Available in three firmness settings, the Saatva’s unique coil-on-coil design should accommodate most sleepers with back pain regardless of their height, weight, or sleeping position.
Mattress Nerd consulted Julia LeBlanc, PT/DPT to ensure that this article met our editorial standards
Millions of adults who experience chronic back pain can alleviate the issue completely or partially by improving the quality of their mattress. The right mattress for your body type, weight, and sleeping position will help minimize areas of aches and pains throughout the night, leading to a better sleeping experience and more energized days.
While there’s no industry standard for the types of mattresses that can be classified as “orthopedic,” mattresses marketed as such are generally medium-firm and have characteristics that support the proper alignment of sleepers’ spines in order to improve body posture and alleviate pain.
Before you purchase an orthopedic mattress, we invite you to explore our top eight recommendations for the best orthopedic mattresses of 2021. We share details about these top picks, including who they’re best for, firmness levels, and more. We’ve also compiled a buyer’s guide to shopping for an orthopedic mattress, which includes important shopping considerations to note as you decide on your mattress, explains the various types of orthopedic mattresses available in today’s market, and provides tips for making an orthopedic mattress purchase decision that you’ll feel confident about.
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Available in three firmness settings, the Saatva’s unique coil-on-coil design should accommodate most sleepers with back pain regardless of their height, weight, or sleeping position.
The Saatva is a luxury innerspring mattress with a coil-on-coil support system and thick, plush comfort layers on top. Made by Saatva, a company that offers innerspring, hybrid, and more types of mattresses (there’s even a Saatva mattress for kids!), the Saatva is the brand’s flagship mattress. It features a euro-top cover followed by layers of polyfoam and memory foam in addition to pocketed coils.
The durable springs at the core reinforce the entire bed and help prevent sinkage at the edges, and the bed’s range of options (it’s available in three firmness options and two height profiles) will accommodate almost any sleeper. The airflow through the coil layers also makes this bed breathable and appropriate for sleepers with back pain who sleep hot. The Saatva comes with free white glove delivery in the contiguous USA, a 120-night trial, and a lengthy 15-year warranty.
Read our full Saatva Mattress Review to learn more!
Support, comfort, and cooling are just three of the things that the GhostBed Flex, an impressively constructed hybrid mattress, offers.
25 year warranty
A good hybrid mattress provides support with a layer of sturdy coils, and comfort with either layers of foam or latex. A great hybrid mattress does these things and also excels in edge support, responsiveness, and motion isolation. The GhostBed Flex is a great hybrid mattress.
The GhostBed Flex contains five total layers: a quilted cover, a layer of gel memory foam (great for cooling), a ghost bounce layer (great for responsiveness), a tall layer of individually wrapped coils, and a base layer of high density foam. Every layer utilizes high-quality materials that should make for a long lasting bed.
As for how it helps with back pain, the formerly mentioned comfort and support giving construction plays a key role here. A healthy spine means less pain, and the GhostBed Flex does a good job of allowing the hips to sink into the surface enough to feel comforted, but not so much that the spine rests in an unhealthy position.
Read our full GhostBed Flex Mattress Review to learn more!
Coming in at just under $1,000 for a queen, the Helix Midnight delivers unbelievable comfort and support for an affordable price.
The Helix Midnight, also a hybrid mattress, comes at a very appealing price point. So much so that we awarded it editor’s pick on our list of best affordable mattresses. A king size can be yours for $1,349, and a queen size for only $999.
But how does it perform against back pain? Our mattress testers found that the Helix Midnight had a fantastic medium-firm feel, with a nice balance of contour and structure. This balance can be helpful in mitigating back pain, as it allows the hips and shoulders to feel cushioned while still being supported enough to keep the spine aligned.
If you still aren’t sold, the Helix Midnight also features temperature regulating materials and the top layers of foam do a great job of isolating motion. Finding a great hybrid mattress for such a reasonable price is rare, so keep the Helix Midnight in mind.
Read our full Helix Midnight Mattresses Review to learn more!
The construction of the Casper Nova Hybrid delivers the high firmness that stomach sleepers need without sacrificing comfort.
10 year warranty
Sleeping on your stomach can lead to worsened back pain, especially if your mattress doesn’t cater to stomach sleeping. If you aren’t willing to try and change your sleeping position, there are still ways that you can mitigate your pain. Namely, finding a mattress that will keep your hips above the surface, rather than letting them sink into the foam. If that sounds like a tall order, don’t worry! We’ve already found one for you: the Casper Nova Hybrid.
