Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain - Our Top Picks for 2022 and a Buyer’s Guide

A guide to the best mattress toppers, the pros and cons of mattress toppers, who they’re good for, and what to consider when shopping for them.

By: Daniel Grogan

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A high-quality mattress topper can take your bed from pretty nice to luxury hotel comfortable. While you can try them out, thanks to relatively standardized sleep trials, and read reviews, it’s still tricky to find the best mattress topper, especially if you struggle with back pain.  Click here if you’re looking for our overall list of best mattress toppers.

The mattress toppers for back pain will close the gap between almost comfortable and just right, conforming closely to your body to correctly align your spine and provide relief to pressure points along the way. In this guide, we’re sharing our top mattress toppers for back pain and a buyer’s guide that includes the pros and cons of mattress toppers, what to consider when buying one, and how to determine if a mattress topper is the best solution for you.

Disclosure: By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Nerd may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full disclosure statement.

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5 Best Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

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Saatva Graphite Topper

Nerd’s Pick

The Saatva Mattress Topper comes in three different varieties—foam, latex, and graphite, but earning our top honor of Nerd’s Pick on this list is the graphite version. This memory foam topper conforms closely to your body to provide pressure relief and encourage spine alignment.

Reason to Buy: In addition to helping keep you free of back pain, the Saatva Graphite Mattress Topper can help keep you cool throughout the night. The graphite-infused memory foam is designed to draw heat away from your body. Also, the cover is made with organic cotton which helps regulate temperature through its breathable design.

Tempur-Adapt Topper

Best Luxury Mattress Topper for Back Pain 

Maybe your mattress isn’t a top-of-the-line product, but if you’re willing to spend a good amount on a high-quality topper you can elevate your sleep situation to luxury status. The Tempur-Adapt is the perfect mattress topper to do just that.

Reason to Buy: The Tempur-Adapt Topper is made up entirely of Tempur-Pedic’s proprietary foam, which is durable, cozy, and supportive. Not only does it provide luxurious comfort, it also conforms to your body’s natural curves. By doing this, the Tempur-Adapt Topper helps prop you up in the areas where you need it most, encouraging pressure relief and spine alignment.

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Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Mattress Topper

Best Cheap Mattress Topper for Back Pain

Did you know you can get a great quality mattress topper even if you’re shopping on a budget? The Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl mattress topper provides pain relief at a fraction of what another quality mattress topper might cost you. 

Reason to Buy: This memory foam mattress topper is infused with a cooling gel, so it can help keep you cool while also promoting pain-free sleep. The feel of the Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl is that of classic foam, it conforms closely to the shape of your body as you press into it, creating a cradling-like feeling that provides support and comfort.

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Birch Plush Mattress Topper

Best Organic Mattress Topper for Back Pain

An organic mattress topper can have many benefits aside from just being environmentally friendly. The Birch Organic Mattress Topper is constructed with materials that can comfort and help prevent or reduce back pain.

Reason to Buy: Made using organic cotton, organic wool, and natural latex, the Birch Plush Organic Topper offers three inches of comfort and support. If you suffer from back pain, the contouring abilities of this topper can help keep your spine in its proper alignment, which can go a long way in mitigating your achiness. Plus, shopping green is never a bad idea.

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Layla Memory Foam Topper

Best Cooling Mattress Topper for Back Pain

The Layla Memory Foam Topper is a 2-inch-thick topper made from copper-infused memory foam. It’s encased in a polyester blend cover and condenses under deep compression points, like the hips and shoulders.

Reason to Buy: Layla is known for its cooling copper-infusion technology, which improves airflow and blood circulation. The copper helps this topper sleep cooler than most memory foam options, and it’s available at a reasonable price for such a high-quality product. All sizes cost less than $400 and come with free shipping and returns in the contiguous U.S., a 120-night trial, and a 5-year warranty.


What to Look for in a Mattress Topper for Back Pain?

Mattress toppers can be especially beneficial for providing relief for aches and pains, but finding the best mattress topper for back pain requires a bit of knowledge about the materials, styles, and features that will best aid in relief. Here’s an overview of what to look for as you shop:

  • Materials: Memory foam and latex are ideal for pressure relief, as they conform to your body’s curves without sagging over time. Look for high-quality materials, like American Talalay latex and open-cell memory foam, that are known for durability.
  • Conformity: The ideal amount of conforming will provide pressure relief for painful areas, but the ideal level is dependent upon your weight and sleeping position. When shopping online, look for details about how well the mattress works for certain weights, types, and sleeping styles, which are sometimes available in a graph or table.
  • Price: Much like mattresses, the prices for mattress toppers vary widely. However, high-quality mattress toppers are available for $150. If you want something luxury, you’ll be looking at prices in the $300s and above.
  • Durability: Sagging is the main issue you’ll want to avoid when shopping for a mattress topper as it defeats the purpose of the product. Read reviews from shoppers who’ve owned the product for several years to get a glimpse into how it will hold up over time. 
  • Thickness: Toppers differ in thickness, measuring anywhere from one to seven inches thick. However, thicker doesn’t necessarily mean more comfortable. Thinner toppers tend to be firmer (better for back and stomach sleepers), and thicker toppers tend to be softer. What feels right to you will depend on your sleeping position, weight, and size, but the majority of toppers fall in the two to three inch thickness range.

