Medium-firm mattresses best for low back pain

November 13, 2003

The popular belief that firm mattresses are best for people with low back pain is challenged by the results of a randomised trial in this week's issue of THE LANCET. Mattresses of medium firmness were found to be more effective than firm mattresses in alleviating symptoms of back pain.

Evidence surrounding the optimum firmness of bed mattresses is lacking; previous research has shown how three-quarters of orthopaedic physicians recommended firm bed mattresses to counter patients' low back pain. Francisco Kovacs from the Kovacs Foundation, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and colleagues assessed the effect of different firmness of mattresses on the clinical course of patients with chronic non-specific low-back pain.

313 people had their own bed mattresses replaced with either a firm (rated 2.3 on a European scale of mattress firmness) or a medium-firm mattress (rated 5.6). Individuals were unaware of the type of mattress used in the study. Participants reported the degree of low back pain experienced whilst lying in bed and rising in the morning, as well as their degree of disability, before and three months after the start of the study.

Overall, people who used medium-firm mattresses in the study were twice as likely to report improvements in low back pain while lying in bed, when getting out of bed, and in disability associated with back pain; this was linked to a relative decrease in the need for pain-killing drug treatment.

Francisco Kovacs comments: "Our findings stress that recommendations for daily living, such as what kind of mattress to use, may have a relevant effect on the clinical course of low-back pain. The effects should be assessed with sound methods similar to those used for other medical treatments."

In an accompanying Commentary (p 1594), Jenny McConnell from the University of Melbourne, Australia, concludes: "Kovacs and colleagues' findings come as a relief for clinicians, who are not only struggling with the day to day management of patients with chronic low-back pain but are also constantly bombarded by the lack of efficacy of therapeutic interventions, which gives them few validated treatment options."
-end-
Contact: Juan Luis Recio, Berbes Asociados;
T) 34-91-563-2300;
F) 34-91-564-3558;
E) direccion@berbes.com

Dr Jenny McConnell, Centre for Sports Medicine Research and Education
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia;
T) 61-2-9968-4766;
F) 61-2-9958-3042;
E) jennymcconnell@bigpond.com

Lancet

Related Pain Articles from Brightsurf:

Pain researchers get a common language to describe pain
Pain researchers around the world have agreed to classify pain in the mouth, jaw and face according to the same system.

It's not just a pain in the head -- facial pain can be a symptom of headaches too
A new study finds that up to 10% of people with headaches also have facial pain.

New opioid speeds up recovery without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain
A new type of non-addictive opioid developed by researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System accelerates recovery time from pain compared to morphine without increasing pain sensitivity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

The insular cortex processes pain and drives learning from pain
Neuroscientists at EPFL have discovered an area of the brain, the insular cortex, that processes painful experiences and thereby drives learning from aversive events.

Pain, pain go away: new tools improve students' experience of school-based vaccines
Researchers at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have teamed up with educators, public health practitioners and grade seven students in Ontario to develop and implement a new approach to delivering school-based vaccines that improves student experience.

Pain sensitization increases risk of persistent knee pain
Becoming more sensitive to pain, or pain sensitization, is an important risk factor for developing persistent knee pain in osteoarthritis (OA), according to a new study by researchers from the Université de Montréal (UdeM) School of Rehabilitation and Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont Research Centre (CRHMR) in collaboration with researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

Becoming more sensitive to pain increases the risk of knee pain not going away
A new study by researchers in Montreal and Boston looks at the role that pain plays in osteoarthritis, a disease that affects over 300 million adults worldwide.

Pain disruption therapy treats source of chronic back pain
People with treatment-resistant back pain may get significant and lasting relief with dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation therapy, an innovative treatment that short-circuits pain, suggests a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 annual meeting.

Sugar pills relieve pain for chronic pain patients
Someday doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology.

Peripheral nerve block provides some with long-lasting pain relief for severe facial pain
A new study has shown that use of peripheral nerve blocks in the treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia (TGN) may produce long-term pain relief.

Read More: Pain News and Pain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.