Mattresses with orthopaedic support have been around for quite some time. This sleep mattress has been extensively promoted as an ergonomic support for our body during our sleep period. While it’s true that orthopaedic mattresses offer a number of advantages, they also have some drawbacks. In this post, we’ll examine the orthopaedic mattress from all angles and discuss the Disadvantages of Orthopedic mattresses. Read further to know more
So What is an Orthopaedic Mattress?
An orthopaedic mattress is a mattress which is designed solely for the purpose of supporting the body’s back, joints and overall health. As it relates to the spine and bones, orthopaedics has been influential in this study. Orthopaedic mattresses are designed to alleviate discomfort caused by illnesses such as arthritis, joint pain, general back pain and osteoporosis. To accomplish this, it is helpful to have a mattress that is quite firm. With this mattress, every part of your body is supported, reducing the possibility of pain, since it conforms to the shape of your body.
List of Disadvantages of Orthopedic Mattress
Orthopaedic mattresses are typically more expensive than regular mattresses due to the specialized materials like Memory Foam, SmartGrid, Lates and coil technologies used in their construction. While a normal innerspring or memory foam mattress can be bought in India for under ₹7,000, orthopaedic mattresses usually start from ₹10,000 and can go up to ₹50,000.
The high cost is attributed to factors like:
Use of premium quality materials like latex, memory foam, gel-infused foams etc. that are designed to relieve pressure points and contour the body. These materials are more expensive than standard spring or foam compositions.
Incorporation of advanced technologies like individually wrapped coils, zoned support systems, adjustable bases etc. to provide tailored spinal alignment and pressure relief. Such technologies require more R&D and production costs.
Customization and tailoring options allow adjusting the firmness levels and ergonomic support on each side of the mattress. This level of customizability adds to manufacturing complexity.
Not Supportive for all Body Types
Orthopaedic mattresses are engineered to provide customized support based on average body dimensions, weights and pressure points. However, every individual has a unique build and sleep posture. What may feel perfectly supportive to one person could put pressure on problem areas for another.
For example, larger-sized or heavier individuals may still feel pressure on their shoulders or lower back from an orthopaedic mattress rated for average weight. Likewise, petite framed or lightweight sleepers may feel the mattress is too firm in some regions.
The level and zones of ergonomic support may not match everyone’s exact needs. This means orthopaedic mattresses may not deliver pain relief benefits for all body types as effectively as they claim. Customization further drives up costs.
Difficulty Changing Firmness Levels
Once an orthopaedic mattress is purchased in a particular firmness rating, it is not always easy or cost-effective to adjust it later if the sleeper’s support needs change over time.
For example, a person’s back pain issues and pressure points may evolve as they age. Or they might change their regular sleeping position from back to side or vice versa. In such cases, the static ergonomic support of the orthopaedic mattress may no longer match requirements.
While some adjustable bases allow altering firmness on each side individually, the mattress core itself cannot be modified much. Replacing the entire orthopaedic mattress for a different firmness level involves a sizable new investment. This inflexibility can reduce the longevity of pain relief benefits.
Potential Off-gassing odours
Many premium memory foams, latexes and gel-infused foams used in orthopaedic mattresses are known to emit mild chemical odours upon initial unpacking and use. This occurs as they release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) trapped during manufacturing.
While the smells tend to dissipate within a few days as the mattress airs out, the strong chemical smells in the interim can cause irritation for those with sensitive olfactory senses or respiratory issues like asthma. The off-gassing is also concerning from an indoor air quality perspective.
Additionally, some orthopaedic mattress surfaces contain fire retardant chemicals that may continue emitting low levels of odours for weeks. This can negatively impact the sleep experience during the initial break-in period. Ventilation of the new mattress is important.
Potential Loss of Contour Over Time
The high-density memory foam used in orthopaedic mattresses is designed to perfectly contour and adapt to the body initially. However, the foams may lose some of their contouring ability and responsiveness over 5-7 years of continual use and compression by body weight.
As a result, the specialized ergonomic support profiles could flatten out marginally. The sleeper may feel less perfect spinal alignment and pressure point relief compared to when the mattress was new.
While orthopaedic mattresses still provide better support than innerspring options even after flattening, it does reduce their longevity for pain-free sleep as claimed by manufacturers. Replacing them every 7 years or so may be necessary to retain optimal contouring benefits.
While orthopaedic mattresses have undeniable advantages for back pain sufferers looking for specialized sleep surface support, they are not without some drawbacks. Their high cost, potential lack of universal compatibility with all body types, inflexibility to change firmness levels later and the issues of off-gassing smells or loss of contouring ability over time are definite concerns to consider.
Buyers should weigh these potential disadvantages carefully against their individual needs and budgets before investing in an orthopaedic version. Regular mattresses with advanced comfort layers priced reasonably low may still serve the purpose for many. But for those with severe, persistent back pain, the benefits of orthopaedic design make the higher costs worthwhile.