Hard or Soft bed?
There is nothing like a comfy bed when you are not feeling 100% especially if your back is painful but as most back sufferers know the last place you want to be is lying down. Getting horizontal for even a short period of time is often excruciating for those with certain types of back conditions and waking up in the morning and trying to move is positively dreadful.
For some the natural conclusion to be drawn by the early morning nightmare is that the bed needs replacing but with what? By common assent one should lie on a hard bed if you suffer with your back. Preferably an old door, so the story goes. And there one should stay until mended. But is this true?
Hard beds often aggravate bad backs and although the reason is not absolutely clear it would seem that the arch formed by the lumbar spine when lying on your back seems to be accentuated by a hard surface. When that happens the back stiffens and becomes painful. There is probably a role for the fact that intervertebral discs ( IVD) swell over night acting like sponges as they absorb local tissue fluid complete with its nutrients ( the IVD has very little blood supply.) Whatever the reason the harder the bed the worse the stiffness and pain in the morning in most cases.
I often advise patients who have this problem to try lying on a folded quilt as a bottom sheet for a few nights, or if they have a softer bed in the house try that. They can then tell if the bed is making a big difference to their back condition. Many are under the illusion that their beds are too soft!
Having said all that, I think that beds are rarely the whole cause of pain in the back; they may contribute to the discomfort but spending £1000 on a new bed might get you a great lay but will rarely completely rid you of all your morning aches. If you feel like getting a new bed, experiment with the beds and quilts in your house to alter the hardness or otherwise of the surface you lie on so that you can be sure when you order that new bed that it’s going to be comfortable.
Keith Walker is a chiropractor and manual therapist . He provides evidenced based care for his patients in Plymouth, Devon.
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