With a supportive structure and airy foam layers, we found that the Casper Nova Hybrid performed well for stomach sleepers of all sizes. Plus, this mattress utilizes materials that are durable and, if properly taken care of, can last for a very long time
Read our full Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress Review to learn more!
The Bear Pro utilizes hi-tech materials and quality construction to give athletes a mattress that reliably aids in the process of muscle recovery.
It’s no secret that physical activity, while very good for you, can take a toll on the body. If you’ve ever experienced post-workout back pain, you probably know how frustrating the seemingly endless recovery process can be. Well, with the right mattress, that process can be significantly shortened.
The Bear Pro has several unique features that earn it our title of best orthopedic mattress for athletes. First, the mattress cover utilizes Celliant technology, a mineral enhancement that can aid in the recovery and regeneration of muscle. Next, we have the mattress layers. Comfort foam, transition foam, and support foam come together to form a bed that cradles and supports pressure points, while keeping your spine aligned regardless of sleep position.
Whether you’re a casual runner, a powerlifter, or simply someone looking to sleep without back pain, the Bear Pro delivers comfort and recovery.
Read our full Bear Pro Mattress Review to learn more!
For those who need a firm surface to aid in getting in and out of bed as well as pressure point relief, the DreamCloud is a reasonably priced hybrid that checks all the boxes.
Like the Saatva, the DreamCloud features a euro-top cover, polyfoam and memory foam layers, and a thick coil system that provides excellent edge support. The edge support is the highlight of the mattress, in our opinion. The coil system is encased in high-density foam to minimize sinkage and motion transfer. Back pain tends to correlate closely with age, so orthopedic mattresses with a high level of edge support can be an excellent choice for elderly individuals with back pain who need a stable, safe surface to get in and out of bed.
The bed has a medium-firm feel and is constructed with three layers overall. You’ll experience a good night’s sleep and targeted pressure point relief in this mattress at a reasonable price for a hybrid bed. The DreamCloud comes with a 365-night sleep trial, a lifetime warranty, and free shipping in the contiguous USA.
Read our full DreamCloud Premier Mattress Review to learn more!
The Nectar, an all-foam mattress, is made with three layers of memory foam for excellent pressure relief and offers a high-quality construction at a lower price point than other models.
The Nectar mattress contains three layers of memory foam and one layer of polyfoam, including a plush top layer of quilted gel memory foam, a secondary layer of gel memory foam, a high-density memory foam transitional layer, and a firm support core of high-density polyfoam.
The multiple foam layers work together to provide excellent pressure relief, and the medium-firm feel makes it an appealing choice for sleepers of all weights and preferred sleeping positions. It also provides excellent motion isolation and breathable qualities for the price point, sealing the deal for sleepers with aches and pains who want relief but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.
Read our full Nectar Mattress Review to learn more!
The Layla Hybrid, a flippable bed with two firmness options, makes choosing between soft or firm as easy as flipping the mattress.
10 year warranty
Back pain makes getting a good night’s sleep hard enough, throw in a case of night sweats and you may as well not even try. Thankfully, the Layla Hybrid has solutions for both. Named one of our best cooling mattresses, this bed has a hybrid build that allows for maximum breathability and temperature regulation. Plus, it’s flippable! One side of the Layla comes in at a firmness of 3/10 (very soft) and the other side measures around 6.5/10 (firm).
If you’re dealing with back pain, we recommend trying the firm side first. Though not necessarily the cause of your discomfort, a softer mattress can cause your hips to sink too far and your spine to become unaligned, especially if you’re a back or stomach sleeper. This can result in your pain becoming more pronounced. A firm mattress, on the other hand, should keep everything where it’s supposed to be and allow you to get deep sleep more easily.
Read our full Layla Hybrid Mattress Review to learn more!
The Level Sleep was designed specifically to mitigate back pain. Sound too good to be true?
When you talk about orthopedic mattresses, the Level Sleep needs to be a part of the conversation. The unique design of this mattress caters specifically to those suffering from or aiming to prevent back pain.
Most mattresses have one firmness level, or two if they’re flippable. The Level Sleep has three firmness levels, all on the same surface. The head and shoulder area comes in at a 5 out of 10, the lumbar region measures an 8 out of 10, and the hip area has a feel of 7 out of 10.
