What is an Orthopedic Mattress?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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An orthopedic mattress is a special mattress designed to properly support the spine and back muscles. Sleeping on an orthopedic mattress is purported to relieve back and body pain and prevent future injuries that might result from sleeping without the spine in alignment. Most orthopedic mattresses use special foam and specific construction techniques that cause the mattress to form to the shape of the user’s body, in an attempt to support the spine, avoid putting stress on pressure points, and ensure a good night’s sleep.

There are several variations of orthopedic mattress, including latex or memory foam, air or water beds, and a special spring construction that is intended to be more supportive than the traditional inexpensive spring mattress. Memory and latex foam are known for their ability to contour to the body and then spring back without leaving lasting impressions on the foam. Air and water filled mattresses share that same ability, sinking in at points of heavy weight and then smoothing out when the weight is removed.


Some people also enjoy other benefits of orthopedic mattresses besides just spinal support. Most of the time, memory and latex foam mattresses neutralize the energy transfer of a partner’s movement into the bed, reducing the bouncing and sinking usually felt when a partner is tossing and turning close by. Water orthopedic mattresses, for this reason, are usually filled with a gel rather than water to eliminate the rippling and rolling that water beds are often known for. Air orthopedic mattresses typically use separately inflatable pockets of air rather than one large compartment for the entire mattress, and can also provide a similar benefit.

Orthopedic mattresses are usually more expensive than normal mattresses because of the materials used and the careful construction. Despite this, orthopedic mattresses are popular purchases, and many are very highly rated. Several reviewers expressed satisfaction at having paid more for better quality sleep each night. A few people who purchased an orthopedic mattress regretted the decision, but several times this had more to do with the construction of a specific model of mattress rather than its orthopedic effects. An extremely prevalent recommendation among both mattress distributors and purchasers is to get a good understanding of your own personal preferences about mattress firmness, thickness, and construction before buying an orthopedic mattress, as these preferences and expectations can have a huge effect on sleep quality and purchase satisfaction.


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