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A quick look at the best orthopedic mattresses

Healthline’s picks for the 9 best orthopedic mattresses

Orthopedic mattress head-to-head comparison

MattressPriceTypeWarrantyTrial period
Saatva Classic Mattress$2,095hybridlifetime365 nights
DreamCloud Hybrid Mattress$1,332hybridforever warranty 365 nights
Solaire Adjustable Firmness Mattress (Upper Flex)$4,495adjustable hybridlifetime365 nights
Nectar Memory Foam Mattress$1,099memory foamforever 365 nights
One Foam Mattress by Casper$1,245memory foam10 years100 nights
Helix Midnight Mattress$1,373hybrid10 years100 nights
Purple RejuvenatePremier Mattress$7,495hybrid10 years 100 nights
Avocado Green Mattress$1,999-$3,599innerspring 25 years 1 year
WinkBed Mattress$1,799hybridlifetime120 nights

How we chose the best orthopedic mattresses

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 nontoxic.
  • Medium firmness: From a support perspective, medium-firm mattresses are ideal for joint and back pain.

What exactly is an orthopedic mattress?

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.

If you have joint pain, doctors tend to recommend mattresses with the following features:

  • medium-firm or firm support for healthy spinal alignment
  • reinforced padding, foam, or coils in the middle third of the mattress for lumbar back support
  • options for customization, like extra foam layers, remote-control adjustment capability, or an optional pillow topper
  • breathability so that you can get deep, prolonged, healthy sleep 

What about ergonomic mattresses?

“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.

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, which could place more stress on your joints. Adjustable beds could, in theory, solve the issue of ideal mattress firmness.

TLDR of orthopedic vs. traditional mattresses

Orthopedic mattresses are just traditional mattresses marketed as “orthopedic.” A mattress does not need to pass vetting by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to call itself an orthopedic mattress.

Mattresses recommended for those with back or chronic pain are generally medium-firm to firm, made with multiple reinforced foam layers or an advanced coil system for lumbar back support.

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How to shop for a supportive mattress

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.

Tips for improving sleep comfort

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 and night-time routine could also positively impact your sleep schedule. 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.
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Frequently asked questions about orthopedic mattresses

Research suggests medium-firm mattresses can promote comfort, quality of sleep, and back alignment.

If you have an orthopedic surgeon, you may want to ask them which specific product they recommend for you and what types of mattresses you should be avoiding. It’s safe to say that they probably won’t recommend sleeping on a low quality mattress or using your mattress past its recommended lifespan.

Orthopedists recommend buying a bed that’s as firm as you’re able to comfortably sleep on. That’s because over time, your mattress will begin to sink and get softer with consistent use. You don’t want to end up with a bed that’s too soft to sleep on after just 1 or 2 years. Beyond that, most doctors recognize that the bed you choose is a highly variable and personal decision.

Orthopedic mattresses aren’t always more expensive than what you might think of as a traditional mattress. If they cost more, it might be because the materials are more eco-friendly or durable. But spending more on a mattress just because it’s marketed as “orthopedic” doesn’t mean it will be worth it.

It’s important to read reviews like this one and shop around. Both can help when it comes to making big consumer decisions, like which mattress to buy.

You can start shopping for an orthopedic mattress by taking a look at our top picks above — we think they are all pretty great. You can also factor in your individual factors, including:

  • your sleeping position
  • whether or not you sleep with a partner
  • whether you tend to heat up when you sleep

Many mattresses out there will claim to provide back support. But remember to take other things into consideration as well.

And if you’re able to get out to a showroom and test-drive a mattress or two, you might get a clear idea of how much support you actually need.

We think any mattress on this list would be a great place to start your orthopedic mattress search. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all “best” mattress. Your budget, your body type, and your sleeping position are just a few of the things that can play into which mattress will be best for you.

Takeaway

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.