Scientists originally developed memory foam in association with NASA. Memory foam is made of visco-elastic material. A good quality memory foam mattress will cushion the body and evenly distribute weight, which reduces pressure points and may, therefore, ease back pain. However, despite anecdotal evidence, there is no scientific proof that memory foam universally alleviates orthopedic pain. Its effectiveness depends on your weight, the firmness of the mattress and the nature of your back problem.
The density of any memory foam mattress is important. High density memory foam will offer superior spinal support. Opt for a density of between 80 lbs. and 143 lbs. Support and pressure relief also depends on the depth of memory foam in the mattress. A depth of 2.75 inches to 4 inches is recommended for maximum support.
According to a consumer report on myfoammattress.com, memory foam offered good overall support, which may help with back pain. However, consumers also found that memory foam made it difficult to turn in bed. This may cause stiffness which could exacerbate pack pain. A consumer survey conducted by sleeplikethedead.com found that at least 15 percent of people who owned memory foam mattresses experienced relief from back pain.
Memory foam mattresses have varying levels of firmness, so spend time shopping around for one you feel comfortable with. Although it has traditionally been thought that firm beds were better for orthopedic problems, a report in The Lancet concluded that people with back pain fare better on a medium to firm bed rather than a firm bed.
The Sleep Council says that because of its ability to absorb pressure, memory foam can significantly reduce the need to turn in bed. If you suffer from back trouble or impaired movement this really makes a huge difference in your quality of sleep. The Sleep Council advises consumers to spend more time choosing a bed and try it out in the store. People with back problems should look for a supportive bed.
The mattress industry isn't regulated so be wary of buying mattresses whose manufacturers claim they are orthopedic. This just means that the mattress is firm.
- The Lancet: Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: randomised, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trial
- Sleep Like The Dead: Memory Foam Mattresses vs Latex Mattresses → Based on Data From Over 3,400 Actual Owners
- Jmyfoammattress: Latex And Memory Foam Beds Consumer Report Comparison
- The Sleep Council: Look after your back - choose the right bed
- Mattress Solutions: About Memory Foam
- Photo Credit pain ii image by Mykola Velychko from Fotolia.com
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