What is an Orthopedic Mattress?

4.7/5 - (15 votes)

            The term orthopedic is used to address items that offer support to the joints and bones in a manner that helps with alignment and can reduce pain. As this applies to almost any quality, well made, and well-designed mattress, the term is not as important as the details that it represents. For a true orthopedic mattress, it must be supportive of the contours of the body and help keep the spine properly aligned.

Materials Used in Orthopedic Mattresses

              There is no one specific material that is used in creating an orthopedic mattress, but there are materials that are commonly used due to the support that they offer. These materials include inner springs, memory foam, pillow top made from foam or other cushy materials, or a combination of these materials.

  • Innerspring mattresses are a traditional form of mattress, but the pocket coils have brought vast improvements to support for the spine and the joints. As each coil moves independently of the others they adjust to the form of the body and curve to match the body shape, offering even support across the entire mattress and fully supporting all areas of the body. With coil springs each coil can be individualized to offer varying amounts of support where it is needed most, often firmer support for hips and shoulders with gentler support for knees and legs. They can be adapted across the mattress to offer different levels of support in zoned areas as needed to maintain full support of the spine and the joints.
  • Memory foam is a foam that is created to remember its original shape and size even after use, so it offers even support night after night. This foam can be made in different densities to offer different levels of support, from a soft foam that cradles the body to a denser foam that offers firm support. When considering a memory foam mattress for orthopedic use it can be beneficial to find one with varying types of foam in the same mattress to offer firm support where needed to support the spine in its natural alignment but to be softer and form to the body around the head and other areas requiring less support and more comfort.
  •   A pillow top will have a layer of soft padding and cushion over the springs or memory foam for a softer top that you can sink into, with the support of the coils or foam underneath to ensure your alignment is supported.
  • Many mattresses will combine the support of a pocket coil with the added comfort and support of a memory foam layer over them. This can offer a balance of both support and cushion for the body where the memory foam dissipates any pressure points on the body caused by the springs. These may also be covered with a pillow top for those wanting a softer and more cushioned top. Either the memory foam or the coil springs can be created in a way to offer different levels of support for different areas of the body allowing it to offer both support and contoured comfort.

Extra Features to Look For

              When you choose a mattress it is an investment in both health and comfort that will last for years. This is an important time to consider if you want the basic that will help you sleep better or if you want one that has some extra features for increased comfort and maybe increase the life span of your mattress.

  • If you tend to get hot when you sleep then a mattress made with light materials for a cover and mesh sides, or with air vents along the length of the mattress sides will increase airflow through the mattress and keep the mattress cooler than it otherwise would be. Another alternative is a layer of cooling gel with the memory foam, this layer will not heat to the body temperature as others do, maintaining a cooler sleeping experience.
  •   Those with back pain may find more comfort in a firmer mattress. These will offer increased support for the back and joints, relieving pain and discomfort, so a firmer mattress may be more beneficial. In this case, a pillowtop is not preferred, but a memory foam that is stronger and denser will help. Some memory foam tops have zoned pressure areas where the top of the foam is shaped in waves, eggshells, or other shapes that are created to relieve pressure and increase comfort. As they contour to the shape of the body the spine and joints are supported and the spine is kept in a properly aligned position, and the extras in the top layer will increase blood flow.
  •   A memory foam mattress that has multiple layers of different densities and types of foam has the benefits of each type of foam, making it both supportive and comfortable, cool but welcoming, and will offer support to the spine while providing soft molded comfort for the joints and head.
  • Many mattresses are being created with extras even in the cover. The materials used are light and soft, hypoallergenic, and even made to deter dust mites. This creates a safe and clean sleeping environment that is safe for those who have any allergies and respiratory concerns. Some may come with silver or other antibacterial or even antimicrobial additives to help deter illness and keep the mattress a healthy haven of rest. The extra layer of protection is beneficial to people in all climates and all ages.

How to Choose Your Orthopedic Mattress

              When selecting your orthopedic mattress the first step is to assess your needs and any aches and pains within your body. Once you have determined the level of support you need, whether it be soft, semi-firm, or firm, you can begin to find a mattress that fits your needs.

  • Choosing a mattress that has added features that will make you more comfortable will boost your sleep, such as a hypoallergenic cover and air vents through the mattress to allow airflow through the mattress.
  • If sharing the bed with another person a pocket coil or other form of mattress that has a low transference rate. This keeps the movements of one person from interrupting the sleep of another person by keeping the movements contained to only the coils or foam that is directly affected. A night of uninterrupted sleep is best for a body to do its healing.
  • Many mattresses now come with a guarantee allowing you to try them at home for a few weeks or even months, to see if it is the right fit for you. This type of guarantee is a good opportunity to try a new mattress that meets all your needs and see if it fits well. The body takes a few weeks, at least two to three, in order to adjust to a new mattress so a longer trial period will offer a better conclusion.

Standard and Rolled Shipping

              When you receive your orthopedic mattress there two main ways that it is shipped, and that depends upon what mattress you choose. A traditional spring mattress may be delivered full size wrapped in plastic, it is simply removed from the plastic and placed on the box spring or bed frame. A memory foam or mattress with pocket coils and memory foam is often shipped rolled and vacuum sealed for protection against dirt and the elements during shipping. This type of shipping is space saving and environmentally friendly, to unroll simply remove it from the box, open the plastic, and let it sit for eight to seventy-two hours for it to return to its natural size and shape. Most can be slept on the night of delivery but will continue to rise for three days after.

  • There are many reasons to use an orthopedic mattress and many options to choose from. For the right fit for your needs find one that is the correct mix of firm support and comfort with no pressure points to increase pain and discomfort. The role of an orthopedic mattress is to offer support and maintain the spine’s alignment during sleep and restful hours. It must be firm enough to support the spine and the joints in the correct positions while being comfortable enough to avoid pain.
  • An orthopedic mattress is beneficial for anyone with back pain, joint pain, headaches, and health concerns such as arthritis and body pain. The support and alignment will allow the joints and spine to rest in their correct alignment which reduces the pressure on them, reducing pain and protecting the joints and cartilage.

              Your mattress should be replaced every seven to ten years for a traditional mattress and up to fifteen for a memory foam mattress or a combined pocket coil with memory foam. Choosing the right mattress is a long term investment for the next ten to fifteen years of your life so it is important to find the right one, and a trial period can help to be certain that you have found the right one.