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If you’re living with chronic pain, you may have read that an orthopedic mattress can help you manage it better.

While certain mattresses do suit certain types of chronic pain, the term “orthopedic mattress” is primarily a marketing one that lacks any true medical relevance. It was first introduced during the 1970s after a survey of orthopedic surgeons without any clear definition.

An “orthopedic” mattress may still offer positive medical outcomes. But, instead of focusing on this vague term, it’s important to look for mattresses that offer the right size, cushioning, and firmness for your needs.

We considered these details — and more — when creating our list of the best orthopedic mattresses on the market.

“Ergonomic mattress” is a term that’s often used synonymously with orthopedic mattresses.

In layman’s terms, an ergonomic mattress is one that offers support for chronic pain. A mattress may be considered “ergonomic” or “orthopedic” if it has medium firmness, high quality materials, multiple layers, and a design for support.

Still, the right firmness ultimately depends on how you sleep with different variations. For example, 2016 research suggests that medium-firm mattresses may aid chronic low-back pain. But there haven’t been enough conclusive studies to determine that this level of firmness definitively improves this condition.

On the flip side, soft mattresses have been shown to do more harm than good for joint pain. While you might feel comfortable at first, your body sinks into the soft materials at night, causing your joints to twist.

Adjustable beds could, in theory, solve the issue of ideal mattress firmness. However, they tend to be more expensive, and they aren’t proven to treat any particular condition.

Our selections are based on the following criteria:

  • Company policies. Warranty, extended home trials, return policies, and shipping are important criteria to consider, especially when purchasing a mattress online. We did our best to select companies with good policies, but it’s still important to research these criteria on any prospective company’s website before finalizing your mattress purchase.
  • Company reputation and transparency. The brands we selected have good reputations and produce high quality mattresses without making unsubstantiated medical claims. Furthermore, our selected companies commit to transparent business practices, such as clear sleep trial policies that are honored if you’re not satisfied with the mattress.
  • Customer reviews. We pored through customer reviews of each mattress, sometimes looking at several websites when applicable. Based on these reviews, we summarized common pros and cons raised by customers.
  • Quality materials. The mattresses here use materials from a range of quality sources, including those that are non-flammable and non-toxic.
  • Medium firmness. From a support perspective, medium-firm mattresses are ideal for joint and back pain.

Pricing guide

Although brands offer a variety of mattress sizes, we created a pricing guide based on queen size mattresses for easy comparison:

  • $ = under $1,300
  • $$ = $1,300–$2,000
  • $$$ = over $2,000

In addition to the list price, you may have to pay for shipping, bases, sheets, and more.

Some companies offer discounts and financing plans, which could help off-set the cost.

Best overall

Saatva Classic Mattress

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Hybrid
  • Height: 11.5 or 14.5 inches

With numerous 5-star ratings, the Saatva Classic Mattress is praised for helping customers get a better night’s sleep. Many say the mattress has helped increase comfort while decreasing their back pain.

Like other hybrid mattresses, the Saatva Classic includes layers of foam and innerspring coils. What sets this mattress apart are the two height options (11.5 or 14.5 inches), as well as three firmness levels (Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm).

If you sleep on your side or have chronic pain, you may benefit from the Luxury Firm level the most.

Saatva offers a 180-night home trial, free shipping, and free white-glove delivery to help you set up your new mattress.

Buy the Saatva Classic Mattress online.

Best hybrid

DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Type: Hybrid
  • Height: 14 inches

Highly rated by customers on their website, the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress is known for its combination of foam layers and individually wrapped coils.

Together, the coils and foam are said to help offer support and help you stay cool while you sleep. In reviews, many customers who tried this mattress also state they experience less pain at night.

In total, the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid has five mattress layers. The foam layers are free of any toxic chemicals.

As a bonus, you don’t necessarily have to purchase a new base or bed frame with this mattress — the product is said to work with any base you might already have.

The most common complaint with this mattress is delayed shipping and delivery, most likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DreamCloud offers a 365-day trial for their mattresses.

Buy the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress online.

Best adjustable mattress

Saatva Solaire Adjustable Mattress

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Adjustable hybrid
  • Height: 13 inches

With a 4.9 out of 5-star average rating, the Saatva Solaire Adjustable Mattress offers up to 50 firmness settings via remote control.

This mattress may be ideal for couples who prefer different firmness settings. In fact, the Solaire allows two remote control settings, one for each side of the bed.

In addition to its adjustability, the Saatva Solaire contains six layers of support, which the company says help maximize comfort. Saatva says this includes eco-friendly memory foam, latex, and an organic cotton outer layer.

The company offers the same 180-night warranty and free white-glove delivery as its other products.

Keep in mind that you will need to buy the adjustable base for the Saatva Solaire separately, which costs an additional $1,399 for a queen size mattress.

Buy the Saatva Solaire Adjustable Mattress online.

