You may not want to get out of bed if your back hurts. But what do you do if it’s the mattress that causes or aggravates the back pain?
If you are not ready to get a new mattress, then a topper may suffice. A good mattress topper aligns your spine in its natural curve to alleviate existing pain and prevent new injuries.
So, what features matter when buying a topper? Are there specific models worth checking out? This review guide has everything that you need to know before hitting the market.
How to buy a mattress topper for back pain
Get the right material
Similar to mattresses, the market offers mattress toppers in a wide range of materials. You could choose between memory foam, latex, gel, wool, egg crate foam, cotton, and goose and down feather.
However, most health experts highly recommend memory foam and latex mattress toppers for back pain.
Here is the most obvious question racing in your mind, ‘’what makes these materials great for back pain and not the rest?’’ The most straightforward answer to this question is SUPPORT.
Cotton, featherbeds, and wool toppers are highly regarded when it comes to adding that squishy feeling to an already comfortable mattress. We can’t deny that these materials have an irresistible general plushy sensation due to their soft nature.
Most of them also have excellent breathability than the 2 materials that we are recommending here. They also make a great solution if you are afflicted by allergies.
However, albeit ticking almost all the right boxes in bringing you a comfortable topper, these materials lack one of the vital aspects that you really want for your bad back: support.
Needless to mention, this is where memory foam and latex mattress toppers have the upper hand. These toppers are highly regarded thanks to their ability to contour to your body structure. This promotes proper alignment of your neck, spine, and hip bones which is vital for pain alleviation.
Well, there’s much more to discuss each of these materials including their strengths and weaknesses. We will get into that very soon.
Let’s first understand other key features that you’ll need when screening the various options available.
Similar to buying a new mattress, thickness is a sink or swim metric that affects the level of support and comfort to a large extent.
Mattress toppers come in 3 basic thicknesses; 2, 3, and 4 inches. There are a few telltales that will help you to narrow down your options.
2-inch thickness– this is the thinnest you can go with a mattress topper. A 2-inch topper might be the ticket if what you need is to add a level of comfort to your overly firm mattress.
Do note that this site offers the least support since they tend to bottom out especially if you are a plus-size person. That being said, this is not a recommendable option if your mattress has lost out in terms of support.
3-inch thickness– this is a mid-range thickness level and has been a sweet spot for most people with various back issues. The thing with this thickness is that it strikes a balance between support and conformability.
Thus, the mattress contours around you to help relieve the pressure points and offers you optimum support to prevent you from sinking too deep into the mattress. This offers a superb alignment of your spine that you need for a good sleep.
4-inch thickness– a few decades ago, thicker mattress toppers were highly regarded as the best for back pain. In fact, several physicists still recommend them today.
Although the research is still limited, several findings suggest that most people actually report minimal discomfort when using a medium-level thickness than overly thick and thin alternatives.
Unlike a 3-inch topper, a 4-inch topper lacks the most needed contouring that you need for pain relief. Again, this thickness may also push against your already ailing pressure points- this is the last thing that you want.
Well, I don’t intend to mean that 4-inch mattress toppers are utterly useless. For instance, this thickness level may come into play especially if your old mattress has lots of pressed areas that lead to minimal support. A topper with a 4-inch thickness may help in flattening the mattress to offer you an even sleeping surface.
Most toppers range from 2lbs to 6lbs. Toppers with a density of 2-3lbs are generally ideal when you want to add a plush touch to your firm mattress. Mattress toppers with this firmness level are also the cheapest.
Unfortunately, these models don’t offer the required support that an ailing back requires. If anything, they may end up aggravating the pain since you may end up sinking too deep into them.
The medium-level density endows toppers weighing 3-5 pounds per cubic foot. This is the most recommendable level for people suffering from back pains. Toppers in this range are neither too soft nor too firm.
