Back pain is a serious issue that a bad mattress only makes worse.
If you have chronic back pain or have had recent surgery, your old mattress might not be doing anything to help you.
Check out our complete guide to the best mattress for seniors with back pain to find the mattresses and mattress toppers that can help change your sleep life for the better!
What is a Mattress for Back Pain?
These products are mattresses designed specifically to treat back pain. Many times, you will see the word “Orthopedic” included in the title or description. This means that they’re made with the intention to be medically beneficial to people who have back pain, joint issues, or other concerns that make standard mattresses ineffective for quality sleep.
How Do They Work?
Mattresses for back pain are built using different layers of foam, often of different densities, to create a sleeping surface that gently cradles the body and evenly distributes weight. Since back pain while sleeping is caused or aggravated when undue pressure is placed on the back, these mattresses work to redistribute that pressure and balance it.
The result of a well-made orthopedic mattress is one that effectively reduces pressure on the back and spine, allowing the user to sleep comfortably, without tossing and turning. When you wake up on these mattresses, you won’t feel the same soreness or stiffness that you’ve likely been dealing with. Furthermore, you’ll get better sleep and feel refreshed and energized each day!
7 Best Mattresses for Seniors With Back Pain
Best Mattress for Back Pain (Overall): Sweetnight 10-Inch Medium-Firm Mattress
This mattress brings a unique combination of affordability and back pain relief. At less than $700 for a Queen, this model from Sweetnight is one of the best values on the market. It’s made from several different layers of foam, each helping it mold around the body while still being very supportive.
This mattress does an excellent job at the one thing that brings relief to pack pain: pressure redistribution. When you sleep on this mattress, your spine won’t be put at an awkward angle and your hips will be more aligned. It’s soft enough to cushion the lighter body parts but strong enough to hold up your core. The result is a mattress that responds appropriately to each part of the body and helps you sleep soundly through the night!
Best Mattress for Upper Back Pain: Zinus 10-Inch Cloud Mattress
Upper back pain is tricky. It isn’t usually caused by the mattress itself; more often, upper back pain is caused by injuries or tension in the muscles. Poor posture is a leading cause of upper back pain as well. This means that the mattress you choose doesn’t have much to do with whether or not you experience upper back pain- but it can have a lot to do with how it affects your sleep life.
The Zinus 10-inch Cloud mattress has a very soft upper layer of foam, which will be very helpful to people with upper back pain. That soft layer allows your upper back to relax its muscles and decompress; it also contributes to still sleeping- no more tossing and turning at night. Finally, you are able to sleep with better posture because the soft top layer (supported by a dense lower layer) lets you straighten out your body as you sleep.
When your body can unwind a bit and you don’t wake up in pain several times a night, it can naturally deal with tension and injuries that cause upper back pain. If you experience upper back pain throughout the day, the last thing you want is for it to continue through the night. A plush mattress like the Zinus Cloud is just what you need for peaceful, dreamy sleep each night!
Best Mattress for Shoulder and Neck Pain: Tuft & Needle Original
Tuft and Needle’s mattresses are very popular among people looking for the comfort of a high-end mattress brand without paying the premium price. Their Original mattress is very well-made and has the appropriate density to help alleviate neck and shoulder pain.
Similar to upper back pain, shoulder/neck pain is caused by poor posture and tension in the muscles. A good mattress for neck and shoulder pain should be soft enough that the muscles can relax but not so soft that it contributes to worse posture. For many people, ultra-soft mattresses actually make neck pain worse because they lack the support needed to keep the neck still while sleeping.
This mattress has the exact softness needed to create a gentle surface for the neck and shoulders that still provides accurate support. It’s also a very stable mattress, allowing the user to sleep still without constantly adjusting their sleeping position in the night. On top of that, it simply feels luxurious!
It is worth mentioning, though, that the pillows you use are a big factor in treating neck/shoulder pain as well. On top of that, getting an adjustable bed with a head-tilt feature can help stabilize your neck as you sleep. If you truly want to get the most benefit, you should combine a mattress like the Tuft & Needle Original with high-quality pillows and an adjustable bed base!
Best Mattress for Stomach Sleeper With Back Pain: Sealy Response Performance
Sealy is one of America’s top mattress producers for a reason- they deliver exceptional quality and back their products up with great warranties. The Response Performance is a very affordable model from Sealy’s Posturepedic line, developed with orthopedic specialists to ensure a night of great sleep for all sorts of people.
Stomach sleepers are presented with a unique challenge when it comes to back pain. Sleeping on your stomach puts your spine into a curved position that often concentrates in the lower back. This often means that stomach sleepers wake up feeling drowsy and experiencing sharp, shooting pains in their lower back.
The Sealy Response Performance is designed to accurately align your spine no matter what your sleeping position is. It effectively redistributes weight and pressure so that your spine isn’t bent backward as much. If you’re a stomach sleeper who experiences lower back pain, look for a Sealy Posturepedic mattress to help you sleep deeper and more comfortably!