Best all foam

Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Type: Foam
  • Height: 11 inches

If you prefer the softness of an all-foam mattress (without any springs), you might want to consider the popular Nectar Memory Foam Mattress.

This mattress is said to have a medium-firm feel. It contains five layers, including a gel foam layer, and a Tencel cover designed to help you stay cool at night.

According to a Nectar survey, 90 percent of their customers say that their memory foam mattress helps with overall aches, as well as neck and body pain.

Still, memory foam isn’t suitable for everyone — especially if you sleep with a partner, or if you weigh over 230 pounds.

You can try the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress for 365 nights. The company also offers free shipping and returns.

Nectar offers a “forever warranty” on their mattresses, but be sure to read the full details of your purchase for more information.

Buy the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress online.

Best for side sleepers

Casper Original Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Type: Hybrid or foam
  • Height: 11 inches

Casper mattresses are known for offering support that also helps you stay cool at night. The Original Mattress is available in hybrid or all-foam models, and both feature perforated foam that is said to be more breathable than traditional memory foam.

The company touts their mattress as ideal for side sleepers because the layers offer pressure relief for your hips, shoulders, and low back.

Many customers report a decrease in back pain and joint stiffness. However, a few say the mattress is too firm for their liking.

Casper offers free shipping and returns, as well as a 100-night sleep trial. You may notice a chemical off-gassing smell for a few days after you unpack the mattress.

Buy the Casper Original Mattress online.

Best for budget buyers

Helix Midnight

  • Price: $
  • Type: Hybrid
  • Height: 12 inches

The Helix Midnight is a medium-firm mattress that may be more affordable than other hybrid mattresses on the market.

This mattress is designed to support side sleepers and offer pressure relief at the hips and shoulders. The company says it also helps you stay cool throughout the night.

Customers say the Helix Midnight works well for couples, and many others state that the mattress helps alleviate back pain. Some report the mattress feels a bit firmer than expected.

The company offers free shipping and a 100-night sleep trial for their mattresses.

Buy the Helix Midnight online.

Best luxury

Purple Hybrid Premier

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Hybrid
  • Height: 11.5 to 12.5 inches

The Purple Hybrid Premier mattress is touted for supporting all your pressure points as you sleep. The brand’s cooling, flexible gel grid is said to be more comfortable in the long-term compared to a foam mattress.

Additionally, this mattress allows you to select between 3 or 4 inches of grid as part of the design. The company recommends the larger grid size if you are a side sleeper or if you have more weight.

While many reviewers say the mattress helps them sleep better, some mention that the Purple Hybrid Premier caused back discomfort as they tried to get used to the grid.

You can try the mattress with a 100-night sleep trial. The company also offers free shipping and returns.

Buy the Purple Hybrid Premier online.

Given the wide range of mattresses available on the market, it’s important to look for key features that indicate a supportive product.

For chronic pain and proper spinal alignment, it may be best to choose a medium-firm mattress.

It’s also important to consider other factors to help prevent or manage pain related to your mattress. You may need a firmer mattress, depending on your personal preference, body weight, and tendency to sleep on your side.

In general, there’s no one-size-fits-all supportive mattress. Research and personal preference are important considerations, as well as the realization that the first one you try may not be your forever mattress.

Take your time, and, if you can, try mattresses out in person for at least 15 minutes to help narrow things down — even if you ultimately buy a mattress online.

In some cases, making adjustments to your sleeping position may be enough to help increase comfort.

Most people sleep on their sides, which may also alleviate chronic health issues, such as low back pain and sleep apnea.

However, if you sleep on your side, it’s important to keep your spine aligned to prevent shoulder and neck pain. A firm pillow can help you if you’re a side sleeper. You may also consider using a body pillow or placing a pillow between your knees to help alleviate pain in your lower back and hip joints.

Creating an ideal sleeping environment may also help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. You can start with the following tips:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning.
  • Keep your room dark and free of lighting — this includes blue lights from electronic devices.
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature.
  • Consider adding white noise, like a fan, if you need to drown out other sounds that keep you awake at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine 3–4 hours before going to sleep.

It’s possible that a more supportive mattress may help ease symptoms of chronic pain to help you get a better night’s sleep.

The right mattress is one that is supportive and firm enough, while also being the right size.

Sometimes it’s necessary to try out a few brands before finding the right mattress for you. If you’re considering multiple mattresses, be sure you understand the trial periods, shipping, and return policies to avoid extra costs.

Kristeen Cherney is a freelance writer and PhD candidate who specializes in covering topics related to mental disabilities, women’s health, skin health, diabetes, thyroid disease, asthma, and allergies. She’s also currently working on her dissertation, which explores intersections of disability studies and literacy studies. When she’s not researching or writing, Cherney enjoys getting outdoors as much as possible. She also practices yoga and kick-boxing.