Best Mattress for Back Pain in 2022 – CNET

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Back pain can seem like the primary enemy standing between you and a good night’s rest, but a mattress can make a big difference in how you feel and how well you sleep. Sometimes, in fact, your mattress is the culprit behind your back pain. The best mattress for back pain won’t be the same for everyone, but finding the right one for you can mean that relief is right around the corner. 

We spoke to Dr. Andrew Casden, chief of orthopedics and spine surgery at White Plains Hospital in New York, about his thoughts on the best mattress for back pain. He said, “What we know for sure is that too soft or too hard a mattress is not good for your back and can lead to back pain. A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves in our body without putting pressure on the spine.”

You don’t want a super firm mattress, but you don’t want a soft mattress either. If your biggest source of pain is your lower back, you’re better off opting for something supportive like a hybrid mattress with a mixture of soft materials and the feel of a medium-firm mattress. According to Casden, “Medical research does suggest that a ‘medium-firm’ mattress can help reduce the risk of developing back pain and decrease the pain for those already suffering from back pain.” You should also take your specific sleeping position into account, so you maintain proper spinal alignment while sleeping. 

There are plenty of excellent mattresses out there that fit the bill. I tested them all to bring you the best mattresses for back pain relief. I’ll update this list periodically as I review new products. Note that the prices shown are for queen sizes, and may vary.

Looking for mattress accessories? We’ve also got recommendations for the best mattress topper, the best pillow, the best innerspring mattress and the best bed sheets for 2022.

Video: Best Beds for Back Pain

Watch CNET Video Producer Owen Poole review the best mattress for back pain. 

Read more: Best Full Mattresses in 2022

Amerisleep

Pros and cons


Who it’s best for

  • Back and stomach sleepers
  • All body types because of its hybrid design
  • People who suffer from back pain
  • People who love dense memory foam

Downsides

  • Gives resistance to combination sleepers
  • Too firm for strict side sleepers

Product details


Type

Memory foam hybrid

Firmness

7 or Medium-firm

Trial

100 nights

Warranty

20-year prorated warranty

Price (Queen)

$1,149

Our Take


Nectar

Pros and cons


Who it’s best for

  • People who want a nice memory foam mattress
  • Most sleeping positions

Downsides

  • Too firm for petite side sleepers
  • Harder to switch positions with dense memory foam

Product details


Type

Memory foam mattress

Firmness

5 or medium

Trial

365 nights

Warranty

Forever warranty

Price (Queen)

$1,199

Our Take


Lindsay Boyers

Pros and cons


Who it’s best for

  • People who want a luxury innerspring mattress
  • Most sleeping positions
  • All body types
  • People who want a firm, supportive bed

Downsides

  • Too firm for side sleepers under 150 pounds
  • A little expensive for budget shoppers

Product details


Type

Hybrid mattress

Firmness

3 firmness levels | Plush Soft: Medium or 5 | Luxury Firm: Medium-firm or 7 | Firm: 9/10 or firm

Trial

360 nights

Warranty

lifetime warranty

Price (Queen)

$1,595

Our Take


Lindsay Boyers

Pros and cons


Who it’s best for

  • Most sleeping positions
  • All body types
  • Those who are open-minded to a unique mattress

Downsides

  • Too firm for side sleepers under 150 pounds
  • The most expensive Purple model

Product details


Type

Hybrid mattress

Firmness

6 or medium to medium-firm

Trial

100 nights

Warranty

10-year limited warranty

Price (Queen)

$2,429

My Slumber Yard

Our Take


My Slumber Yard

Our Take


Allswell

Our Take


Lindsay Boyers

Pros and cons


Who it’s best for

  • People who want a mixed foam feel
  • All body types (hybrid construction)
  • All sleeping positions

Downsides

  • A little expensive
  • Might be too soft for heavy back and stomach sleepers

Product details


Type

Memory foam hybrid mattress

Firmness

5 or medium

Trial

101 nights

Warranty

25-year limited warranty

Price (queen)

$1,491

Our Take


Lindsay Boyers

Pros and cons


Who it’s best for

  • People over 230 pounds
  • Back and stomach sleepers
  • Shoppers looking for a good value

Downsides

  • Overkill for people who weigh under 230 pounds
  • May be too firm for heavy strict side sleepers

Product details


Type

Memory foam hybrid mattress

Firmness

7 or medium-firm

Trial

100 nights

Warranty

15-year limited warranty

Price (queen)

$1,549

Our Take


Other mattresses we’ve tested

It’s difficult for the average person to test every mattress they might be interested in, especially when it comes to online mattresses that are exclusively sold through the brands’ websites. That’s why we have our CNET Sleep editors test the mattresses we review, and create round ups that include some of the best beds they snuggled up to. While the beds above are top choices, here are a few that could have easily made the list as an ideal mattress for back pain. 