This means that they let your body to sink a tad bit while offering support at the same time. This ensures that your spine, neck, lower back, and shoulders stay in a perfect neutral alignment for optimum pain relief.
Climbing up the density rungs, the 6-pound density level is considered the highest density for a topper. Toppers at this level feel quite firm. They take some time to suck you in and might, therefore, fail to offer you the support that you need right off the bat.
Worth pointing out, a high-density topper might fit the bill if you have a less supportive mattress. Again, if you are a plus size individual and you sleep on your back, a high-density topper may fit you just right.
To recap what we’ve just said, if you feel ambiguous about the best thickness and density combination for your needs, we recommend you to consider a topper that lies in the middle of the 2 parameters.
Mind your weight
While we hugely recommend a topper with a medium-firmness and medium-density, such a topper may not suffice if you are an outsize. If you weigh over 250 pounds, a topper with a 4-inch (or above) thickness and a density of 6lbs might be the way to go.
After identifying the material and the right thickness and density combo, the next biggie feature is to go for a size that will fit your bed.
The good news here is that mattress toppers come in all sizes. As such, it’s very likely that you’ll get a brand with a model that ticks all the features in your wish list.
One major mistake that most people when buying a topper is failing to include their spouse’s needs into the mix.
If your partner finds the current situation of the mattress (whether old or new) great for his/her sleep, then adding a topper that runs across the entire bed may interfere with their comfort. Luckily, you could get a topper that covers your sleeping surface only.
Again, most toppers are also easy to cut with a large pair of scissors. As such, you could fit them anywhere, for instance, on your sofa bed or RV bed.
Sleeping hot is the major culprit for numerous turns and toss while sleeping. This not only interferes with the quality of your sleep but could also be a disturbance to your partner’s rest. That being said, you want a topper that won’t make you feel like you are sleeping in an oven.
It’s quite unfortunate that the best toppers for back pain (latex and memory foam) are also the worst in terms of heat dissipation.
However, most brands are putting out all the stops to minimize this issue. So, be open to toppers that try to create a cooler sleeping surface.
Trial and Error
Speaking to WebMD on the issue of Soft Bed or Hard Bed, Robert Molinari, who is the MD, and an associate professor of orthopedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center says that visiting a local store and trying out different toppers is, hands down, the best way to land on the ideal topper for your needs.
You may also want to note any mattress and mattress topper that relieves your back pain if you are sleeping in a hotel or a friend’s house.
Another alternative is to consider a brand that allows you to test-drive the topper and ship it back if it does not suit your needs. Most of them offer a 30-100-day window for this purpose which is quite good.
Other buyers’ reviews and feedbacks
Sure, never despise other buyers’ view of how the mattress topper made them feel. Scan through as many feedbacks as possible from several online stores including Walmart and eBay.
Well, I don’t advise you to blindly take every reviewer’s word for it. But be open to both criticisms and praises. A feature that stands out from most reports is very likely to be true about the topper.
Best Mattress Topper for Back Pain
Most people including Sleep Specialist swear by memory foam mattresses and toppers in terms of back pain relief and comfort.
When buying a memory foam topper for back pain relief, it’s important that you consider a model that is dense enough to offer your back enough support. Importantly, it shouldn’t be so firm to make it overly uncomfortable.
As we said before, consider a mattress with the medium-level thickness (3-4 inches) and medium-firmness (4-5.5lbs).
- Responds to your body temperature to offer a true body fit
- Provides pain-relief comfort
- Has excellent motion transfer resistance
- Has no allergies
- It’s durable
- Retains heat
- May be hotter or cooler than expected according to the weather
- Plus size people may have to spend on pricey thicker and denser toppers for good support
- Most of them have odors
Best Memory Foam Mattress topper for back pain LUCID 3″ Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper
This Lucid memory foam mattress topper is right in the middle of the thickness spectrum thanks to its 3-inch thickness. This thickness makes it a great option for people who want a topper that will add an average amount of support and comfort to their firm mattress.
