Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

What Mattress Type Is Best For Back Pain Sufferers?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, July 24, 2008

What type of mattress is recommend for patients with low-back pain (LBP)? Despite popular belief that firm mattresses are best, and research showing that most doctors recommend firm varieties, medium-firm mattresses are actually more back-friendly, say researchers in the Lancet medical journal.

Dr. Francisco Kovacs and colleagues in Spain replaced the mattresses of 313 adults suffering from chronic non-specific low-back pain. The volunteers were given either a firm mattress (rated 2.3 on a European scale of mattress firmness) or a medium-firm mattress (rated 5.6). Individuals were unaware of the mattress type provided.

After 90 days, compared with patients given firm mattresses, those who used medium-firm varieties were twice as likely to report improvements in LBP while lying in bed and when rising from bed. In addition, they reported decreased disability and use of pain medication. Dr. Kovacs comments: “Our findings stress that recommendations for daily living, such as what kind of mattress to use, may have a relevant effect on the clinical course of low-back pain.”

The Lancet – November 15, 2003;362:1599-604.

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