Why does this matter? Well, these multiple firmnesses allow each of these body parts to rest exactly where they should in the mattress surface, meaning the spine stays aligned, and the hips and shoulders stay supported. We find the resulting support and back pain relief to be so impressive that we even included the Level Sleep on our best mattresses for arthritis list.
Read our full Level Sleep Mattress Review to learn more!
Made with Purple’s proprietary Purple Grid, the Purple Hybrid marries contouring with responsiveness perfectly for a mattress that feels very comfortable but doesn’t sink too deeply.
10 year warranty
The Purple Hybrid is constructed with Purple’s proprietary Purple Grid in the comfort layer, a polyfoam transitional layer, a pocketed coil support core that’s encased in high-density polyfoam, and a polyfoam base layer.
Measuring 11 inches thick all together, the Purple Hybrid balances body-contouring and even support, making it suitable for side sleepers, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and combination sleepers in any weight group. We recommend the Purple Hybrid as an orthopedic mattress for individuals who enjoy purchasing products with unique materials and innovative designs, and for those who like a bouncy feel or sleeping “on” the mattress.
Read our full Purple Hybrid Mattress Review to learn more!
In this buyer’s guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know and consider prior to purchasing an orthopedic mattress. Read on to learn about the different types of orthopedic mattresses available, important buying considerations, and how to pick the best orthopedic mattress for your budget, unique issue, and preferred sleeping position.
There’s no industry standard for what qualifies a mattress as “orthopedic.” However, each of the most common mattress types provides various benefits for sleepers with back and joint issues.
Foam—Foam mattresses provide excellent conforming and pain relief, thanks to the thick comfort layers. All-foam mattresses also isolate motion better than other types, which helps to reduce sleep disruptions. Keep in mind that these widely available mattresses can have issues when it comes to edge support, so if ease of getting in and out of bed is important to you, look for an orthopedic foam mattress with high rankings in edge support to prevent unwanted sagging.
Latex—Similarly to foam mattresses, latex mattresses conform to the body but do so to a lesser extent. Latex has more bounce than foam, and the bounce can feel too much for some sleepers with spine or back problems. They’re among the most durable mattresses on the market, though, so if you can find a latex orthopedic mattress that relieves your back pain, it could be a worthwhile investment that lasts many years. See: Best Latex Mattresses
Hybrid—Hybrid mattresses provide a nice combination of contouring (in the comfort foam layers) and support (from the pocketed coils support core and foam base layers). They typically sleep cool and come in varying firmness options, but they’re among the most expensive mattress types on the market.
Innerspring—Innerspring mattresses, or “traditional” beds, have a support core of innerspring coils that are topped with layers of foam. The majority of innerspring mattresses aren’t orthopedic because they don’t contour well, but some brands have tailored their innerspring beds for back pain by adding comfort layers and improving the quality of the base to provide pressure relief and evenly distributed support.
Firmness level should be at the top of your list of considerations when purchasing a mattress for orthopedic purposes. A mattress’s firmness setting (1 through 10) will impact how well it alleviates pain and how well it supports your spine’s proper alignment.
In general, sleepers who suffer from back pain do well on a medium-firm mattress with adequate conforming properties, but this will vary widely depending on your body weight. For example, heavyweight sleepers will find adequate conforming and support in firmer mattresses, whereas lightweight sleepers require plush mattresses to enjoy body-contouring and pressure relief. Average weight sleepers with back issues do best on medium-firm mattresses.
As mentioned, there’s no industry standard definition for “orthopedic mattress” or governing body in the mattress industry that regulates which mattresses can earn the title of “orthopedic mattress.” As such, it’s important to make sure that any mattress marketed as “orthopedic” actually has qualities that will alleviate back and joint pain and support proper spinal alignment.
The brand’s reputation can be a good indicator of its ethics and therefore the honesty of its marketing tactics, so we recommend looking into customer reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings and accreditation, and more to make sure the product you’re considering is actually what the company says it is.
The vast majority of mattresses sold today come with a sleep trial, which allows sleepers to test out the mattress for many nights (usually 30 or more) with the option to return it for free if it doesn’t suit their needs. The length of the sleep trial is an especially important shopping consideration for individuals with pain. Orthopedic mattresses, which tend to be more firm in nature, may take several weeks for your body to adjust to. We recommend looking for an orthopedic mattress that has a sleep trial of at least 90 days with free returns. See: Best Mattresses for Adjustable Beds
It’s important to consider your body weight to determine the best type of mattress and mattress firmness for you. As mentioned above, if you are a heavyweight individual, you may fare better on a firmer orthopedic mattress. If you’re lightweight, consider a softer orthopedic mattress, which will allow for more conforming.
