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Choosing the right mattress for lower back pain

Proper mattress selection for lower back pain

Which mattress is best for your back?

Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause or worsen lower back pain. Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not help keep the spine in alignment, all of which contribute to low back pain.
Sleep comfort is also sacrificed if a mattress does not match one’s individual preferences. A mattress that provides both comfort and back support helps reduce low back pain, allowing the structures in the spine to really rest and rejuvenate during the night.
Choosing the right mattress can be difficult. The following practical guidelines are designed to help patients with low back pain choose the best mattress for both back support and sleep comfort:

  1.  Personal preference should ultimately determine what mattress is best. There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain. Any mattress that helps someone sleep without pain and stiffness is the best mattress for that individual. Patients with low back pain should choose the mattress that meets their standards for comfort and support and allows them to get a good nightís sleep.
  2. Understand and inquire about the physical components of the mattress. The coils or inner springs of a mattress provide the support. Different mattresses vary in their number and arrangement of coils. Padding on top of the mattress comes in many different thicknesses. Mattress depths typically range anywhere from 7 to 18 inches deep. Choosing the number of coils, type of padding and mattress depth should be determined by individual preferences.
  3. Find a mattress with back support. A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine. The right amount of back support also helps the patient avoid muscle soreness in the morning. While there is not much clinical data about mattresses, one study found that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses.
  4. Achieve a balance between back support and comfort. Overall comfort while sleeping on the mattress is equally important as sufficient back support. Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm can cause aches and pains on pressure points. A medium-firm mattress may be more comfortable because it allows the shoulder and hips to sink in slightly. Patients who want a firmer mattress for back support can get one with thicker padding for greater comfort.
  5.  Know when it’s time to get a new mattress. If an old mattress sags visibly in the middle or is no longer comfortable, it is probably time to purchase a new one. Putting boards under a sagging mattress to keep it from sagging in the middle is only a short-term fix for the sagging; a new mattress is still needed.

Some Considerations

  • Shop for the best value and quality of the mattress, not price. Mattresses with more coils and thicker padding tend to be higher quality and also more expensive; however, a higher price does not guarantee that the mattress is more comfortable or more supportive. Mattress stores often have sales and promotions, so it is a good idea to comparison-shop for the best price after finding the right mattress.
  • Be aware of mattress advertising gimmicks. Claims that a mattress is orthopedic or medically-approved should be viewed skeptically. There has not been extensive medical research or controlled clinical trials on the topic of mattresses and low back pain. The individual must determine whether or not extra features on a mattress make it more comfortable or supportive.
  • Give the mattress a test-run before buying. To sample mattresses, people can try sleeping on different makes and models in hotels or at other peopleís homes before going to a mattress store. When shopping at the store, shoppers should lie on the mattress for several minutes to decide if it is a good fit. If two people will be sleeping on the mattress, both should test it at the same time to make sure they have enough space and are both comfortable on the same style of mattress.
  • Purchase mattresses from stores and companies that are trustworthy. Consider the customer service offered by the mattress store, such as delivery options, warranty, and removal of old mattresses and the store’s return policy. Look for mattress stores where customers can return a mattress if they are not satisfied with the quality or comfort after sleeping on it for a significant amount of time (i.e. a couple of weeks to a month).
  • To help preserve the quality of a new mattress, it should be repositioned every six months to ensure that the mattress is evenly worn. This includes rotating 180 degrees and flipping the mattress lengthwise on a regular basis. The Better Sleep Council advises against putting a mattress on a box spring/foundation that is not made to go with the mattress, as this may decrease the life of the new mattress.

January 2015 Newsletter

Catalyst Chiropractic Newsletter
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January 2015
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Dear Kip,

Happy New Year!
The holiday season was super busy for us as it is for most people. Now that the dust has settled we want to share our first newsletter of 2015 with you. We just have a few clinic updates to tell you about and a helpful tip to keep your spine healthy during the cold and flu season.
We are excited for this new year and hope it brings you good health and great experiences!
In sickness and in health,
Team Catalyst

Clinic Update
Welcome Catalyst to the 21st century! We now offer you the option of receiving your appointment reminders via text message, email, or a phone call.
We are trying to update everybody’s preferences so contact us to let us know how you would like to be notified of upcoming appointments.

New wellness products on the shelves
We recently added two new products to our offerings for your pain relief and postural support.

Balance discs: As seen in Dr. T’s Youtube video, these discs are an excellent substitute for sitting on a yoga ball in your office. They take up almost no space and can be placed on your existing office chair for the same wobbly effect to help you sit straighter while working.

Traumeel: Patients love our Cryoderm pain relief gel, but for those who prefer an odorless product, Traumeel is a very good homeopathic remedy for muscle and joint pain.

A Safer Way to Sneeze
Chiropractor Beaverton | Spine Hacks: The Safe Sneeze
Chiropractor Beaverton | Spine Hacks: The Safe Sneeze
The flu is running rampant now and with it comes a lot of coughing, sneezing, and…pain. Coughing and sneezing produce violent contractions of your abdominal muscles and rapid forward bending motions in your spine. That can be a painful combination if you don’t brace yourself correctly. In the newest installment of our “Spine Hacks” videos, Dr. Thompson shows how to brace for an oncoming ATCHOO!

Ask Dr. T: “I’ve heard that you do soft tissue scraping. What is that?”