Avocado mattress: For individuals who live green or are particularly sensitive to household allergens, an organic mattress like Avocado might be appealing. With the optional pillow top, the Avocado mattress has a medium-firm profile that keeps the back in neutral alignment and prevents it from sagging into the mattress. At the same time, there is ample pressure relief around the points you need it most. Though, it might be a little too firm for side sleepers. Another plus about this bed, is thanks to its latex foam construction, it’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. 

WinkBed mattress: There are several perks to a WinkBed mattress that make it an ultra comfortable option for people who suffer from back pain. It’s offered in three firmness levels, but the firm model (rated around a medium-firm) is what I recommend, thanks to its golden ratio of support to pressure relief. Not only is it made with supportive pocketed coils, but it also has a “LumbarLayer” specifically designed to offer targeted support to your lumbar region.  

Loom & Leaf mattress: Offered in two firmness levels, medium-firm and firm, the Loom & Leaf mattress is a memory foam mattress that can help prevent back pain and offer cooling relief at the same time. It’s a thick, foam mattress with a firm profile that keeps your spine from sagging into the bed. If you happen to sleep hot, it also has a cooling gel layer that’s very effective at keeping you and the bed at a comfortable temperature. 

How we test mattresses for back pain

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about based on editorial merit. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. 

To test the best mattresses for back pain, we considered the beds that provide great support with ample pressure relief. Once we had a roundup of the ones that stood out the most, we carefully considered the beds with designs that are meant to help promote a neutral spinal alignment. We also looked to mattresses that have been endorsed by the people who know best at the American Chiropractic Association. For even more expertise, we consulted specialized doctors who have the necessary knowledge on the best and worst mattresses for back pain. 

Read more on how we test mattresses.

What to consider when buying a mattress for back pain

Shopping for the proper mattress that fits your needs is important to any buyer. That said, people with back pain especially have to be considerate of their new bed purchase because they don’t want it to contribute to even more aches. Here are the key things to look out for when searching for a bed to help with back pain relief. 

Firmness level: As our medical experts have said, the best beds for back pain seem to be in the medium-firm range; you want a mattress that’s neither too firm or too soft. A medium-firm mattress mostly offers great support, but it’s not too firm where it loses its pressure-relieving abilities. At the same time, it’s important to consider your sleeping position to properly accommodate your needs. 

Sleeping position: Medium-firm mattresses will be perfectly suitable for many people with back pain including back, stomach and combination sleepers. However, the key is to have a mattress that keeps your spine in a straight alignment with your neck and head. As such, side sleepers with back pain may want a slightly softer mattress that gives underneath the curves of your shoulders and hips. A medium mattress is best for petite and side sleepers because you get more pressure relief without compromising support. 

Hybrid construction: Between foam beds and hybrid beds that incorporate both foam and coils, hybrid beds are typically best at helping alleviate back pain. Foam beds are more prone to sagging and indentations, and this wear and tear can help contribute to your back pain. Hybrid beds with coils in the foundation layer provide more support for all body types, and do a better job at keeping your spine in proper alignment. 

Special ergonomic designs: Some beds have average designs while others are made with back pain sufferers in mind. Keep an eye out for these ergonomic mattresses. Beds like the Casper Wave with multiple zoned support layers or the Saatva with special lumbar support will likely prove to be more beneficial for back pain than a standard hybrid or foam mattress. 

Signs your mattress is causing back pain

Dr. Jacob Hascalovici, chief medical officer of the telehealth chronic pain platform Clearing, gave us insight into the consequences of a bad mattress, and the signs to look out for. 

“If you’re frequently waking up with a crick in the neck, back pain, stiff joints, experiencing mental fogginess, and having trouble falling asleep can all be signs of a mattress that is hurting your back,” Hascalovici said. “A bad mattress can mean a bad night’s sleep. It can also add up to more pain, both in your back and in other muscles and joints that are forced out of alignment or have to compensate for a lack of support.” 

That’s why it’s so important to sleep on an accommodating mattress. “Over time, pain and lost sleep can lead to memory problems, lack of concentration, mood swings, lowered immunity, and even weight gain and a higher risk of heart trouble,” Hascalovici said. “Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for multiple areas of your mind and body, so it’s worth prioritizing.” 

Different types of back pain 

“The back is such a large and important part of the body, it’s not unusual for it to develop aches and pains,” Hascalovici explained. “While back pain can be characterized in many different ways, it can be convenient to classify it by where it shows up.”

