If you struggle with back pain, you’re not alone. A whopping 80 percent of American adults experience low back pain during their life. If you’re a family of 5, this means that 4 of you will suffer from this at one point or another. One of the ways to help yourself and your loved ones is to make sure you’re sleeping on a surface that is good for your back. That’s where mattress toppers come in. Read on to find out more about what causes it, how to prevent it, how to pick the right mattress topper and find our selection of best mattress topper for back pain.
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What Causes Back Pain
Back pain used to be associated with older people but times have changed. Younger people start getting their first taste of this in their 20s and 30s, sometimes even in their teens. Although back pain can occur in different parts of the back, we will focus on low back pain specifically. That’s simply where most back pain occurs.
Let’s first take a look at the structures that make up the lower back, or the lumbar spine. It contains 5 vertebral bones labeled L1 to L5, which largely support the weight of the upper body. Between each vertebra is a disc. These are the intervertebral discs. They’re like rubbery bands that provide cushioning for the vertebra, as the body moves. Facet joints are connected to the vertebra at the back of the spine. They provide stability and allow movement in different directions. Ligaments are bands of tissue that hold the vertebra in place and tendons attach muscles to the spine. There are also 5 pairs of spinal nerves in that area: L1 to L5, like the vertebrae.
We need to understand the anatomy of the lumbar spine in order to explain a number of the causes of lower back pain. These are mechanical causes.
Sprains And Strains
Both sprains and strains are injuries, but they afflict different parts of the body. Sprains are injuries to ligaments. When they happen, one or more ligaments are torn or stretched. Strains affect muscles and tendons, which are stretched or torn.
Problems with Intervertebral Discs
As part of the normal aging process, intervertebral discs lose their integrity. They deteriorate, become less rubbery and lose their cushioning ability. Another problem that can occur with discs is herniation and rupture. When the discs become compressed, they bulge outward (herniate) or even rupture.
Other Mechanical Causes
Spondylosis is often associated to lower back pain. It refers to the general degeneration of the spine as people get older. It’s the normal wear and tear of the bones, joints and discs of the lumbar spine.
Radiculopathy affects people whose spinal nerve root is compressed, inflamed, or injured.
Skeletal irregularities are anomalies of the spine that people are born with. This includes scoliosis, where the spine is curved to the side. Luckily, it does not usually cause pain until the person reaches middle age. Lordosis is another irregularity, but this time the arch of the lower back is abnormally accentuated. Kyphosis is better known as a hunchback – an excessive outward curvature of the spine.
Non-Mechanical Causes of Back Pain
Although most back pain causes are mechanical, there can be other reasons why we might experience pain in that region.
A more common underlying condition that causes low back pain is an inflammatory joint disease, such as arthritis or spondylitis. If you have osteoporosis, your bone density and strength decrease and this can also lead to back pain. Other underlying conditions include endometriosis, which means that uterine tissue builds up outside of the uterus, and fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome.
Some underlying conditions are rare, but but require immediate medical attention. For example, infections in the vertebrae, tumors in the lower back, kidney stones, abdominal aortic aneurysm.
How to Prevent Back Pain
There is actually a lot that we can do ourselves, in order to keep back pains away. Not entirely, as our bodies will inevitably age. But they will at least help postpone these aches and keep us pain free for a longer time.
Keep yourself active. Regular exercise is one of the universal remedies that helps keep us healthy in so many different ways. You don’t need to go crazy with fitness, don’t worry. Even 30 minutes of speed walking, swimming or stationary bike riding can help increase muscle strength and flexibility. Remember to always stretch before exercising!
Remember to keep good posture. Keep your back straight when you stand or sit. Bad posture often results in the spine having to carry a lot of extra weight.
Lift things properly. When it comes to lifting objects, don’t go for things that are too heavy for you. But when you do lift, don’t lift with your back. Do so from the knees, pull in your stomach muscles and keep your head in line with a straight back, to make sure you don’t twist.
Keep an eye on your diet. Extra weight, especially around the midline, will tax your lower back muscles. Make sure you also get plenty of calcium and vitamin D, which helps new bone growth.
Get proper support during sleep. Make sure that your time spent in bed is also good for your spine. This means sleeping on a surface that keeps your spine straight. Whether you have a mattress, or additional mattress topper on top of one, it should be firm.
What Is A Mattress Topper
A mattress topper is a piece of removable bedding that sits on top of a mattress. In a way, it’s like a smaller mattress above your actual mattress. You might one day discover that your mattress has lost its original qualities. Like everything else, they also tire with age. Or maybe you realize that the mattress you once had no longer suits you. This is where a good mattress topper can be a real life saver.
Let’s quickly clear up something that a lot of websites get wrong. Mattress toppers and mattress pads are not the same thing. Mattress pads are usually quite thin. They help protect the mattress from liquids, help regulated temperature, or help people with allergies. But mattress toppers are somewhat different. They’re thicker and compensate for the shortcomings of the mattress. With a good topper you can actually adjust the comfort, softness or firmness, support and luxury of your bed.
Using the right mattress topper can help alleviate low back pain. If your mattress does not give you the support you need, or is not firm enough, you may not need to replace the who mattress. This can be very expensive. Instead, let us help you find the best mattress topper for back pain. The right topper can really do wonders for you.
How to Pick A Mattress Topper
Mattress toppers come in very many shapes and sizes. But if you need the best mattress topper for lower back pain, there are certain things you should consider first. Let’s narrow this down a bit.
Let’s keep it short and sweet. If you suffer from lower back pain, you need a memory foam or latex mattress topper. Both materials conform to your body and are able to give it proper support. So forget the soft mattress toppers filled with wool or down and go for latex or memory foam instead. Lucky for you, these are also the most popular mattress topper materials. They’re widely available, but of course they’re not all good quality, so be mindful of their different aspects.
The thickness of mattress toppers can vary from 1 to 7 inches. Most toppers are in the 2-4″ range, for a good reason. Anything less is probably too thin and anything more will most likely ramp up the price, without giving you any extra benefit.
We can’t talk about thickness without knowing what the material is. A 3″ memory foam mattress topper has a very different feel than a 3″ wool mattress topper. As we already established, the best mattress topper for lower back pain is made from latex or memory foam. So the below thickness overviews are related to these materials.
A 2″ mattress topper will best suit you if you have a smaller frame. This means you don’t need that much support to begin with.
A 3″ topper is usually the sweet spot for most people. It’s the golden pathway that has the best of both worlds – comfort and support. It’s especially good for back sleepers.
A 4″ topper is your best bet if you’re plus size or prefer sleeping on your side. This thickness provides better pressure relief and the right support for your shape and sleeping position.
Density And Firmness
Density refers to the mass of one cubic foot. If this does not tell you much, don’t worry. Think of it like this – a higher density mattress topper will feel much heavier and more solid than a lower density one. As a rule of thumb, people with back pains should opt for mattress toppers with a density between 3 and 5 pounds per cubic foot. Or in other words, at least a medium density mattress topper. The higher the density, the more support you will get. And if you suffer from back pain, you really need that support.
Many people mistake density for firmness. But these are not the same thing. Firmness is the initial feel of the mattress topper when you lie down. There are usually 3 categories: soft, medium and firm. The best mattress topper for back pain is a firm or medium-firm one. Especially for back and stomach sleepers.
Be sure to measure your mattress before you get a mattress topper. And naturally, the topper should nicely fit the mattress. It shouldn’t go over the edges of the mattress, nor should you see the mattress edges from under the topper. So be sure to properly check the size of the topper.
Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain
As we already established, you should be on the lookout for either a memory foam or a latex mattress topper. Memory foam tends to be cheaper, so if you’re on a budget, you might want to go with this. On the other hand, latex is durable and provides very good support for the spine, which helps relieve back pain.
Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain – Memory Foam
LUCID has quite a collection of mattress toppers. But this one is especially good for those with back pain. This mattress topper is 4″ thick and has a density of 3 lb/ft3. The ventilated design helps regulate temperature, so the topper will not run too hot during the night. You might notice a foam scent when you first open the mattress topper. This is completely normal and should disappear in a few days after opening.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, RV Queen, King, Cal King
Price: From $110
Viscosoft’s gel infused memory foam mattress topper is 3″ thick, with a density of 3.5 lb/ft3. It’s a perfect balance for support, making this one of the best mattress topper for lower back pain. The topper aligns to your spine, relieving common pressure points. It provides enough support, so you won’t sink into the mattress. We love that the topper is covered by a removable bamboo rayon cover, which you can easily remove and wash. Bamboo is a breathable material, so it will keep the temperature from rising too high during the night.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King
Price: From $120
Here’s another mattress topper from Viscosoft that definitely makes the top pick. This topper is made from gel infused latex foam. Which means that it’s both memory foam and latex. There are so many great aspects about this mattress topper. It’s 3″ thick, has a density of 4 lb/ft3 and unlike most mattress toppers it comes odorless. It provides the right amount of support for people with back pain or hip pain. While it allows you to sink into the topper to properly align with your spine, it still give you the necessary support.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
Price: From $185
Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain – Latex
Take Ten makes latex mattress toppers with different firmness levels. This one is medium, with a density of 4.7 lb/ft3. It’s a great choice for anyone with back pain, as it provides good support during the night. The topper is 3″ thick and is covered with a zippered cotton cover. We also love the fact that it’s 100% vegan and has a 5 year warranty. PS! If you want a thinner mattress topper, just click on the Buy Now link below and choose the right size with 2″ thickness.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King
Price: From $169
If you’re looking for more support from a latex mattress topper, Take Ten also has a firm one to offer. It’s similar to the previous topper – 100% natural latex and vegan with a 5 year warranty. But this one has a density of 5.3 lb/ft3. It means that it’s more firm and feels stronger. If you’re a plus size person and need more support, this is truly the best mattress topper for back pain. And like the medium firm topper, this one also comes in a thinner size at 2″.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King
Price: From $234
This mattress topper is made from Talalay latex that is 4 times more breathable than memory foam. If you tend to run hot during the night, this is the way to go. Dreamfold Bedding has toppers in 3 different firmness levels: soft, medium, firm. This particular one is medium, but depending on your frame, you can also go with the firm one, if you need more support. It’s a great mattress topper for anyone who has back pain, as it provides pressure relief.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Short Queen, Queen, King, Cal King
Price: From $284