even tried the plywood under the mattress but only the air bed lets me sleep. Also prolotherapy.

From: Anonymous

New leg pain with Tempurpedic mattress

We bought a Tempurpedic mattress a few months ago to replace very old mattress. Chose it because of its advertised reputation for relieving back pain which was an issue for both of us. Seemed to sleep better the first night, but since then we both have experienced nightly problems with severe leg and ankle pain. My ankle cramps badly enough several times a night to wake me up. When I try to stand up it takes several seconds or more for the ankle joint to uncramp so I can walk. My husband's legs hurt badly each morning. When we travel and sleep on other mattresses the pain and cramping do not occur. So, no significant relief from back pain with this mattress brand, and big new pains.

From: Sigrid – Colorado, USA

Regular mattress replacement eases pain from herniated discs

I have several herniated discs and my chiropractor recommended a new bed. My old one was 14 yrs. old. He told me what others here have said, such as making sure there is at least a 30 day comfort guarantee. He also told me that no matter how long the mattress is guaranteed for, they only last for 7 years, max. My mattress has a 20 year guarantee and the store replaces it from the store for 10 years so I will be getting a new one in about 7-8 years from now. He also said that the bed is one piece of furniture that is used on a daily basis and if you have kids, well, you know all about the jumping on beds that they do! My bed is a store brand but they have been in business for over 100 years and have several branches here in Georgia so I am not worried. Make sure to purchase your new bed from a reputable dealer!

From: Cheryl O. – Georgia, USA

New mattress is worse than the old mattress for back pain

Ever since I bought Tempurpedic mattress I have been getting back pain as it sags at the center. They exchanged it saying the current ones are better. I find the newer one is worse than the previous one. There is 2 in. indentation within 3 weeks.

From: Anonymous

Sleep number bed retains heat and prevents sleep comfort

To anyone considering buying a sleep number bed : beware! It is a glorified air mattress and no better. I would have been more comfortable putting a basic old air mattress on the floor with a featherbed on top! For some reason, it does not disperse my body heat, and within an hour even during the winter I wake up overheated and drenched in sweat. I had to switch back to a regular mattress with a feather bed to add some cush and it was all better. Really - don't waste your money! It comes in 6 boxes and takes a whole day to assemble, so if and when you decide to send it back, you decide the effort to take it all apart and cost in shipping it back isn't worth it, but then you are stuck with the worst bed ever! Don't make the same mistake I did!

From: Sara – Wisconsin, USA

Tempur-pedic mattress is too firm for my back

I bought a Classic Tempur-pedic mattress about a year ago. For the first few months, I enjoyed the mattress, but ever since then. I have had constant back pain. When I called to complain, they told me to sleep on the Swedish pillow on the lower-end side instead of the high-curved side. This just changed the position of the pain from my upper back to my lower back. My back pain seems to be getting worse. I think the mattress is too firm for me. I have recently developed pains on my outer thighs also. I consider this mattress a waste of $2,000. If you purchase this mattress, take the full three trial months to try out this mattress. If you experience any pains at all close to the end of the three-month period, send the mattress back before it's too late.

From: Nellee - New York, USA

Tempur-pedic mattress increases back pain in my spouse

I recently purchased a Tempur-pedic deluxe mattress mainly to decrease partner disturbance and to help me sleep. I have had a total hip replacement but did NOT suffer from back pain. Neither did my spouse. Now, he has horrible back pain upon awakening, and I have a strange groin pain upon arising that cannot be explained. They all go away when we do not use the bed. So now we sleep soundly but wake up in pain! The Tempur-pedic is going up for sale and we are looking at new mattresses. I am sure it is great for some folks but not for us!!

From: Jane – Massachusetts, USA

Adjustable beds provide sleep comfort for me and my spouse

Find your local mattress manufacturer and buy an adjustable bed. You can get a queen if your spouse doesn't mind sleeping with head and or knees in the air! My husband and I purchased two twin XL adjustable beds from our local retailer. The beds adjust (head and foot move up and down) and also have massage.

Before we bought the beds, I spent most nights sleeping a couple of hours on the couch. Now I actually sleep for about 5 hours. I keep the remote in my hand as I go to sleep and when I wake up with pain in back, I raise or lower my head and/or feet.

We went with the mid-grade mattress. It is made of rubber (no allergy issues) and is very comfortable. This was the best pain relief purchase I have made in over six years of debilitating pain.

If you get the two twins, don't spend time searching for twin XL sheets. Use queen sized fitted sheets and king sized flat sheets. We found that the twin XL sheets don't stay on the mattress well if you adjust the bed frequently.

The bed was expensive (two beds, mattresses, and wicking mattress topper ran about $4,500). That's a lot of cash for a bed with no headboard, but it is well worth every penny. Another hint - we went with the bed model that had loose remotes. Get the model with the remotes connected - you will not have to hunt around for the remote in the dark.

