Could Your Mattress Be Causing Back Pain?

Mattresess that are too old may well cause back pain and even neck pain as well as other health problems. Take our test to see if your mattress is too old.

It is quite common for back pain sufferers to experience disturbed sleep. In a recent study, approximately two thirds of patients with chronic back pain reported sleeping disorders. Research has highlighted that disrupted sleep can exacerbate chronic back problems, forming a vicious cycle where back pain disrupts sleep, and poor sleep can make the pain worse. Only 11% of people renew a bed because it has become uncomfortable.

Is your bed too old? Take our test.

Is the bed 10 years old or more?

Do you wake up with back or neck ache?

It the mattress cover torn or stained?

When lying in bed can you feel spings or ridges?

When moving in bed can you hear squeaks or crunches?

Do you roll towards the middle?

Is the bed too small to give an undisturbed night?

Is the divan or base uneven or sagging?

Are the legs and castors worn out?

If you answered yes to a few of these questions then these tips may help you choose a better bed?

Night Time Trivia

We toss and turn up to 70 times a night.

We lose up to half a pint of perspiration, most of it into the mattress.

We grow up to 2 cm overnight as our discs expand.

It is quite common for back pain sufferers to experience disturbed sleep. In a recent study, approximately two thirds of patients with chronic back pain reported sleeping disorders. Research has highlighted that disrupted sleep can exacerbate chronic back problems, forming a vicious cycle where back pain disrupts sleep, and poor sleep can make the pain worse. Only 11% of people renew a bed because it has become uncomfortable.

Good beds improve sleep

What you sleep on can make a big difference to the quality of sleep you get and how well you function during the daytime. Sleep is an essential part of life, with the average person spending a third of their lives sleeping. It is the time when bodies and minds rest and rejuvenate.

A lack of sleep can contribute to poor health and increased muscle fatigue and pain. Your spine in particular benefits greatly from adequate rest and sleep, as it works hard during the day providing support for the body and its functions. Uncomfortable sleeping surfaces can make it difficult to obtain rest needed, even for those without pain.

Choosing a mattress

Most beds have a lifespan of 10 years, and some cheaper ones considerably less. A good mattress will allow you to maintain the same natural spinal alignment that you have when you are standing. When your body is allowed to rest in its natural position, your muscles are relaxed and sleep is more refreshing.

A few points to keep in mind when looking for a new mattress are the type, the foundation, firmness, comfort and durability.

Types of mattress

There are many different types available, ranging from inner-spring, memory foam, latex, flotation (water beds) and air mattresses. The inner-spring mattresses may offer more flexibility in terms of support and firmness, many people find other mattress types just as comfortable. The best mattress is one that offers you the most comfort and support.

For most people the best choice is either a good quality pocket sprung mattress or memory foam one. Memory foam molds to the shape of your body and provides excellent support. Organic latex is also a good option if you don’t want the chemicals often used on memory foam.

Bed Foundation

Often called the box spring, this portion of the bed does much of the hard work for the mattress, absorbing stress and weight. The correct foundation can extend the life of a mattress by giving it more support. Using old or no foundations can negatively affect the level of support and durability of your mattress. Try whenever possible to purchase the box spring or foundation designed to go with your mattress.


The saying that firmer mattresses are better is not necessarily true. A mattress that is too firm does not support the body evenly, tending to only properly support the body’s heaviest parts. In contrast, a mattress that is too soft will sag and prevent the spine from maintaining proper alignment. Neither situation allows your muscles and body to rest sufficiently, as they must work throughout the night to find a comfortable position and maintain correct posture.


The best thing to do when shopping for a bed is to try it out. Lie down in the position you usually sleep in, and turn over from side to side. If you sleep with a partner, try the bed together to ensure there is enough space for you both to move around and the mattress doesn’t sag, causing you to meet in the middle. Make sure it can support your natural spinal position.

It is worth bearing in mind that different manufacturers use different terminology for firmness and comfort, such as “orthopaedic”. This term is often used by manufacturers but does not have any actual medical meaning. By trying out the mattress before you buy, you will be able to find the most comfortable one for you. If anything, most people, even back sufferers, don’t need a firm bed. A medium one will do just fine


This covers how long the materials will last. Look for quality materials for the core as well as cover. Check if the manufacturers offer a warranty in case of defects. Prices are based on mattress materials, quality of construction and size.

If your mattress is more than 10 years old, you wake up tired and achey, the box springs squeak, the mattress sags or your bed is uncomfortable, it is likely you need to replace your it.

