Are Waterbeds Good For Back Pain?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 16, 2017

Waterbed Back Pain

Waterbeds were more popular in the 1980s and 1990s, but they are starting to make a comeback in some circles. Waterbeds are unique in that they truly contour to the pressure points on your body and they can offer a heating element that standard beds can’t, but how good are they at providing back pain relief? We take a closer look at waterbeds and back pain in this blog.

The Benefits of Waterbeds For Back Pain

As we noted above, waterbeds truly contour to the user’s body, meaning pressure is evenly displaced on the mattress. This means there is less pressure on one area of your back or in your joints, which is beneficial for spine health. Also, since waterbeds can be heated, a slightly heated bed can help facilitate healthy blood flow in spine, which can help oxygenated blood reach certain areas in the spine, keeping them healthy.

Another unique feature of a waterbed is a wave option. Some water beds can create a small wave effect that can provide spinal benefits similar to a massage. However, if you have a spinal condition, it is not recommended that you sleep with the pulse or wave function on because although it can provide some temporary relief, hours of stimulation can actually stress and strain certain areas of your back, leaving them worse for the wear.

If you are considering a water bed, talk to your spine specialist before making a change, try out different beds (just like a standard bed, different waterbeds have different firmness ratings), and look into the extra features like heating and wave control.

Drawbacks of Waterbeds for Spine Pain

Just because we started with the benefits of waterbeds does not mean you’ll find us recommending that everyone trade in their traditional mattress for a water option. There are plenty of drawbacks with the beds as well. For starters, research shows that they don’t do a lot to control back pain. One study found that while 15 percent of spine pain sufferers found pain relief by switching to a waterbed, 9 percent experienced an increase in pain. While a water bed can help displace pressure throughout the bed, waterbeds offer very little in terms of support. Since the beds don’t offer any active resistance, if a person sleeps in a position where a lot of pressure is placed on their lumbar spine, they can sink too low in the bed and the spine can get out of alignment. Many spine pain patients find relief in a firmer option compared to a soft, sinking option, and a waterbed is about the least firm option on the market.

Aside from lack of support and the potential for alignment problems, there are a number of other potential problems with waterbeds for spine pain sufferers. They can be extremely heavy, so good luck moving them on your own especially if you have back pain, and they have been rated as some of the worst sleeping options for motion control. This means you are more likely to wake up if your partner moves in the night, and anyone with back pain will tell you how difficult it can be to fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Try Before You Buy

At the end of the day, we always recommend that a spine pain sufferer try out a bunch of different bed options before making a decision. As long as you are comfortable, your spine will likely be comfortable. Don’t buy a mattress sight unseen or without trying it out, and take advantage of the trial period to see how your back responds to the bed. If pain isn’t getting better, find a different option. If you’re considering a waterbed, look into all the features, talk to a spine specialist and try it out before you commit to it full time.

If you’re interested in talking to a spine specialist about your bed options, contact Dr. Sinicropi today.

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