While our recommendation here is a medium 3’’ thick model, this topper also offers a 2-inch thick alternative for those who want more comfort rather than support.
The 3-inch topper will let your shoulder and hips to sink in without bottoming out. This means that the topper will contour around your body and pressure points to offer constant support as you rest.
Memory foam mattresses are known for retaining heat. To curb this menace, the Lucid 3 has been infused with gel. The aim here it to dissipate the heat from the sleeping surface and help you sleep a little bit cooler.
In addition to this, this memory foam has hundreds of ventilation holes that boost air circulation. Although some users report that it sleeps hot, most of them praise the level of comfort and support that it adds.
We also like that the odors disappear rather quickly. As such, you won’t have to wait for long before treating your back to a pain-free nap.
- Odor dissipates quickly
- Has a layer of gel and ventilation holes to aid in airflow
- Medium-level thickness contours to your body curves for optimum pain relief
- Comes in all sizes
- Heavy people may find it too soft
- Stains easily (a cover will be necessary)
Latex Mattress Toppers
Latex has curved out a niche for itself as the best material for a bad back. And it’s not hard to see the reason behind this thinking.
You see the major difference between memory foam and latex is that while both of them conform to your body shape, the latter tends to ‘push back’ against you. That’s why latex mattresses are often said to be a little bit on the firmer side.
This natural springiness behavior of latex means that the topper is more responsive than memory foam. As such, latex offers you constant support even as you turn or change positions.
- Have minimal heat retention
- Promotes pain relief through natural spine alignment
- Quick response means that you get constant supply
- Has no petroleum product odors
- Naturally resistant to molds and dust mites
- Some people are allergic to latex
Best Latex topper for back pain – Pure Green Latex Mattress Topper – Firm – 3″ (100% Natural Latex)
This Pure Green is among the most affordable latex toppers that we found in its category. It has a thickness of 3 inches and a density of 5.9lbs per cubic foot. These 2 dimensions make it a superb choice for a sagging mattress that has become overly soft over time.
Again, its density promises you an extra firm support. This might be a good choice for people who enjoy sleeping on firm mattresses. In addition, its 44 ILD (Indentation Load Deflection) suggests that it might be a good buy for plus size weighty individuals.
Among other things, we do like that Pure Green won’t subject you to fumes like a memory foam topper would do. In fact, there wasn’t even a single complaint about bad odors when writing this.
Again, only a few people reported sleeping hot on this topper. This topper’s thickness and density mean that you won’t be trapped inside the topper.
Whether you are a side or a back snoozer, this topper contours to your body to help eliminate all pain and tension around your pressure points and muscles. Thanks to its natural springiness design, Pure Green offers constant support– this is ideal especially for people with chronic back pain.
Worth mentioning is that Pure Green latex topper does not come with a cover. In addition, there are reports of it staining easily. So, it’s imperative that you add a cover to the cart.
- Minimal heat retention
- Excellent thickness-density combo for heavy people
- No odors whatsoever
- It’s durable
- It’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial
- It’s pricey
- Its construction makes it quite hard for petite people
- Not ideal for people who are allergic to latex
Best Price Memory Foam Mattress Topper (4-inch)
In case you found Pure Green Latex topper above a bit firm or somewhat pricey for your budget, this Best Price Memory foam mattress topper might be a perfect match but at a budget price.
It is way affordable than our previous recommendation and has a superb thickness for all the support that a bad back needs. What we like with this topper is that unlike Pure Green above, this one has a good amount of comfort too. So, you won’t feel like you are sleeping on concrete.
But what’s quite unique about it is its dual-layer construction. Although it is a 4-inch topper, it offers two firmness levels to allow you to switch as you wish.
One side has a 1.5-inch thickness. This might be ideal if you have minor back pains and prefer the softness of memory foam. Turning the mattress offers you a 2.5-inch thickness. This might be great if you are suffering from mid to high back pains and you want a little bit more of support besides comfort.