For more information on correct sleeping posture and using the correct pillows, ask us here at Sundial.

Back pain, will a chiropractor get it better?

If you go to see a chiropractor for back pain treatment in Brighton one of the important questions you want answered is “Will  a chiropractor help me get better?”  This is an important question for chiropractors too. If our treatment is not going to be effective we want to refer you quickly to another treatment.

This is a hot topic in the research at the moment. Back treatment studies are popping up all over the world trying to answer the question “who is likely to get better when they see a chiropractor for back pain?”

It is a hard question to answer because there are lots of different causes of back pain, people have different lifestyles, respond to care differently and some people don’t do their exercises!

So what are the results from these studies going back 25 years. Back sufferers who do worse tend to have more severe pain for a longer period. So far no surprises. People who have more than 30 days pain in the last year are more likely to carry on having pain. Being in work seems to help and curiously so does moderate alcohol consumption in more longstanding back pain.

Perhaps the most interesting findings are that your expectation of whether you will get better affects whether you will get better. If your clinician expects you to get better you are more likely to do well too. So being optimistic and being given a good prognosis help you get rid of back pain quickly.

Also if your back pain improves well in the first few treatment visits with a chiropractor then that means you are likely to have a better outcome. In fact if you have a recent bout of back pain between 60% and 80% of people are significantly better after 4 visits. These results are broadly similar for other conditions like neck pain, disc problems and whiplash.

28% of people will see a GP for back pain. And 10% of people now seek care from practitioners like chiropractors for back pain. In some areas chiropractic is available on the NHS but, sadly, not in Brighton.

Oh and one last thing. People did better if they felt that they got enough time with the chiropractor. So if you feel you would like more time at your next appointment just mention it when you book and we will happily give you a longer appointment at no extra fee.

If you haven’t been in before but would like to know if our physio’s or chiropractors in Brighton can help you then give us a call for free check. We’d love to see you.


Proceedings of College of Chiropractors Annual Conference, RCOG, London, Feb 1st 2012

Chronic pain relief

Natural pain reliefChronic pain can become the problem itself. Pain is always a problem but what happens when you have so much pain for so long that your body adapts to it? This is what happens with chronic or persistent pain. Your body creates new nerve pathways that make the pain a near permanent feature. This is called allodynia.


If you suffer an injury like a bad back or neck or even a sprained ankle it usually gets better within a week or two. If, however, the problem does not get better and the pain persists the nerves that carry the pain messages to the spinal cord and brain start to change. They begin to need less and less of a stimulus to trigger a pain message firing of to the brain. If this continues eventually the nerve starts firing by itself without any injury stimulus. People suffering from this complain that even normal stimuli cause extreme pain.

At Sundial we often see people who have had pain for years but on seeing a doctor are told that nothing is wrong. X-rays or MRI scan show nothing. They know something is wrong because they are not making it up and it jolly well hurts. On hearing about persistent pain syndromes like allodynia they are often quite pleased. At last, a diagnosis.

Solution for chronic pain

Fortunately there is often a solution to this sort of chronic pain. Pain-killers can help, but often people have been taking these for years with little long-term relief. Talking therapies like CBT can help as often the depression that goes along with ongoing pain can aggravate the symptoms. Physical therapies like chiropractic and physiotherapy can also help.

In chronic low back pain for instance manipulating the previously injured joint, the ones that were damaged in the first place, can often bring useful relief. It is thought that the treatment does this by firing the movement sensors in the muscles and other soft tissues which send messages into the spinal cord and brain in a similar way to the pain sensors. This seems to have a calming effect on the pain messages so the pain diminishes.

Exercises can also have a similar effect. A physio will advise what exercise are best to do and what level intensity to start at. Start at too advanced a level and you may not improve at all. Indeed you can overwhelm the nerves themselves leading to a worsening of the discomfort. The exercises will be carefully planned to gradually improve your strength and flexibility and so stimulate the nerves in the correct way to damp down the chronic pain messages and restore a pain-free life.

Other treatments that may help include acupuncture or laser therapy. They can be used in conjunction with other treatments. Indeed, mosh people need several approaches all at once to get relief. Even so it can take months to feel significant benefit.

If you would like an assessment here at Sundial to see if we can help your chronic pain, then give us a call – we’d love to help.

If you want to see a video of one of the leading experts in the field talking about allodynia then click below. His clear explanation of the science behind it is the best I have seen.