From: Amy – Tennessee, USA

Plywood support under the mattress gives better sleep comfort

A futon 3" pad works great for me. On a regular mattress and box spring I have taken a 4' x 8' x 1/4" sheet of a-c fir plywood - At Home Depot they will cut it to it your length. Go home and put it in between the mattress and box spring. You will be surprised how good this works. SWEET DREAMS...

From: Rich Feeney – Alaska, USA

Popular mattresses did not help back pain

I have owned both a Tempurpedic and a top of the line Sterns &
Foster firm mattress. Both gave some relief from back pain for
a number of months then the pain returned.

From: Jay Weemhoff - North Carolina, USA

DUX bed brings pain relief through increased spring density

The DUX bed has cured both my and my wife’s chronic morning back pain. It took me about 2 weeks to get used to it at first, but I really miss it when I travel for business and get a hotel mattress. Some nights I would rather sleep on the lounge chair. I recently have had nerve pain from an L5 injury. When I wake up in the morning the pain is gone and I can walk normally for the first hour. I also have Sever sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine. Since we bought our DUX bed and down pillows I know longer need the machine to get a good night’s sleep. Our bed has I think 4800 springs! About 5 times the normal bed.

From: Mike – Washington, USA

Store assistant helped me find the best mattress for my back pain

I have tried mattress toppers and found they were of no use to me as I still woke up in the morning feeling very stiff. We have now bought a new bed with a memory foam mattress after trying many different beds in the store, all of which caused me pain within seconds of laying on them. After speaking to the store assistant who also suffers from back pain she advised a sprung base divan with a medium memory foam mattress. I took her advice and I am so glad I did. After three weeks with this bed my morning stiffness has all but gone and I am sleeping much better. Evidently it was the solid base that was causing me more problems. Thank heavens for store assistants who know what they are talking about.

From: Irene – England, UK

My Sleep Number bed has a rubbery smell

I have a sleep number bed and it has helped with body pain. However the bed has an old rubber tire smell coming from the air chambers and it permeates the entire bed and bedding. Customer service has replaced various parts and I have tried the dryer sheets route which just puts a layer of perfume over the rubber smell. I also have aired the various components for at least 6 weeks. Nothing has changed.

From: Beverly - Illinois, USA

I'm glad I listened to my mother to get better sleep

I have had severe back pain for almost three years. I had a lumbar fusion on L4/L5 about two years ago with some relief, but I still have pain in my lower back that also radiates down my legs. I also have severe pain in my thoracic area which also contributes to my lack of sleep. For the last three years sleep has been extremely difficult, if not impossible without heavily medicating myself. I recently took the advice of my persistent mother, and bought myself a Sleep Number bed. Amazing. I've had if for about a month now, and I have noticed an incredible difference. I was very hesitant, because as all back pain sufferers know, it is very hard to find anything that helps. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone, including back pain sufferers and those with Fibromyalgia (which I also have). I am very glad I took my mother's advice this time!!!!!

From: KG - Wisconsin, USA

Some support cushions are too good to be true

Forget the buckwheat pillows-waste of money unless you like chasing your pillow around the bed all night - since it's seeds it doesn't stay in any one place. The 5" memory foam topper is pancake thin in less then 2 years. Don't believe everything you read. If it sounds to good to be true it probably is....

From: Cindy - North Carolina, USA

Flipping my mattress gave me greater back support

Have lower back pain and leg cramps, bought a Tempurpedic mattress which increased the back pain. Upon wakening felt stiff, neck pain, lower back pain. I needed a firm mattress. I looked into mattress toppers to no avail, but found a foam and fabric store. The salesman told me to flip the mattress as the bottom core is much firmer. I had never thought of this alternative. So we flipped the mattress and found the bottom side to be much firmer. I added a dense foam pad on top, covered this with a mattress cover. Much much better for my back.

From: Shirleyle – Arizona, USA

The couch has been most comfortable sleep option for our back pain

We spent thousands on beds. We have a pillow top mattress that we spent $1,100 on. My husband and I were waking up with so much pain that we had to spend 30 minutes rocking out of bed because of the pain. We then bought an $1,100 memory foam mattress. Same amount of pain. We then bought a four inch memory foam topper. Same amount of pain. We bought two more inches of memory foam toppers. Same pain. We now both sleep on our couches because it's the only way to wake as pain-free as possible. I was thinking about buying a sleep number bed until I read these comments. Now we'll just get a waterbed.

From: Dorothy B – North Carolina, USA

Sleep Number was a great choice for my back problems

Sleep Number bed works for us. I've had back problems for over 20 years. My wife slept on a firm mattress so I would be more comfortable. We finally purchased a Sleep Number bed. We both love it and wouldn't trade it for anything. We love being able to adjust the firmness/softness as needed. We wished we hadn't waited so long to make the purchase. It's been 3 years and we don't regret it. We get a great nights sleep and I wake up with minimal or no discomfort.