Just like people with neck pain, stomach sleepers should look for pillows that are designed to accommodate their unique needs. Most pillows are too thick for stomach sleepers and make back pain even worse; a specially designed pillow like the I AM A Stomach Sleeper pillow can go a long way toward a better night of sleep!
Best Mattress for Scoliosis Back Pain: Nectar Lush Mattress
Scoliosis pain is tricky to treat because the curve in your spine doesn’t respond well to most mattresses. The Nectar Lush, however, is an ideal combination of ultra-soft foam (at the top) and dense, bouncy foam (at the bottom). This gives people with scoliosis a mattress that will help them feel comfortable and supported no matter what type of sleeper they are.
It can be hard, though, to say this mattress or any other is a truly great choice for scoliosis back pain. Because scoliosis affects each person a bit differently, a blanket recommendation might not work for everyone. That’s why the 1-year in-home trial that Nectar offers is so important! It allows people with scoliosis all the time they need to test and assess a mattress without the risk of getting stuck with it.
Best Tempur-Pedic Mattress for Back Pain: TEMPUR-Pro Adapt
Tempur-Pedic is a brand that specializes in back and joint pain, meaning it’s hard to go wrong with any of their mattresses. They’re like a “safe space” for people with back pain- any mattress you choose is bound to help. If we were forced to choose, though, the TEMPUR-Pro Adapt would take the cake.
This mattress is one of the most expensive mattresses around, so it’s not going to be an option for some people. For others, though, this mattress offers more than just luxury- it offers relief. If you’ve had an injury or surgery that’s left you feeling uncomfortable and exhausted in your current mattress, this might be the one for you.
There are multiple layers of foam that all work to make a mattress that is firm where it needs to be and soft everywhere else. Tempur-Pedic has long been the go-to source for luxurious and comfortable memory foam mattresses, and this model is no different. One quick note: it may be too hot for some sleepers, but it has a cooling gel that will help the majority of people sleep comfortably.
Best Casper Mattress for Back Pain: Casper Nova Hybrid
The Nova, from the incredibly popular “mattress-in-a-box” company Casper, provides excellent comfort and stability for anyone who has chronic back pain. Hybrid mattresses are among the most effective mattress types for back pain, and this model from Casper is an excellent example of a hybrid that delivers on its promises.
The best part of the Nova is that it has 7 different zones, each designed to accommodate and comfort a different part of the body. When it comes to spinal alignment, it’s very hard to compete with that kind of specific and targeted design. If you’re looking for a mattress that comes in a box and outperforms nearly any mattress that isn’t a Tempur-Pedic, this is it!
Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain
Best Mattress Topper for Lower Back Pain: Lucid 2-Inch Zoned Topper
Much like the Casper Nova, this mattress topper has different “zones” that are designed to specifically comfort and support different parts of the body. If you have lower back pain, you likely need a bit more support in that area of your mattress; this mattress topper does exactly that, and it’s made with cooling gel and very affordable!
Best Memory Foam Mattress Topper for Back Pain: Sleep Innovations Dual Layer Mattress Topper
The best memory foam mattresses use different layers of foam to achieve a good balance of support and softness; this mattress topper from Sleep Innovations does the same. If your mattress is too firm but you don’t want to feel like you’re being swallowed by the foam, this is the mattress topper for you!
The top layer is a very plush “pillowtop”-style cover that makes sleeping a luxurious, almost fluffy experience. The bottom layer is made of two inches of cooling gel memory foam. The result is a very comfortable mattress topper that any senior can use to help alleviate back pain without spending a fortune.
Best Latex Mattress Topper for Back Pain: Pure Green 3 Inch Mattress Topper
Most people think that finding a mattress topper that is softer than the mattress is the best way to go. While that may be true for many, back pain is tricky. This mattress topper is still soft, but it adds more firmness and support to your back than any other mattress topper. If you often feel like your mattress is swallowing you and your lower back is sore in the morning, this might be the mattress topper for you!
On top of being good for firm sleepers with back pain, this mattress topper is great at temperature regulation, organic, and hypoallergenic. These features are hard to find in any mattress topper that isn’t made of high-quality latex!
Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain (Side Sleepers): Bedsure Ergonomic Mattress Topper
For side sleepers, it’s all about aligning the spine. If your spine isn’t perfectly lined up, you’re going to have a tough time staying asleep at best and wake up sore and stiff at worst. This mattress topper from Bedsure is designed specifically to help people with back issues sleep better.
The ergonomic design is made by layering curved foam slabs on top of one another to form an “s-curve”. This curve is specifically made for side sleepers and helps keep their spines in perfect alignment as they sleep. If you’re a side sleeper who just can’t get comfortable, this mattress topper from Bedsure might be ideal for you!
Buying Guide: What Kind of Mattress is Best for Lower Back Pain?
What Firmness of Mattress is Best for Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is caused by a variety of different factors, but mattresses that are too firm or too soft can often be to blame. The reason for this is that they concentrate pressure on the lower back, putting strain on the spine that results in uncomfortable, painful sleep.