Choosing a Mattress Topper for Your Sleeping Position

Side sleepers need a topper with quite a bit of give to provide conformity in contoured areas, like the shoulders and hips. For that reason, if you sleep on your side you should generally look for a mattress topper that has a firmness level of five or below. Check out our list of the best mattress toppers for side sleepers to learn more.

If you’re a back sleeper, you’ll likely need something closer to the middle of the mattress firmness scale. A medium-firm mattress topper will help keep your spine aligned, which is important for preventing or mitigating back pain.

If you’re a stomach sleeper then you may need a firm mattress topper to keep your hips from sinking below the surface, as this can lead to lower back and neck pain.

Benefits of Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders notes that 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their life. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sudden sharp sensation, and it can begin as the result of an accident or develop over time. Sedentary lifestyles can also contribute to low back pain. The following conditions are common sources of back pain in adults:

  • Strains and sprains
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Herniated or ruptured discs
  • Sciatica
  • Traumatic injury
  • Radiculopathy

Other risk factors, mostly lifestyle-related, can contribute to the risk of developing low back pain, including aging, fitness level, pregnancy, weight gain, occupation, mental health, and genetics. Regardless of the cause or source of your back pain, a mattress topper, which is more supportive and comfortable than a mattress pad or protector, can alleviate back pain as you rest, leading to a minimization of symptoms throughout the day and improved wellness overall.

Cons of Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

It might seem counterintuitive that mattress toppers have potential downsides. After all, aren’t they designed to improve the comfort and supportiveness of your current bedroom setup? This is true, however, there are several potential downsides to be aware of:

  • Temporary solution—If your old mattress is falling apart and no longer supportive, a mattress topper is only a temporary solution. It will provide good sleep and support so long as the mattress underneath it is in relatively good condition, but it can’t completely reverse the effects of a low-quality, unsupportive old mattress.
  • Cost—Toppers can cost anywhere from $30 to $500, with higher-quality, more durable options in the $100 to $200 range. 
  • Exacerbating pain—As is the case when choosing a mattress, choosing a topper that’s too soft or too firm can make your back pain worse, depending on your weight, height, and the area of pain. The best mattress toppers come with 30- to 120-night trials, so you can return the product for free if it’s making matters worse.

Should You Buy a Mattress Topper for Back Pain?

While most back pain doesn’t require medical attention, it can certainly be a distraction and an inconvenience if it’s affecting you on a daily basis. Aching muscles, shooting or stabbing pains, and a reduced range of motion and flexibility are a hindrance to both work and play time, and a mattress topper can provide back pain relief. The great thing about searching for a mattress topper in today’s market is that it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all industry. Mattress toppers are available for a wide variety of aches and pains in many sizes, thicknesses, and materials. Whether you sleep hot, value a longer sleep trial period, have allergies, want all-natural materials, are heavyweight, or want a washable cover, there’s an option out there for you. Here’s an overview of who can benefit from purchasing a mattress topper for back pain:

  • Your current mattress is old or not supportive enough, but you don’t want to invest several thousand dollars into a new mattress.
  • You find your current mattress too firm, but your partner is comfortable on it. Mattress toppers are available in split sizes to soften one side of the bed.
  • You lead a sedentary lifestyle and have noticed an increase in the frequency of dull low-back pain throughout the day. A topper can act as a preventative measure and a supplement to other lifestyle changes, like getting up from your desk every hour to stretch.
  • You want to improve the comfort of a guest bed without spending an arm and a leg. Similar to the first scenario with a primary old mattress, a mattress topper can give guest bedrooms an upgrade for just several hundred dollars.

Conclusion

If you’re shopping for a new mattress topper, keep our buyer’s guide in mind. It’s one of the most affordable sleep innovations available today, but remember that durability, materials, and sleeper-specific factors, like weight, sleeping position, and height, should all impact your purchase. We recommend giving one of our toppers from the best mattress toppers of 2019 list a shot and, if worst comes to worst, you can always take advantage of the free return policies and send it back in order to try another topper.