Neck pain: “Unfortunately common, neck pain can happen for quite a few different reasons. The neck can get sore from supporting an out-of-alignment head — if you carry your head thrust forward, for example, hunch, or have ‘text neck,’ you may notice soreness and difficulty turning your neck. Arthritis can happen, or the neck can get injured. It’s also not uncommon to wake up with neck pain from unsupportive pillows, from sleeping on your stomach, or from tooth-grinding during the night, among other things.”

Upper back pain: “The upper back, or thoracic spine, can suffer from musculoskeletal pain,” Hascalovici said. “Discs can slip, strains can occur, and nerves can get pinched. Often, however, the causes of upper back pain can be traced back to being sedentary, to having relatively poor posture, or weakened, or to weakened muscles that let the spine tilt out of alignment. Upper back pain can affect the shoulders; shoulders may also hurt if you’ve been putting pressure on them unevenly while sleeping.”

Lower back pain: “Only five vertebrae comprise the lower back, but those bones bear a lot of weight and pressure,” Hascalovici said. “Herniated discs, muscle strains, nerve damage, and arthritis can all cause lower back pain. Doing heavy, repetitive labor, lifting heavy weights, toting a hefty bag around, or slumping don’t help, either. For people with lower back pain, a medium-firm or firm mattress can sometimes yield some pain relief.”

“Wherever pain shows up in the back, it can be frustrating,” he continued. “The back is vulnerable to damage and to soreness caused by inflammation and arthritis; stress also contributes to back pain, since it often makes people clench their muscles.” As a remedy, Hascalovici suggested “supplements, regular exercise, good posture, an anti-inflammatory diet, managing stress, and getting enough sleep all help to prevent and manage back pain.”

Other ways to reduce back pain

Hascalovici said some sleeping positions are better than others for back pain, and offered a few tips to help you sleep more comfortably.

  • If you can, try to sleep on your side while bending your knees a little. It may help to put a firm pillow behind your back to help hold you in place. 
  • A soft body pillow or feather pillow between your knees may make you feel more comfortable. 
  • If you naturally prefer sleeping on your back, tuck a small pillow under your knees to keep your lower back from arching and possibly hurting more. 
  • Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, but if you can’t, you can at least stick a pillow under your hips at night to keep your back from arching too much.
  • Consider a mattress topper to make your bed feel more supportive or more pressure relieving, depending on what you need out of your current mattress. If your bed is too soft, consider a latex topper to add firmness. If your bed is too firm, a plush memory foam topper can help soften things up. 

FAQs

Can a mattress cause back pain?

Yes. A poor mattress or ill-suited bed for your needs can be a contributing factor to your back pain. If your bed is fairly new, less than a few years old, it’s possible your bed is too firm or too soft for your needs. 

A soft mattress can cause back pain for back and stomach sleepers because it allows the lower back to sag into the foam. On the other hand, a firm mattress can press into the shoulders and hips of a side sleepers, causing the spine to be misaligned. 

If your mattress has sags, indents or visible wear and tear, it’s a sign your bed is too old. Old mattresses with lumps and bumps aren’t efficient and promoting proper spinal alignment, and can lead you to wake up with back pain. 

What type of mattress is best for back pain?

Memory foam and latex are the most commonly recommended mattress materials for back pain. These materials conform to your body and provide pressure relief where you need it most. One hundred percent memory foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses — which combine springs with memory foam and/or latex — are both good choices.

Are memory foam mattresses good for back pain?

Memory foam mattresses are among the best for back pain. They contour your body, alleviating pressure on your joints and reducing aches and pains. The memory foam also aligns with the natural curvature of your spine, providing lumbar support.

Is it better to have a firm mattress for back pain?

Very firm mattresses were often recommended for back pain in the past, but based on feedback from sleepers, a mattress that’s too firm can disrupt sleep and contribute to back pain. On the other hand, mattresses that are too soft also contribute to poor sleep quality and back pain, by throwing your spine out of alignment and putting too much pressure on your joints. 

In general, the best mattress for back pain is one that’s rated medium to medium-firm, but it also depends on how you sleep. For example, side sleepers need a mattress that’s softer than back sleepers who generally need a firmer mattress, so the right mattress depends on your existing sleep habits.

What is the best mattress for back pain?

Some of the best mattresses to help alleviate back pain include:

  • AS2 Hybrid
  • Saatva
  • DreamCloud
  • Purple Hybrid
  • Nectar Premier
  • Casper Wave
  • Allswell
  • GhostBed Flex
  • Helix Plus

What sleeping position is best for back pain?

The best sleeping positions for back pain are on your back with a pillow underneath the knees to alleviate pressure or on your side with a pillow in between the knees. If you sleep on your stomach and can’t make the switch, sleep with a pillow underneath the lumbar region (your lower back area). 

More recommendations for a good night’s rest

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.