Best Price has good conforming abilities and may speed the healing process. It also has excellent motion isolation that offers you a peaceful haven from your partner’s turns and tossing.
We also appreciate that Best Price comes with a zippered polyester mesh cover for hygienic purposes and to protect the topper from stains.
Without forgetting, this topper is CertiPUR-US certified and comes with a rock-solid 5-year warranty.
- 2-sided with varying thickness levels
- Offers good support for excellent for back and shoulder pain relief
- Great construction with a 5-year warranty
- Crafted from safe ingredients (CertiPur-certified)
- Comes with a zippered cover
- Has some odors
- Mixed reactions about its firmness (may be thinner or thicker)
Sure2Sleep 3-Pound Gel Memory Foam Topper
Rarely do we recommend 2-inch thick mattress toppers for back pain relief. But the Sure2Sleep is an exceptional pick.
This topper flaunts premium pressure relieving high-density memory foam that is CertiPur-US certified. Its 2-inch thickness and 3-pound density is a unique blend that works like a charm for spine, shoulders, and hip conformability.
Its 3-pound density also offers you enough support for inch-perfect pressure point and back pain relief. To add on to its unique thickness-density blend, Sure2Sleep has also been infused with gel. This helps in regulating airflow and offering you a cool sleeping surface.
What are the previous users saying?
The Sure2Sleep has received lots of praise from its previous reviewers. Its 4.5/5 star rating from close to four hundred buyers proves this.
One thing that stands out from the feedback is that this topper comes true to size. On this note, it’s worth noting that it comes in king, California, queen, full, twin, and twin XL. Most people also affirm that it has a firm yet gentle support for hip and back pain.
- It’s durable
- Backed by a 3-year replacement warranty
- Gel-infused for heat dissipation
- Relatively affordable for what it offers
- Not ideal for heavy people
- Has a smell (fades away after several days)
Ultimate Dreams 3″ Latex Mattress Topper
Are you looking for an affordable latex mattress topper for your ailing back and old mattress? I bet you’ll find it quite hard to resist the bargain price that this Ultimate Dreams comes at. Honestly speaking, this is among a few other latex toppers that offer you a 3-inch and medium-firmness at this price.
The Ultimate Dreams is made from Talalay latex. Although this isn’t as eco-friendly as Dunlop, the main advantage that you get here is a unique softness that Dunlop can’t offer. The Talalay process used here allows you to sink like you would on memory foam whilst receiving the constant support of latex thanks to its 28 ILD.
This is excellent for easing joint pain, minimizing joint inflammation, and improving blood circulation. Among its highlights, this mattress topper has a better airflow than most memory foam alternatives of its size.
It has numerous ventilation holes to help minimize the heat from your sleeping surface. We also like that it is naturally resilient to dust mites and other allergens. This is good news for sleepers who are looking for an affordable mattress for allergies.
While our recommendation here is a medium-firm model, Ultimate Dreams is also available in soft and firm alternatives. However, we did found a few complaints about these other options being either too soft or too firm.
- Good durability expectations
- Breathes well to allow you a cool sleep
- Great thickness-density combo for back pain relief
- Allows different sleeping positions
- Some sleepers may be allergic to latex
- It’s on the pricey side
It’s advisable to seek medical attention for your chronic upper and lower back pains. However, adding a mattress topper to your bed is a great step towards mitigating this issue.
As the reviews above prove, the market has an ideal option for everyone. You only need to pick a model with the right thickness-density combination in regard to your mattress, weight, and sleeping style.
If you need extra help in picking the best from the above recommendations, our suggestion would be the Best Price memory foam mattress topper.
Among its other highlights, we appreciate its thickness and high-density blend that offers amazing body-conforming abilities and good support. This might help in aligning your spine and backbones to relieve muscle tension. It also has good motion isolation to keep your partner’s disturbing toss and turns at bay.