If you have been in to Catalyst for a chiropractic appointment, you know that I not only do chiropractic adjustments but also pay attention to any injured/tight soft tissues in the area. For more chronic or stubborn soft tissue problems such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, IT band tightness, or shin splints, I am also trained in a technique called Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM). The “scraping” sensation comes from a metal tool that is used to perform this technique. In essence it is a deep tissue massage performed with the aid of a metal instrument to more effectively address scar tissue buildup and adhesions between layers of connective tissue. It is an aggressive therapy but effectively stimulates the body’s healing response and can often provide dramatic results with relatively few treatments.
If you have a nagging soft tissue problem, ask Dr. Thompson about IASTM at your next visit, or refer to this article published by the American Chiropractic Association.

October 2014 Newsletter

Catalyst Chiropractic Newsletter
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October 2014
Dear Kip,
October is a month of many health observances. Among those is Chiropractic Health Month. We recognize that it may not be the most urgent of causes for which to raise awareness, but we believe it is a worthy cause.
The theme for this year’s chiropractic health month is “Conservative Care First,” or put another way, chiropractic first, then medicine, then surgery. It sounds bold, but for back and neck pain and other orthopedic conditions, it makes a world of sense in economical, safety, and public health terms. Read along with us as we illustrate some examples of why chiropractic is a great first choice for your healthcare needs.
In sickness and in health,
Team Catalyst

Chiropractic care reduces surgery rates
A recent study of injured workers in Washington state led to the following findings of dramatically fewer surgeries performed when the first point of contact after the injury was with a chiropractor:

Chiropractic care vs surgery for sciatica
If you have suffered from sciatica, you know it can be debilitating. Sometimes it seems as though the only option is to operate on the herniated disc that is pinching the sciatic nerve. In August we highlighted some research on our blog that shows that chiropractic care can be just as effective as surgery to relieve sciatic pain.

A safe and effective alternative to drugs
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The first approach for many people when back pain hits is to take a pain pill. Even over the counter drugs have potentially serious side effects such as liver toxicity, ulcers, and cardiovascular complications. Chiropractic care has been shown to be at least as effective as pain medications in multiple studies…and it is natural. If you know someone who is masking their pain with medications, tell them there is a better option that can get to the cause of their pain and not just mask it.

Ask Dr. T: “My doctor told me not to go to a chiropractor. What should I do?”

In this day and age as both traditional medicine and chiropractic care become more progressive, this luckily does not happen often. When it does, I believe it is typically because of two general misconceptions:
1.) Medical doctors are uneducated about the training that chiropractic physicians receive. There certainly are individuals who should not undergo chiropractic care, and chiropractic physicians are well qualified to determine who those individuals are and to make the proper referral to another healthcare provider when needed.
2.) They think we forcibly “crack” every patient. I once had a 70 year old patient come in with multiple herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and pain and tingling in both arms and legs. Against the warnings of her neurologist, this patient consulted with me for treatment. Certainly she had conditions that could have been made worse with forceful adjustments. Luckily, that isn’t all we do as chiropractors. By use of gentle, non-forceful techniques we were able gain more mobility in the spine and relieve pressure on the nerves, which relieved her arm and leg pain almost completely!
Remember, you are going to be with your body for the rest of your life. Before taking the risks of medication or surgery, try conservative chiropractic care first.

September 2014 Newsletter


Catalyst Chiropractic Newsletter
In This Issue
Back-safe backpacks
Back to school spine safety
Ask the Dr: Inversion tables?
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September 2014
After a long summer break, the Catalyst Chiropractic Newsletter is back in action. We hope the summer treated you all well. We met a lot of new patients this summer – many being referred by our loyal patients. We thank you for your referrals and do our best to treat your family and friends right.
As school is back in session, we are bringing you some tips to keep those young spines healthy this school year. Read on to learn more about backpack safety and spine-friendly habits for your young ones.
Thank you and enjoy!
-Team Catalyst

Big backpacks can mean big problems

Don’t let your kids out the door in the morning if they look like this ——->
To set those small spines up for success, keep the following backpack guidelines in mind:
  1. The pack should weigh less than 10% of the child
  2. Use both straps, and make sure their well-padded
  3. Keep the straps tightened, don’t let the pack hang low
For a full list of backpack tips from the American Chiropractic Association, CLICK HERE

Spare those growing spines
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Has your child ever complained of back pain?
In a recent edition of “The Back Letter” an eye-opening fact was brought to our attention. It states “that children and adolescents report low back symptoms almost as frequently as adults (LWW Vol. 29, No.9, Sept 2014).” As your kids end their summer activities and return to their school year routines, keep the following in mind to spare their young spines and keep them out of pain.
  1. Movement is life. It also helps our joints stay healthy. Kids spent a lot of their class time seated, so when they get home give them some time to play and move before sitting down for homework or crashing on the couch to watch tv.
  2. Homework and reading should be done at a table or desk, not on the couch, bed or floor. A supportive chair at a table is more conducive to maintaining proper posture for homework. Just make sure theydon’t sit for more than an hour at a time.
  3. Substitute the chocolate milk for a water bottle. Our joints need to be hydrated to thrive. Make sure your child is getting plenty of H2O.
  4. Get serious about bed time. The school day can start pretty early for some of our kids, so make sure they are getting a good night’s sleep to let their bodies and minds rest and recover.
  5. Avoid “Text Neck” like the plague. See this video to learn how.

Ask Dr. T: What about inversion tables?

I field this question on an almost daily basis. The basic premise of inversion (hanging upside down) is that while you are inverted, the space between your vertebrae increases. This can possibly decompress bulging discs, relieve pressure on irritated or pinched nerves, and generally reverse the stress that gravity constantly places on your spine when you are upright.
It all sounds great, but no matter what the infomercials tell you, it does not work for everybody and it does have risks. If you are interested in inversion therapy or purchasing an inversion table yourself, please consult with me first. I will help you identify if your condition might respond well to inversion and if you have any health conditions that may preclude you from using this therapy.
Be safe our there,