The best mattresses for lower back pain, for most people, will be medium-plush mattresses. They’re a little bit on the softer side, which helps you relax and decompress, but not soft enough that your spine isn’t supported. If you suffer from lower back pain, consider getting a medium-plush mattress to help you sleep through the night.
What is the Best Mattress Brand for Back Pain?
Tempur-Pedic, although expensive, has years of expertise and engineering that makes their mattresses better than any other for people with back pain. Sealy’s Posturepedic line is a close second, but it’s very hard to beat the comfort and performance of a Tempur-Pedic mattress!
Although that may be true, the best mattress for your specific back pain is the one that feels the best when you use it. The only way to know if a mattress is good for you is to try it out and see if it performs well with your needs.
How to Choose a Mattress for Back Pain
Your Experience Matters
The best way to judge whether a mattress is a good fit or not is the way it feels. When you have a pleasant response to a mattress, it’s like a thumbs-up from your body. So, do your best to research the best mattress in your budget and compare different features, but trust your instincts when you physically test a mattress to make sure it actually works for you!
Take Advantage of Trials
Most mattress brands offer an in-home trial that lasts between 30 days and 1 year. If you don’t like your mattress, you can return it at any point during the trial, no questions asked. Since it’s hard to know whether or not a mattress is right for you unless you try it out, you should take advantage of this offer when you have the chance.
If you aren’t 100% confident in a mattress you’re considering, check to see what type of trial period it offers. If you get a 100-night trial, there is little risk in trying it out for a few weeks. If it doesn’t work, the only thing you’ve lost is time- not money!
FAQs: How to Know if Mattress is Causing Back Pain
Can a Sagging Mattress Cause Back Pain?
Sagging mattresses and other mattress defects are a major cause of discomfort and back pain while sleeping. Sagging mattresses make your spine bend at a weird angle, which results in restless sleep and back pain. If your mattress has begun to sag, especially where your torso lies, you should consider replacing it as soon as you can.
Can an Air Mattress Cause Back Pain?
While most air mattresses (by this we mean true alternating pressure mattresses and luxury mattresses like Sleep Number) will do more to help back pain than cause it, the reality is that the wrong mattress hurts your back no matter what it is. If you got an air mattress for your bedroom or for a hospital bed but are now experiencing back pain, the mattress might be to blame.
Before you replace your air mattress, however, you should experiment with the firmness settings. Often, you can avoid replacing your mattress by putting some time into trying out which of the different settings actually works for your body!
New Mattress Causing Back Pain - How to Fix It
If your brand-new mattress isn’t working, you have three options:
- 1Wait: it can take a bit of time for your new mattress to feel “broken in”. It can also take a few nights of sleep before your body is adjusted to the new surface. Sometimes, by simply giving it another week or two, you’ll find that time was all you needed!
- 2Return: most mattresses have a trial period that lasts between 30 and 100 days. If your mattress just isn’t working, and you haven’t gone past that time period yet, go get your money back! When a mattress is simply a bad fit, the most sensible thing to do is return or exchange it.
- 3Add a Mattress Topper: If your mattress is almost right for you but not quite ideal, going through the returns process is an unnecessary hassle. All you need is a good mattress topper that will add a bit of support, softness, or both!
Mattress Too Firm Back Pain - How to Fix It
The best way to solve back pain being caused by a firm mattress is by getting a soft memory foam mattress topper. 2-3 inches of memory foam can make a world of difference in terms of comfort, without forcing you to spend a fortune on a new mattress!
When a firm mattress is causing back pain, it’s because there isn’t enough soft foam to cradle the lighter parts of your body. A simple mattress topper will add that cradling needed to keep the entire body comfortable!
Do Mattress Toppers Help Back Pain?
Mattress toppers can do a lot of things, including help treat back pain. But, it’s not always as simple as buying a nice mattress topper and tossing it on your existing mattress. If your current mattress is old and deteriorated, there isn’t a mattress topper on earth that can solve its problems.
If you have an old, sagging mattress, you will need to replace it rather than add a mattress topper. It’s a bit like adding salt and pepper to a very bad meal- it might cover it up a little bit, but the bad things haven’t gone anywhere!
Is Your Memory Foam Mattress Causing Back Pain?
Memory foam mattresses are great for many users, but they can be the exact opposite of what some people need. For people who are heavier or who have lower back issues, the extreme softness of memory foam mattresses can be a real problem.
Memory foam mattresses are, for the most part, the softest mattress type. This means there isn’t much going on inside the mattress to support the heavier parts of the body, although they are perfect for the lighter parts of the body. If you’ve been waking up sore and stiff while using a memory foam mattress, it might be wise to switch to a hybrid or innerspring mattress. That way, you get the support your body has been missing!
Conclusion: Mattresses for Back Pain
Back pain, especially lower back pain, affects millions of seniors in the US alone. Back pain, combined with a poor mattress, is a recipe for disaster. However, by upgrading to a new mattress or mattress topper that truly meets your body’s needs, you can experience peaceful, dreamy sleep despite chronic back pain! Which mattress on our list do you think you’ll be going with? Let us know in the comments section below!