Patients coming for Physical Therapy with back and/or neck pain often ask us about what type of mattress is most beneficial to reduce their pain. Unfortunately, there is no quick answer to these questions.
Very little research has been done on the effect of mattress type or level of firmness on neck and back pain. Physical therapists often make recommendations about sleeping surfaces based on the theory that it is best to keep the spine in a neutral or straight position throughout the night. In order to accomplish this, the mattress should support the body contours and allow the spine to be in horizontal alignment with the mattress, which may make a memory foam mattress a good choice in some cases.
Many patients believe that a firm mattress is required. However, one study found that a medium-firm sleeping surface was more effective than a firm surface in reducing back pain. Sometimes the best solution is to go to a reputable store and lie on the mattress to determne the most comfortable mattress for yourself.
A physical therapist can evaluate the cause of your neck and/or back pain and make mattress recommendations based on their findings. Working with a physical therapist may be helpful in finding the best mattress type and firmness for your individual situation and help you to get longer, pain-free sleep.