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Your Mattress Might Be Causing Hip Pain — But This Product Can Help

mbg Contributing Writer

By Brittany Loggins

mbg Contributing Writer

Brittany Loggins is a freelance writer covering health, wellness, and all things lifestyle.

Medical review by

Scott Nass, M.D., MPA, FAAFP, AAHIVS

Board-certified Family Physician

Scott Nass, M.D., MPA, FAAFP, AAHIVS is a family physician and HIV specialist in California. He takes a holistic approach to healthcare, incorporating principles of functional medicine and using food as medicine when working with patients.

Image by jamie grill atlas / Stocksy

July 25, 2022

A night of quality sleep can be hard to come by, but it’s especially difficult for those experiencing hip pain. While the exact cause of this pain can be caused by a number of issues–such as overuse, arthritis, or tendinitis–your mattress is another possible culprit.

Mattresses offering inadequate spinal support or pressure relief can contribute to your aches and pains. When combined with sleeping positions that put more pressure on your hips, such as sleeping on your side, the combo can create a less than stellar sleep setup.

Unfortunately, investing in an entirely new mattress isn’t always an option, but the best mattress toppers for hip pain offer a more affordable alternative. We spoke with Dr. Fallon Maylack, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, to uncover the typical causes of hip pain at night and how a mattress topper can provide relief.

What causes hip pain when you sleep?

Hip pain comes in many forms and there’s no single cause that can be attributed for everyone’s pain. The hips are an incredibly complex muscle group that undergoes a lot of demand throughout the day–and their connection to other powerful muscles means they can easily be pulled out of alignment.

You could also be dealing with osteoarthritis, sciatic-piriformis syndrome, or even tendonitis. But one of the most common issues for many side sleepers is hip bursitis or an inflammation of the bursae, according to Dr. Maylack.

The hips have two main bursae, which are small sacs that contain fluid between the bones and soft tissues. “Typically for hip bursitis, the problem is too firm a mattress,” says Dr. Maylack.

Super firm mattresses often lack the pressure-relief found in softer options. As a result, the pressure on your hips from lying on your side isn’t mitigated by the mattress.

A softer mattress will cradle the hips and provide pressure relief, which is why Dr. Maylack suggests it to reduce hip pain. Otherwise, he recommends opting for a memory foam or plush mattress topper to get relief.

Of course, the opposite is also true. If there’s no support in your mattress–because it’s too soft or too old–then your hips may sag too deeply into the mattress, creating a similar issue. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to a mattress to add firmness than it for one to provide extra cushioning.

How can a mattress topper prevent or reduce hip pain?

A topper can help counteract firmness issues with your current mattress. While it won’t completely transform a super firm or saggy mattress, the addition can help with any pitfalls in your current sleep setup. For example, a mattress that’s just a touch too soft can get much-needed support from a firmer mattress topper, while one that’s far too firm can get an extra boost of cushioning.

Once you understand how your current mattress is falling short, it’s easy to find a topper to counteract these concerns. So as long as your current mattress is the culprit behind your pain, adding a mattress topper should help reduce it.

What to look for in a mattress topper for hip pain:

If you have a super firm mattress, you want to make sure that your mattress topper is at least three inches thick, which will keep your hip from hitting up against your mattress. You also want to make sure it’s plush enough to contour around your hips.

Typically, a topper somewhere in the middle ground between plush and firm will offer enough support and pressure-relief to keep your hip bone from hitting your mattress. Remember: Too much cushioning could also offer too little support.

Additionally, there are a few key specifics that you should keep in mind when purchasing a mattress topper:

Sleeping position: While side sleepers experience the most hip pain per Dr. Maklay, back sleepers may also find their spins out of alignment without enough support (which can also cause hip pain).Temperature control: If you run hot, look for gel or copper-based cooling materials to keep your bed at the ideal temperature.Motion isolation: This technology minimizes the amount of tossing and turning done throughout the night (and keeps you and your partner from annoying each other).Price: Price ranges can vary, but it’s important to always pick items within your budget. We prioritized options that were under or around $500, which is still cheaper than investing in a new mattress for hip pain.

How we picked:

Firmness:

People with hip pain should opt for softer, more plush toppers on firm beds. On soft beds, they should prioritize firmer add-ons.

Material:

While latex is more environmentally sustainable and less likely to contain toxic materials, memory foam can also provide lots of support.

Thickness

We aimed for mattress toppers that provide at least three inches of cushioning.

Sustainability

We prioritized brands that don’t use wasteful packaging or materials.

mbg’s picks for the best mattress toppers for hip pain of 2022:

Best overall: Saatva Latex Mattress Topper

Saatva Latex Mattress Topper

VIEW ON Saatva | From $245

Pros:

Incredibly cooling thanks to perforationsWorks with all mattress brands

Materials: Natural latex, Organic cotton

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split King

Trial: 180 nights

Warranty: 1-year

This topper is made of 1.5-inches of natural latex, which is the material most highly recommended by orthopedists and chiropractors (and sustainable!). Latex provides buoyant-feeling support that provides pressure point relief, making it a particularly great option for those experiencing hip pain. The latex will maintain its shape and limit motion-transfer, all while providing enough support to maintain good spinal alignment. This particular topper also features perforations to help with heat transfer so you don’t get too hot.

Although the mattress topper ships for free in a box, yet it doesn’t need any time to fully expand. This makes the 3-inch pick great for travel, as it can easily be rolled up and packed for trips. Customers love the elastic anchor bands, but one reviewer noted that she wishes the cotton cover was washable.

