What is an Orthopedic Mattress?

If getting out of bed in the morning is a painful experience, consider purchasing an orthopedic mattress. 

An orthopedic mattress offers support to joints while you sleep, taking away aches and pains in the morning and throughout the day. They can also result in more restful, pain-free sleep, so they’re recommended for anyone who experiences pain or could benefit from joint support, including active adults, athletes, and senior citizens. 

Orthopedic mattresses first were sold in the 1950s as a remedy for back pain. Once the mattress industry saw how well the orthopedic name sold, especially among those with bad backs, mattress manufacturers put orthopedic on their labels, too. That leads to the question of what makes a mattress an orthopedic one.  

Here at Best Mattress will review the term and provide a review for those who want a mattress that has orthopedic benefits and not just the marketing term on its label. 

Orthopedic Mattress 

A true orthopedic mattress provides proper support and promotes the alignment of the spine. Not only will that make you more comfortable as you sleep, but you’ll wake up without back pain, too. These mattresses also cradle pain points, providing pressure relief and reducing or eliminating joint pain.  

Look for certifications and approval from medical experts or organizations, which can lend credibility to orthopedic claims. 

 While any manufacturer could put “orthopedic” on their label, here are a few traits of true orthopedic mattresses. 

Pressure Points 

If you are a side sleeper, the hip that touches the bed may be a pressure point. During the night, your body weight pressing on that pressure point can cause pain or even damage, especially if your mattress is too firm. A mattress that’s too soft will also cause you discomfort. 

The secret is to find the “Goldilocks” mattress – not a firm mattress that’s too hard, not too soft, but just right for your body.  

Care for Your Spine 

What separates the orthopedic mattress from the rest is how it helps align the spine, even for side sleepers. Mattresses that are softer at the head and foot and firmer in the middle support the spine’s natural alignment, resulting in better back health and less pain throughout the day.  

Memory Foam 

After reading about the proper firmness of an orthopedic mattress, you may be wondering if a memory foam mattress would be automatically ruled out as orthopedic. Don’t rule out all memory foam mattresses, as some high-density models can provide relief of pain and pressure.  

Because body weight makes a sleeper sink into the latex foam, memory foam may not be best for those who are heavier or are hot sleepers. 

Memory Foam Mattress 

First developed by NASA research in the 1970s, memory foam is known for how the body sinks into it and how it cradles the body and its pressure points. For this reason, some memory foam mattresses can reduce pain. Since everyone is different, try out several mattresses including memory foam options to see which ones are best for you. 

This viscoelastic material also has less motion transfer, meaning that any tossing and turning won’t awaken your partner. Latex foam mattresses, like some innerspring mattresses, can be hypoallergenic, which will lessen respiratory issues while sleeping.  

Foam mattresses you order online usually have a warranty and can be returned within a certain period, so you can sleep on a memory foam mattress to see if it works for you. 


Pocket Spring  

Pocket spring mattresses can offer a greater level of firmness than memory foam mattresses, so often these come to mind when you’re shopping for an orthopedic mattress. Remember that not all pocket spring mattresses are orthopedic. Some extra firm models can be far too firm, and others can be softer than memory foam. 


For some sleepers, hybrids, or innerspring mattresses that contain memory foam, can offer the best of both types of mattresses. Again, trying out a mattress – preferably sleeping on one overnight – might be the best way to see what will provide you a good night’s sleep without pain. 

These mattresses, with their combination of memory foam on top of an innerspring core, offer mattress firmness that’s not too firm, which is what the best orthopedic mattresses offer.  

Opting for an Orthopedic Mattress 

No matter which types of mattresses you choose, orthopedic or hypoallergenic, foam or innerspring, or a combination, you’ll most likely find that a high-quality orthopedic mattress lasts for about 10 years. After that point, you’ll want to replace your orthopedic mattress for optimum results and to limit dust mite build-up. 

As you review orthopedic mattress options, remember that the term orthopedic may not mean it will deliver greater comfort and pain relief for your body shape. Instead, look for the best mattress for your overall body that will provide great support.  

The right amount of mattress firmness can result in a good night of restful sleep and less pain throughout the day. 

Depending on your unique needs, a spring mattress or latex mattress could provide help for your back issues and be the right mattress for you.