From: Bill - New York, USA

StearnsFoster Natural Foam helped me through my back surgery

I did a lot of homework before mattress shopping and it paid off. I recovered from 5 back surgeries on our guest bed, a 35yr old SternsFoster Natural Foam, good as new. Our SimmonsBeautyRest didn't hold up - back pain every morning waking up. I slept better on the couch, so I went back to sleeping on the SternsFoster again w/o any pain. SternsFoster makes Sealy so their Latex or Natural foam is what we wanted. They come in four firmnesses. Found Sealy Venice Beach Ultra plush best for my back, Spring Free collection too hard for me and it had pillow tops I didn't want. It's part of the Reflections collection, all natural foam (vs latex) to be discontinued end of 2006. It's perfect for me, no more pain from mattress. Even my husband woke up feeling refreshed. Don't confuse foam with "memory foam" Tempurpedic type beds, totally different, IMO mostly bad for people with back problems. Most shy away from foam as unsupportive and won't last, NOT so. I think they're the best kept secret. Pillow tops can be deceiving, can break down in 1-2yrs, become lumpy, exposing cheap uncomfortable mattresses underneath. Almost every salesperson knew less than I did, and many made up answers which you won't know if you don't do your homework first. Invest in the very thin waterproof warranty mattress covers they sell, your mattress warranty is void if it has even one stain on it. Mattresses can't fix back problems but they can cause them. There's nothing harder to shop for - I'd rather have a root canal.

From: Casey - Delaware, USA

Sealy True Form gives great low back support

I recently bought a Sealy True Form 11-Series. I've had it a week and it's been pretty nice. It just so happens I had a flare-up and the support in my lower back from the bed is great. I've NEVER slept so well while having a flare-up in pain.

Another nice thing is there are almost no pressure points. Cheaper beds I've tried were very hot from body heat.

Overall I'm happy so far and have a 90 day money back gurantee. I recommend buying locally with some type of trial. Also I talk to the sales man about my back problem and he ended up giving me his "family discount" of 40% off. I lucked out, but you too should tell them why you are looking for such an expensive bed.

From: emChronic - Colorado, USA

My camping pad is better than my mattress

After my second surgery and having my L4 L5 fused, I decided to invest in a good bed. I went to Intellibed in Salt Lake City. They are good salesmen and have different beds set up to show you how much more pressure you are getting on those beds compared to theirs. We forked out about $1,800 and felt good about it. He even threw in one of their pillows. They use this gel on top that is supposed to help relieve pain (they say up to 80%). After a couple of months I was waking up in extreme pain and could feel this canyon sized gap in the bed, right where my lower back rests. They replaced it. Second bed, same problem. Third bed they said wouldn't have this problem because the gel is one piece (not two). I still wake up several times in the night because of back pain and even though I bought a "firm" model, something is not right. I hate the bed and am going to buy something else. After a few months on the third bed, the corners seem to be sagging and there is a piece of metal poking out. The rep said that it's not an issue. Duh!! Horrible for my lower back and would never recommend their beds to anyone. My $60 thermarest (camping pad)is more comfortable (less pain) than my bed.

From: Mike - Utah, USA

Select Comfort did not help my back pain

I used a Select Comfort mattress for almost a year. It was awful. Even though I tried a range of numbers from 70 (hardish) to 25 (soft), it didn't help. I still woke up with back pain!

From: Reilly - Florida, USA

A mattress topper may be the right choice for my low back pain

We purchased a queen size Tempurpedic mattress a few months ago that initially felt like it contoured to all my muscles and felt good to lay on it. I started waking up with the most incredible joint pain (shoulder, back, arm, neck, leg cramps). It took a few hours of exercise in the mornings, pain pills for me to feel like a "normal person". I didn't exactly attribute this to the mattress but after visiting my daughter who has in her guest room a firm mattress with pillow overlay, my aches and pains have diminished. I have had lower back problems in the past and will get this checked out with my doctor. I am now looking into firm mattress toppers.

From: Shirleyle


Communicate with others about mattress, pillow, and sleep tips.


* Note: This page expresses the experiences and opinions of patients, not doctors. The Back-to-Back forum is provided because we think people often have very practical advice and insights to share that can benefit other patients who have similar back problems. This section has not been peer reviewed by our Medical Advisory Board, and is provided for your informational purposes only.

If you have questions about your specific condition or treatment approach, please go through this site to read peer-reviewed health information about spinal conditions, diagnosis and treatment options. The quickest way to locate information on the site is to use the “keyword search” located in the upper left hand corner of each page. Also, if you want to talk online with others who may be in a similar situation, please go to the Message Board.

Pages: