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. Let’s find out what causes back pain, how to prevent it and how to find your best mattress topper for back pain.
If you’re well aware of what causes back pain and are looking to get your next mattress topper, here’s our top selection!
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 lower 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 during younger years. But it will, once 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 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. And 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 larger 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.
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.
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 much 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. 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
Bedstory topper 2″ or 3″
Bedstory earned its place in our selection because of their excellent quality and varied selection. You can choose between 2″ or 3″ of thickness, which both provide support for back pain. And there are also 2 types of toppers. One is with a cooling gel, the other is without. The cooling gel option suits you better if you tend to run hot during the night. But whichever thickness or type you pick, the mattress topper is infused with bamboo charcoal, which helps eliminate odors, regulate temperature and absorb moisture. The toppers also come with a breathable removable cover, which have elastic straps to keep the topper in place. The density is 3.5 lbs, which is great for back pain. When you first open the package, give the topper 2-3 days to fully expand. There might be a slight odor at first, but this is completely normal and should disappear in a few days after opening.
Sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
Price: From $88
Viscosoft topper 3″
Viscosoft’s gel infused memory foam mattress topper is 3″ thick, with a density of 3.5 lbs. 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, Queen Short, King, CalKing
Price: From $120
Bedstory topper 4″
If you’re looking for a more firm mattress topper, this 4″ one from Bedstory is a great option for you! It’s actually a combination of gel foam and memory foam. The cooling gel will help regulate the temperature during the night. So you won’t run hot. A lot of mattress toppers don’t come with a cover, which can be annoying. Either you risk that your topper will become dirty, or you have to spend more time and money on finding the right cover for it. Bedstory is great because it includes the cover as well. It’s removable and washable. And just like the 2″ and 3″ option above, it comes with elastic straps that keep the topper nicely in place.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, Short Queen, King, King XL, Cal King
Price: From $120
Novilla topper 4″
This medium firm Novilla topper is 4″ thick. Both the firmness and thickness are great if you have back pains. The toper has a 2 layer design. It includes 1.5″ cooling gel memory foam and 2.5″ bamboo charcoal foam. In that way it’s similar to the 2″ or 3″ Bedstory topper. But Novilla’s is thicker, so if you need more support, it’s a better choice for you. You can easily remove and wash the bamboo cover to keep the topper fresh. This topper can easily transform an uncomfortable bed into a total dream bed. It gives you the support you need and you’ll have a hard time getting out of bed. Not because of any pains, but because it’s just so comfortable!
Sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King
Price: From $137
Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain – Latex
Lucid topper 2″
If you have a smaller frame, then this 2″ latex topper by Lucid is just the right choice for you. Lucid is quite well known in the mattress world, thanks to their great quality and reasonable prices. We love that their latex mattress topper has a ventilated design, which helps keep the temperature down. Note that there’s no cover for the topper. Overall, it’s a very well priced good quality mattress topper that gives you the support you need.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King, CalKing
Price: From $93
Inofia topper 3″
This 3″ mattress topper is great if you’re looking for more support. The ventilated design allows the topper to breathe better and won’t keep things too hot. The topper consists of 2 layers : latex and charcoal reliefoam. The charcoal cuts down on unpleasant odor. Overall it’s comfortable and the straps help keep it nicely in place. As a slight downside, this topper only comes in 2 sizes.
Sizes: Full, Queen
Price: From $160
Viscosoft topper 3″
Viscosoft has put a lot of thought into this mattress topper. It’s actually a mixture of 2 materials. The topper is 2″ gel latex and 1″ plush pillow on top. This is their way of combining the best of both worlds. Gel latex gives you good support and helps keep the topper cool. So it’s great for people who struggle with back pain or who tend to sleep hot. And the down alternative top gives the topper that cloud-like comfort. The topper is surrounded by a 100% cotton cover, which you can remove and wash as needed.
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
Price: From $190