New mattress didn't help still back pain

So I had a pillow top mattress that was about 2 years old. Never had any issues with it till we moved to a new house. I thought maybe it got damaged in the move because as soon as we got settled in our new house I started waking up with back pain. We ended up getting rid of it and for a temporary fix we got an air mattress. Which while not really a long term solution,I had no more back pain. Yesterday,I purchased a new pillowtop mattress and after one night on it my back is killing me again. I would have sworn sleeping on a air mattress would have been tons worse for my back than an actual mattress. This bed is in the same location as our old one but I’m considering moving it to a different area of the room. Maybe the location is uneven or something. I have no idea just tired of back pain. My question is…does anyone know something that might help? Thank you

Hi radorix,

There is more about the most common symptoms that people experience on a mattress and some of the most likely reasons for them in post #2 here but the most common reason for lower back pain is a mattress that is too soft and allows your hips/pelvis to sink down too far and puts your lumbar spine out of alignment over the course of the night. This is a common issue with softer pillowtops.

Another common issue with pillowtops is that they often use lower quality materials in the pillow top which can soften or sag prematurely so if you don’t have the back pain when the mattress is new it can appear relatively quickly once the materials start to soften. Most of the major brand mattresses use lower quality materials in the comfort layers (including the pillowtop) so I would always make sure that you know the type and quality of the materials in a pillowtop before buying a mattress to make sure that it doesn’t have lower quality materials which would be a “weak link” in the mattress in terms of durability (see this article).

There are also some suggestions in post #4 here that may be helpful but hopefully you will be able to exchange the mattress for something that is a better “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) rather than needing to “fix” a mattress that may not be suitable for you.


This is a brand new mattress so there’s not any sags or anything. It’s also a bit firmer than my previous pillowtop. I put a foam topper on it earlier today to soften it up a little bit. I took a nap earlier today and instead of back pain I woke up with shoulder pain. Maybe I’m just getting old and a little senile :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi raqdorix,

Pillowtops in general come in a range of firmness levels but in general they tend to be in the softer range.

A nap will be different from sleeping on a mattress over the course of the night so back pain may not always show up with a nap. It’s also possible that the topper is firmer and wasn’t providing enough pressure relief and it’s also possible that your shoulder pain was from a pillow issue or from an alignment issue related to how you slept or even from a “non mattress” related issue. I would always pay more attention to patterns than to single instances.

Overall though … the odds are much higher that lower back pain is from a mattress that is too soft than a mattress that is too firm.


So over the course of the past couple of weeks I have tried a few things. I went from the pillowtop and traded it in for a spring mattress. The spring mattress was still killing me so I traded that in yesterday for a double sided mattress. I know a lot of trade ins here. The double sided mattress the pain isn’t as bad but still present. So going to try it for a couple of weeks and if that doesn’t work then I don’t know what else to do outside of break my back upon the rack and see if that convinces it quit acting like a little princess and toughen up.

Hi radorix,

There are a wide range of innerspring mattresses that may have softer or firmer support cores and softer or firmer comfort layers and some of them may be a good “match” for you in terms of PPP and some of them may be completely unsuitable for you to sleep on and lead to back pain.

The same would be true for two sided mattresses which are also available with softer or firmer support cores and softer or firmer comfort layers. While a two sided mattress is generally more durable than a one sided mattress that uses the same materials and components (see posts #2 and #3 here) … it certainly is no assurance that a mattress will be a suitable “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) or that it will help with back pain.

There is more about primary or “deep” support and secondary or “surface” support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the “roles” of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between “support” and “pressure relief” and “feel” and how the different layers in a mattress can contribute to good alignment.

I hope your current mattress works out well for you but if it doesn’t and you need to find something different again then the testing guidelines for alignment in the tutorial post may be helpful. In general terms I would make sure that the support layers of the mattress are a suitable firmness for your body type and sleeping positions and that the comfort layers are “just enough” in terms of softness and thickness to relieve any pressure issues you may have in your most pressure prone position and no more because with thicker/softer comfort layers (or softer support layers) you can increase the risk of sleeping out of alignment and the back pain that can go with it.

Assuming that your back pain is a mattress issue and not a back issue (if it’s a mattress issue your back pain will tend to go away soon after you get up and more around and stretch a bit) … dealing with a knowledgeable and experienced manufacturer that has the experience to be able to help you identify any patterns in your choices that may be contributing to back pain can be one of the most important factors in making a successful mattress choice.