If you have back pain, joint pain, skeletal irregularities, osteoporosis, or are looking for an orthopedic mattress for improved recovery throughout the night, you’ll want to take your preferred sleeping position into consideration. Many individuals with back pain find that back sleeping is the most comfortable position, which is line with the position that most orthopedic doctors and specialists recommend for all sleepers in order to improve posture, encourage spinal alignment, and lessen aches and pains.
However, if you’re a dedicated side, stomach, or combination sleeper, the firmness and support offered by your orthopedic mattress should cater to this. Side sleepers, for example, need more conforming around the hip and shoulder areas in order to achieve proper spinal alignment. Some sleepers struggling with aches and pains find comfort in an adjustable bed so they can easily change their positioning. See: Best Adjustable Beds
Most mattresses sold today also come with a warranty that spans anywhere from five years to a lifetime. The more expensive the mattress, the more important the warranty, and its coverage becomes. If you’re investing several thousand dollars in an orthopedic mattress that you want to last for five to ten years, we recommend making sure that the mattress company covers its product with a generous warranty term length. Some warranties are voided if you do not use them on a proper box spring, foundation or bed frame as required by the company, so make sure you do your research!
The best sleeping positions for back pain vary by your area of pain. For example, those with upper back pain who sleep on their sides will fare better with a thin foam pillow between their knees. Those with lower back pain who sleep on their back with a pillow beneath their knees will feel that the natural curve of their spine is more supported.
RELATED: Best Mattresses for Back Pain
Prior to choosing a firmness level, we recommend understanding your primary sleeping position and even touching base with an orthopedic doctor or specialist, who can make recommendations about mattress firmness and appropriate sleeping accessories, like pillows, prior to your purchase.
As mentioned above, the firmness level of an orthopedic mattress is absolutely crucial in ensuring the mattress will alleviate pain and properly support your spine. Evaluate your body weight, body size, and primary sleeping position, all of which factor in to determine the firmness level that’s best suited for your body.
For average weight side and back sleepers, the ideal mattress firmness setting for side sleeping is medium to medium-firm. For average weight stomach sleepers, the ideal firmness setting is medium-soft to medium. Lightweight and heavyweight individuals will require softer mattresses and firmer mattresses, respectively, in each sleeping style category.
Whether latex, all-foam, hybrid, or innerspring, there’s no “best” mattress type when it comes to orthopedic mattresses. The mattress industry has become so varied in the last few decades that, for nearly every type of mattress available, there’s a version that’s well-suited for individuals with orthopedic issues.
However, the criteria for choosing your orthopedic mattress should remain the same regardless of the type of mattress you prefer: it should provide back support (proper spinal alignment) above all, alleviate areas of aches and pains, and have a firmness level that’s tailored to your sleeping position and weight. From there, the various mattress types offer unique benefits. Hybrids, for example, work well for individuals who sleep hot. Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, may sleep a little warmer but provide the coveted “deep hug” feeling that many sleepers have come to love.
The right new mattress can help alleviate pressure and aches in your neck, hips, lower spine, and shoulders, and the wrong mattress can exacerbate issues in these same areas or even create new areas of pain. When choosing the best mattress for sleep and back pain, take your time. You can never do too much research to determine the type of mattress and firmness level that’s appropriate for you and your partner. From there, refer back to our list of the best orthopedic mattresses for back pain, which should get you started in the right direction.
|Mattress Model||Award||Nerd Score|
|GhostBed Flex||Best Hybrid||4.7/5|
|Helix Midnight||Best Affordable||4.8/5|
|Casper Nova Hybrid||Best for Stomach Sleepers||4.6/5|
|Bear Pro||Best for Athletes||4.7/5|
|Dreamcloud Premier||Best Edge Support||4.8/5|
|Layla Hybrid||Best Cooling||4.8/5|
|Level Sleep||Best for Arthritis||4.6/5|
|Purple Hybrid||Most Innovative||4.8/5|
Julia LeBlanc is part of our panel of medical expert contributors on the subject of sleep health. They provide important perspectives on the topics we discuss to help make our content as accurate and dependable as possible. They do not personally endorse any products, nor are they associated with any brands featured in our review content.
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