Mattress suggestion for scoliosis and sciatic pain?

My husband and I are shopping for a new mattress. I was recently(a year ago) diagnosed with scoliosis and a herniated disc between my L4 and L5 which causes me sciatic pain. I am seeing a chiropractor which has really helped but our bed is causing me aches and pains in the morning. My chiropractor wants me to sleep on my side with a body pillow and it has helped but I’ve fallen back into the habit of stomach sleeping, which jams up my neck and spine, because I just can’t get comfortable anymore. I have been looking into buying a memory foam but after reading some posts here it seems a latex option would be better. My husband is 27 and around 250 and I am 26 and 200 lbs. This is a silly question, but I have to ask for the sake of my husband. He has an allergy to latex but he won’t be affected because the latex layers are covered, right? I’m just feeling confused because I had my heart set on a Comforpedic mattress but now I’m not sure what is best for us. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hello LadyK,

First about the latex allergy question. While it is a complex subject, the essence of it is that there are basically 3 types of latex allergy or sensitivity (although two of them aren’t really an allergy to latex).

The first of these is irritant contact dermatitis which usually comes from an actual irritation to the skin such as from repeated donning of latex gloves or exposure to the powder on them often in combination with skin sweating or frequent hand washing. This is a result of physical skin irritation and wouldn’t apply to latex foam.

The second and most common of the “latex allergies” contact dermatitis allergies (type IV latex allergy) which is most likely a reaction to the chemicals additives or substances that are added to the latex in the manufacturing process and not the latex itself. This is more prevalent for those who have handled latex in various occupations over a period of time (such as health care workers using latex gloves). This is the less severe of the types of “latex allergies” and while it is not “common” it is also not so rare … particularly among certain occupations. Because latex foam has had most of the surface proteins and any remaining unreacted materials washed away during manufacturing (unlike other types of non foamed latex like gloves, condoms, balloons etc.), this is far less common with latex foam. This type of “latex allergy” is a contact allergy (or sensitivity) and the fact that most of the surface proteins and additives are washed away and that the latex is covered makes this type of allergy much less of an issue with latex mattresses. There is more detailed information and links in this thread and latex foam is not mentioned in any of the literature I’ve seen or linked as a possible source of this type of allergy.

The last type of latex allergy is type 1 which is much more rare but much more serious. This type of allergy can cause an anaphylactic reaction with breathing difficulties and swelling and like a bee sting in a small portion of the population can be life threatening. These people are almost always very aware of their allergy and have to go to great extremes to avoid natural latex which is very difficult because it is so widely used in our society. They for example have to check in restaurants where they eat that the workers aren’t wearing gloves with latex or they could have a severe reaction. Most people that sell latex mattresses can go a lifetime without ever seeing this type of latex allergy. This would be connected to the proteins found in natural latex which would be missing in synthetic latex.

There is more information and a brief description of each of these here. There is also some good information here with a list of symptoms for each type along with more information about testing for latex allergies or contact sensitivities.

There is also much more information about latex allergies in this topic and the many other sources of information that it links to as well.

In most cases … latex can actually help more common allergies because it is resistant to dust mites which are a leading cause of allergies in the population (see post #2 here). Strangely enough … there are certain allergies and certain conditions that can go hand in hand with latex allergies. Those with Spina Bifida for example have a much higher incidence and allergies to banana, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit, mango, passionfruit, strawberry, and soy can all go hand in hand with it as well and is called the latex-fruit syndrome. There is a good Wikipedia article about latex allergies here and there is also a lot more information on various medical sites across the web.

More about the rest of your questions in the next post.


Hello again LadyK,

The difficulty with memory foam and back issues is that it has no supportive qualities and is completely dependent on the layers below it to keep your spine in alignment. If the memory foam layers on top are too thick … they will not prevent the hips from sinking in too far and causing misalignment. This is particularly an issue with those who are combination sleepers on their stomach as the stomach sleeping position is particularly prone to the hips sinking in too far and needs a thinner firmer upper layer while side sleeping needs a thicker comfort layer to relieve pressure.

Combination side/stomach sleepers usually do best with a more supportive material like latex and then using the thinnest firmest comfort layer that relieves pressure on the side. If pressure is not relieved when sleeping on the side … there is a natural tendency to move into other “flatter” and “familiar” positions to relieve the pressure.

In addition to this … many memory foam mattresses … particularly lower density memory foams under 5 lbs … are not so durable and with weights over 200 lbs will not last as long as other more durable materials or higher density memory foam.

Your chiropractors suggestion is a good one (not surprisingly) because the side position is easier on the spine and the body pillow can help prevent turning onto the stomach. If you tend to move into a half stomach/half side position (with the top leg bent and raised towards your head) then the pillow can help keep you on your side or help support the top leg and keep your spine from twisting as much.

Many of the ComforPedic memory foam mattresses also contain 3.5 lb memory foam and low density polyfoam which would make me very wary because low density/quality foam is particularly subject to early softening and breakdown … particularly with heavier weights. The Comforpedics are are also overpriced when compared to higher quality and value mattresses that use the same or better quality materials.
These guidelines may be helpful and help you avoid many of the “tricks and traps” of the industry and keep you away from the mass marketing outlets which sell major brand mattresses with lower quality materials and/or inflated prices. Local manufacturing is usually the best source of quality and value in a mattress and if you let me know the city you live in I’d be happy to take a look to see if I know of any in your area.


Hi Phoenix,
After reading more posts here on the forum I am sold on the idea of a latex mattress. I would like more suggestions on what would be the best for my situation. I live in Albuquerque, NM. I read a few posts recommending Aspen and Snowmass from Denver Mattress Co at Furniture Row and I will definitely go test them out but if you have any other suggestions in my area I would love to hear them. Thank you so much for your help. :slight_smile:

Hi LadyK,

Some of your better options or possibilities include …

Denver Mattress® - The Easiest Way to Get the Right Mattress (as you mentioned) Albuquerque, Santa Fe, NM. They make a range of innerspring mattresses that use good quality materials and have some good value. They also make their iChoice which is a mostly latex mattress that has either a latex or a memory foam topper. I would ignore the major brands they also carry.

There are several other retailers that may also be worth visiting … Albuquerque, Santa Fe. Small factory direct manufacturer who makes talalay latex mattresses in a single 6" core or in 3 x 3" layers. While these are good quality materials … the prices listed on their website are high so they may be a better testing ground for latex than a place to purchase and I would make some careful value comparisons. Albuquerque. They are a retail outlet for Savvy Rest which also makes 3 x 3 layered mattresses in either Dunlop or Talalay latex. While they are also more expensive than other outlets including several of our members … they would also make a good place to test various latex layering combinations but I would make some careful value comparisons before making a purchase here as well.

Some additional retail options that may also be worth including in your research and the brands they carry I would look at on a “mattress by mattress” basis (assuming that the retailer can provide you with the details of the layers in their mattresses) include … Albuquerque. Sherwood. Albuquerque, NM. Englander. All American Mattress. Albuquerque. Southerland Santa Fe. Carry Savvy Rest mattresses which are component latex mattresses with individual 3" Dunlop or Talalay latex layers that can be customized. They are very high quality but are also in a more premium price range than other very similar mattresses so again I would make some careful value comparisons here. OrganicPedic mattresses. They are very high quality but are also in a more premium price range than other very similar mattresses so I would make some careful value comparisons here. I would avoid the other Serta mattresses they offer.

There is one other factory direct manufacturer I know of in New Mexico … Roswell, NM. They make a full range of mattresses including latex, memory foam, and innersprings. They also carry some alternative brands as well in addition to their own mattresses.