Best for side sleepers: Puffy Mattress Topper

Puffy Mattress Topper

VIEW ON Puffy | From $152

Pros:

HypoallergenicWashable cover

Cons:

Made of memory foamCould be too soft for back sleepers

Materials: Memory foam

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Trial: 101 nights

Warranty: Lifetime

While Puffy offers firm and soft options, side sleepers will want to opt for the softer of the two. The plush memory foam will relieve pressure from the hip by contouring to the body–and offer an alternative firmness if you’re not a fan of the softer side.

Hot sleepers will also be impressed; the bamboo-polyester cover allows for ample airflow and doesn’t retain heat. Plus, the bottom of the topper is covered with grippy nubs that help holds it onto the surface of your mattress with the help of slip-over design.

It comes in a box that’s just large enough to fit the folded topper with free shipping through FedEx. One reviewer purchased this topper to relieve her hip and shoulder pain and reports that it transformed her firm mattress and relieves pressure.

Best for hip and back pain: Tempur-Pedic Tempur Topper Supreme

Tempur-Pedic Tempur Topper Supreme

VIEW ON Tempur Pedic | From $319

Pros:

More durable than traditional memory foamAllergen-resistant cover

Cons:

Some reviewers had issues with slippage

Materials: Tempur Material

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Trial: None

Warranty: 10-year

This mattress topper may immediately come off as memory foam, but think again. This is a patented material from the Tempur-Pedic brand that lasts longer than memory foam and holds its shape better.

Unlike traditional memory foam, it also runs cool with the added perks of being both dust and allergen-resistant. Along with a cool-to-the-touch cover, it offers a thick 3-inch padding, which transforms your mattress to relieve pressure on your back and hips.

Shipping is completely free and the box is fairly no-nonsense in terms of wasted materials. One reviewer said that they “no longer wake up with lower back pain or muscle soreness as if I’ve been in a fight.” Really, what more could you ask for?

Best for lower back and hip pain: PlushBeds Talalay Latex Topper

PlushBeds Talalay Latex Topper

VIEW ON Plush Beds | From

Pros:

Available in two width optionsDifferent firmness levelsSustainably harvested latex

Cons:

No trial period

Materials: Natural latex

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Trial: None

Warranty: 5-year

In addition to being 100% natural, this latex is certified by OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and GreenGuard Gold, both of which ensure quality and sustainability, as well as a lack of toxic additives. While this topper is available in two and three inch thicknesses, the 3-inch option is better for those with lower back and hip pain, as it will provide more support. You can also choose from four different firmness levels, however the medium-firm option is optimal for someone with back pain.

Shipping is free and it comes rolled-up in a box with minimal packaging. One customer left a review about how much they loved the medium-firm option, saying that it “is hard enough for my back, yet resilient and forgiving enough for my hips and shoulders.”

Best memory foam: Layla Memory Foam Topper

Layla Memory Foam Topper

VIEW ON Layla Sleep | From $349

Pros:

Cooling copper gel-infused memory foamComfortable for back or side sleepers

Cons:

No trial period

Materials: Copper gel-infused memory foam

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Trial: None

Warranty: 5-year

This mattress topper is equal parts plush and supportive, which is the ideal for those experiencing hip pain. It contours around your hips while maintaining spinal alignment for the optimal level of support. More importantly, it addresses one of the most common complaints of memory foam: heat.

By infusing copper gel into the dense material, it helps keep you cool while also adding durability to the the mattress, so it maintain shape for years to come.

Shipping is completely free and the topper arrives in a box that’s just big enough to accommodate the topper itself. While they don’t allow returns, they will give you a full refund if you aren’t satisfied (and they’ll arrange for you to donate your topper to a local charity). One customer said that she bought a new mattress that was simply not soft enough to allow her to sleep comfortably. This topper transformed her sleep quality starting from night one, and she says that “every night since has only been getting better.”

Best latex: Avocado Organic Latex Mattress Topper

Avocado Organic Latex Mattress Topper

VIEW ON Avocado Mattress | From $549

Pros:

GOLS organic certifiedFree shipping

Cons:

Slightly smaller than mattress of corresponding size

Materials: Natural latex

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Trial: 365 nights

Warranty: 10-year

Go ahead and pick up the plush version of this latex mattress and get ready to snooze like a baby. In addition to being made of GOLS-certified organic latex rubber, it includes an organic wool cover for an added layer of durability (and cooling) Reviewers say that it maintains shape while also providing lots of cushioning, which is perfect for those who experience hip pain.

The brand is incredibly eco-conscious when it comes to packaging, which is recyclable and minimal. One reviewer even noted that she is pregnant and the topper still managed to alleviate her hip pain and her husband’s neck pain. “I am eight months pregnant and am sleeping so well,” the excited reviewer wrote.

FAQ

Can a bad mattress cause hip pain?

There can definitely be mattresses that aren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep for those with hip pain. In general, make sure to prioritize softer mattresses that still provide some support.

Does a mattress topper counteract a bad mattress?

A mattress topper can definitely help provide support and cushioning, which is super important when thinking about hip pain.

Is firm or soft mattress better for hip pain?

While Dr. Maylack notes that back sleepers are often told to look for firm mattresses, he emphasizes the importance of looking for a mattress that provides ample cushioning if you’re a side sleeper experiencing hip pain.

The takeaway.

A mattress toppers provides a major upgrade to your sleep setup without having to invest in an entirely new mattress–and these picks come with the added bonus of helping with hip pain. To continue upgrading your bedding, don’t forget to use the best cooling sheets.

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