back pain and when it's time for a new mattress

By David J. BenEliyahu DC, DABCSP, DAAPM

Mattress Back Pain Blog photoMany people suffer from back pain due to herniated discs, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and sciatica. If you have any of these conditions, you might benefit from sleeping on your side in the ‘fetal’ position with a pillow between your legs. Alternatively, sleeping on your back with two pillows under your knees may provide relief as well…. On the other hand, you may just need a new mattress in order to improve you sleep and decrease your level of pain.

Here are some signs that you may need a new mattress:

  1. You wake up and your back is stiff, sore, or painful.
  2. You wake after sleeping without feeling refreshed.
  3. You toss and turn all night.
  4. Your mattress sags and appears lumpy.
  5. There is a lasting impression where you slept.
  6. Your box spring is creaky every time you move or turn in bed.
  7. You feel more rested and have less pain when you sleep on a different mattress.
  8. If you are older than 40 and your mattress is more than seven years old.

Personal preference and comfort level is the bottom line when selecting a mattress. However, when purchasing a new mattress it is important to be sure that you are not choosing one that is either too soft or too firm. In reviewing your options, keep in mind that optimal position when lying on your side on a mattress is your spine aligning parallel to the bed.

If purchasing a coil spring mattress, the greater the number of coils, and the thicker the “pillow-top,” the better the mattress. If you choose a latex or “memory foam” mattress, remember to take care not to select one that is either too firm or too soft.


David J. BenEliyahu, DC, DAAPM, DABCSP is the Administrative Director of the Back & Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital.