Sciatica, back pain, and mattresses

I have been dealing with sciatica symptoms for several years now. A few years ago, I decided to invest in a  Sleep number bed, thinking that I could adjust the mattress as needed to allow my back to heal. For the first year or so, I tried ‘dialing’ the bed (sleep number) up and down, trying to find that ‘Goldilocks zone’ that would be perfect for me. I never found it, and my back pain just kept increasing.

Last Spring, I saw a orthopedic surgeon to get a medical option. I went o Crystal Clinic, which is generally very highly recommended. After doing some physical therapy for a few weeks, I had an MRI. The surgeon showed me the MRI on a following meeting and she said it confirmed that I had degenerative disk disease. She said the only realy ‘fix’ would be a major surgery where they would remove and then fuse the vertebrae that was slipping/collapsing. This surgery would put me out of commission for 12 weeks. Doing my own research, the consensus was that this procedure was about 70% effective at reducing pain long term. I decided I would not elect this surgery until I could no longer walk. The surgeon did prescribe some anti inflammatory medications, which I took from time to time.

About two weeks ago (12/10/18), I decided that I would try sleeping on the murphy bed in the guest room. That bed had a memory foam mattress we recently purchased, that was lightly used. The very first night I found that when I woke up, I was not in pain. What a big difference! So I started to sleep a bit longer 7 to 9 hours vs 6 to 7. Then I started to notice that I had less pain during the day, particularly in the morning. And then I noticed that my flexibility was improving, it was less painful to put on socks in the morning, for example.

What’s of interest is that I had read and heard from many sources that the mattress does not make much difference with sciatica symptoms, it was all about the drugs, therapy, etc. Those accounts are  wrong!. Drugs and therapy may help, but the mattress you sleep on is critical. Also my assumptions about the Sleep number bed were wrong. I had thought that it was somehow the ‘perfect’ mattress. Just good marketing, I guess.

So my advice is, don’t just go out and buy a Sleep number bed (or any other ‘too good to be true’ mattress. Try a memory foam mattress first. They are inexpensive, and might just do the trick for you.

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