What is an Orthopedic Bed?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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There are generally two common types of orthopedic beds. Conventional orthopedic bed sets are manufactured and designed so they avoid putting pressure on any special part of the body. They are intended to offer smooth, even support. The other type of orthopedic bed is called a contoured orthopedic bed, and they are usually made of latex foam that will mold to the shape of the body. Both types are generally considered superior to conventional type mattresses, and that perceived superiority is usually reflected in the price.

The primary benefit gained from using an orthopedic bed seems to be a reduction in pain associated with muscular skeleton disorders. Most conventional beds force the spine to conform to the mattress; however, orthopedic beds do the opposite — they conform to the spine of the sleeper. This takes away much of the strain that sometimes occurs during sleep. People have no control over body contortions while they are sleeping and often end up spending hours in positions that are unnatural to the spine. In addition, orthopedic beds are particularly favored by people who share their bed with another, because they typically reduce nighttime tossing and turning.


In addition to spinal support, orthopedic beds seem to offer a better night’s sleep. Many users report fewer incidences of waking up at night, and claim to feel more rested when they get up in the morning. Some doctors recommend orthopedic beds for patients who have problems sleeping or who suffer from back pain. Arthritis sufferers may also benefit from an orthopedic bed because they tend to put less pressure on joints.

Contour type orthopedic beds are usually made of a material called memory foam. Memory foam was invented in the late 1960s by an American engineer named Charles Yost. He originally developed the material while under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Memory foam was originally intended to be used for seat cushions inside spacecraft. Now the latex foam is used in a wide variety of ways, but most notably in the manufacture of orthopedic beds.

Orthopedic beds were once a rarity, and typically had to be special ordered from medical supply centers. The price of these beds were considered prohibitive, so many people who actually needed them were unable to afford the cost. Now orthopedic beds are commonly sold at most furniture retailers worldwide, and they are generally more affordable. They are available in the same standard sizes as conventional bedding, including king, queen, double, and twin.


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Post 6

@turquoise: I had similar issues. My doctor told me the same regarding the mattress not being too hard or soft. Seems a hard mattress will actually exert tremendous pressure so memory foam could be the way to go.

Post 4

The best type of bed for back problems is one certified by Oeko-tex (look it up), which does not have any toxic substances in the manufacturing of the bed in the complete bedding system. It should be accepted by the Health department as a health product. Unfortunately, in Australia, there is no such classification, unlike in Europe.

Post 3

@anamur-- I recommend an orthopedic bed made of memory foam. If you must get one with springs (which should be the last option), make sure it's made of thick wires because it will be firmer.

Post 2

@anamur-- The mattress you choose should definitely have spinal support. As for the softness, my doctor told me that the mattress should not be too hard or too soft. Apparently, our spine should be sinking into the mattress just a little bit for best support.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to this though. So whichever softness you're used to and most comfortable with, that's what you should go for. Sometimes what the doctor prescribed may not work for you.

Mattress is important and I don't think that someone who has spinal issues should use anything other than an orthopedic bed. But how you use that bed can be equally important. I have chronic shoulder and neck

pains and I do have an orthopedic bed. But I also support my bed with orthopedic pillows, I change the position of the mattress every three months and I make sure to sleep on my sides or on my back and never on my stomach.

Post 1

I was recently diagnosed with a herniated disc in my back and I'm not as comfortable in my regular bed as I used to be. I go to bed pain free but wake up with a terrible back ache in the morning. I'm thinking about getting an orthopedic mattress for this reason.

What's the best type of orthopedic bed for back problems? How hard or soft should the mattress be?

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