Need Guidance - Morning Upper Back and Traps Pain/Stiffness

Hello! I’ve been a lurker for a while, but now am in need of guidance after purchasing a memory foam mattress 2 years ago. I’ll start with some background information. In 2020, I had a lower back injury (L5-S1 disc is bulging) and decided it was time for a new mattress as my old Serta was over 10 years old. I came to this website, did some research, and went down to a local store called Urban Mattress. I spent 3 hours there and ended up buying their memory foam mattress since it felt the most comfortable to me. The latex models I tried seemed a bit too firm (at least at the time) and I wasn’t a fan of the tufting/quilting on the top layer. The memory foam model I purchased had the following specifications:

Comfort Layer 1 inch of 3lb cool gel memory foam and 3 inches of 5lb memory foam
Support Layer 6 inches of 2.5lb 28 ILD (Firm: 35 ILD) HR Cold Foam

I have a small frame, 5’7" 135lbs and primarily a back sleeper, so I figured the 5lb density was suitable for my size.

Over the past few months or longer, I keep waking up with stiffness or pain in my upper back, pain, and sometimes in the neck area. I tried switching pillows from memory foam (terrible), to an adjustable tencel fill (gave me bad morning headaches), and now a low loft down pillow (hasn’t helped).

At this point I’m not sure if I haven’t found the right pillow or if it’s an spinal alignment issue with the mattress. I do get deep sleep and don’t feel like I’m tossing and turning all night, but I’m at my wit’s end with waking up in pain or stiffness.

Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated. My investment into the mattress I have now was around 2000 dollars and it looks like inflation in foam has raised the cost by 20% now.

Thank you for reading. :slight_smile:

Hi Thedakk.

Welcome to our Mattress Forum. :slight_smile:

There is some information about the many different symptoms that people may experience on a mattress and some of the most common causes behind them in post #2 here that may be helpful.

You’d also want to revaluate the thickness of your pillow to make sure that it is allowing for a more “neutral” neck alignment. Have all the fills been relatively similar in terms of loft?


I’d suggest lying in your normal sleeping position and have someone take a photo of you at bed level then overlay a picture of you standing straight (same side profile). You can do it digitally by making one photo semi transparent using word/powerpoint/etc or just old school by printing them out at similar size and holding them up to the light. This should give you a good idea of where your issue is and where to focus your efforts (ie whether it’s the mattress or pillow or both) to fix your issue.