Is my Tempurpedic causing shoulder pain?

My wife and I (5’1" 115lb/5’10"174 lbs) have owned a Rhapsody Tempurpedic bed for over 3 years. About 6 months ago I started to experience shoulder pain that is slowly getting worse. We both are side sleepers. Is it possible my bed is causing should pain? If so does anyone have suggestions on how to translate my $expensive investment in a good night sleep into something that does not continue to degrade my body? I have read some forums suggesting to flip the mattress and add a Latex topper, which seems like it would provide a very similar sleep surface that I have now that might be causing the muscle pain.

Hi Fili,

While it’s certainly possible that the Tempurpedic could be causing shoulder pain … there is also a good chance that something else may be involved because the materials in the Rhapsody are not likely to have changed significantly enough after 3 years that this is the only cause of the problem.

I also think that flipping the mattress over and adding a topper would not be a great idea at all because a Tempurpedic is not designed to be used upside down with or without a topper and the memory foam layers that you would have on the bottom could introduce other issues and new problems. While this can be a solution in some more unusual circumstances or even be used as a way to test certain material combinations as a stepping stone to deciding on a layering configuration that may work in certain circumstances … it’s certainly not ideal as a long term solution on a one sided mattress in most cases.

The thickness and softness of the comfort layers in combination with the firmness of the layers below them usually determines how well a mattress relieves pressure in the shoulders. If the top layers are too thin and/or soft … particularly in combination with body types that have wider shoulders that need to sink in more … then it’s possible that someone could “go through” the comfort layers and be feeling the firmness of the deeper support layers below them. Sometimes this can also happen if the top layers soften and begin to allow you to sink through them more. in other cased the comfort layers are just too firm for the body type of the person (particularly with lighter peoples) and can lead to pressure issues by themselves.

In your case though … the comfort layers of the Rhapsody use high quality materials (1.2" of 5.3 lb memory foam and 2.8" of high quality 7 lb memory foam over firmer support layers) and once you have gone through the initial softening period they will only soften much more gradually. In “theory” you could have been so close to the edge of a layering combination that was suitable for you that even slight foam softening of the top layer could allow you to feel the firmness of the deeper layers below them (8 lb memory foam softens more slowly than lower density and generally feels firmer when you move or with the initial compression before it has a chance to soften with body heat) but the odds are probably better that some type of physical change in your needs or preferences or even in your typical sleeping positions are also happening here.

To the degree that it could be very slight foam softening causing the issue, and considering that the layering of the Rhapsody seemed to be suitable for the first 2.5 years (long after the initial softening would be complete) … I would suggest that a thin memory foam topper in the range of an inch or so, using memory foam in the range of 4 lbs or better (lower density is usually faster responding, more ventilating, and often feels softer than higher density memory foam), may have the best odds of fine tuning to the degree that may help you with the least possible risk to alignment. Of course this wouldn’t necessarily deal with any other factors that may be involved.

Some guidelines for choosing a topper are in post #8 here but I would tend to use the material that you are used to and comfortable with and it’s likely (outside of other factors and your own judgement about what may be happening and the “degree” of change you are looking for) that you are in the range of a “touch to a little” extra thickness and softness.

One other consideration that could be well worth considering is that this is a side effect of a pillow issue where your current pillow is no longer suitable or has softened to the degree that it is not keeping your head and neck in alignment and/or causing extra pressure on your shoulders because your head is not well enough supported by your pillow. This is likely the first thing I would test before adding a topper just to see if it helps.