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Better Backs by Better Beds?

Bergholdt, Kim, DC; Fabricius, Rasmus N., DC; Bendix, Tom, MD, DrMedSci

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181695d3b
Randomized Trial

Study Design. A “randomized”/stratified, single-blinded, parallel-group study.

Objective. To evaluate 3 structurally different mattresses relative influence on patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP).

Summary of Background Data. In several advertisements, it is proclaimed that certain mattresses have a positive effect on LBP, and especially a hard mattress is commonly believed to have a positive effect.

Methods. One hundred sixty CLBP patients were randomized to 1 of 3 groups, having a mattress/bed mounted in their sleeping room for 1 month. The beds were: (1) waterbed (Akva), (2) body-conforming foam mattress (Tempur), and (3) a hard mattress (Innovation Futon). At baseline and after 4 weeks, a blinded observer interviewed the patients on LBP levels (0–10), daily function (activities of daily living, 0–30), and on the amount of sleeping hours/night.

Results. Because of dropout of 19 patients before baseline, the analyses were performed on 141 patients. During the 1-month trial period another 27 patients stopped ahead of time, which were accounted for by “worse case” as well as “no-change” analyses. Both the waterbed and the foam mattress seemed superior to the hard mattress, especially when using the probably most relevant “worst case” data. There were no relevant difference between the effects of the water bed and the foam bed.

Conclusion. The Waterbed and foam mattress’ did influence back symptoms, function and sleep more positively as apposed to the hard mattress, but the differences were small.

A waterbed, a body-conforming foam mattress, and a hard mattress were tested for their influence on chronic low back pain patients regarding pain, daily activities, and sleep. Totally, 160 such individuals were randomized into 3 groups, each testing 1 of the mattresses for 1 month. The 2 soft mattresses were superior to the hard one.

From the Back Research Center, Part of Clinical Locomotion Science, Backcenter Funen, Ringe, Denmark.

Acknowledgment date: December 4, 2006. First revision date: January 30, 2007. Second revision date: September 16, 2007. Acceptance date: November 5, 2007.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

Corporate/Industry funds were received in support of this work. Although one or more of the author(s) has/have received or will receive benefits for personal or professional use from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript, benefits will be directed solely to a research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other nonprofit organization which the author(s) has/have been associated.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Tom Bendix, MD, Institute of Sports Medicine and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense, Denmark; Email:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.