Updated April 9, 2021Back pain is an all-too-common issue and it often interferes with sleep quality. It can be triggered by a number of issues, including bad posture, stress, weight gain, pregnancy, and an unhealthy sleeping position.While lifestyle changes help reduce back pain, you can promote further pain relief by switching up your sleeping surface. However, if a new mattress isn’t in your budget right now, a topper is a great temporary solution for comfort and support.In our article, we break down everything you need to know about mattress toppers, including firmness levels and materials, and share our favorite toppers for back pain relief.Best Mattress Topper for Back PainBest Overall Mattress Topper: Amerisleep LiftBest Cooling Mattress Topper: Zoma Balance PadBest Mattress Toppers for Back PainTopperHighlightPriceLift by Amerisleep™ Mattress TopperHIVE® technology for zoned support and pressure relief$299Zoma Balance PadResponsive topper made to optimize muscle recovery$275ViscoSoft Select High Density Mattress TopperGel-infused memory foam designed for hot sleepers$155Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam TopperPatented, two-sided topper with firm and soft options$250MOLECULE™ Triple Zone Mattress TopperMemory foam with gel microbeads for rapid responsiveness and breathability$249Sleep on Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress TopperUltra-customizable so you can build the topper right for you$99Advanced Sleep Solutions Gel Memory Foam Mattress TopperSoft topper great for overly-firm beds and side sleepers$951. Lift by Amerisleep™ Mattress TopperThe Amerisleep Lift Mattress Topper is made for the best sleep possible and is available in two variations: Support and Comfort. We recommend Support for back and stomach sleepers and Comfort for side and combination sleepers.The Support Lift is made of Amerisleep’s Affinity material. It provides extra support and firmness to an aging mattress and promotes spinal alignment. The Comfort Lift is made with Bio-Pur®, a non-toxic, plant-based foam with extra cushioning and a quick response time.Both variations have a breathable polyester-spandex cover and HIVE® technology—targeted support with three comfort zones to alleviate pressure build-up in your lumbar spine. They’re also fitted with MicroGrip®, a fabric to keep the topper in place without harming your mattress.Amerisleep backs the Lift Mattress Topper with a 5-year warranty and free shipping.2. Zoma Balance PadThe Zoma Balance Pad adds a soft and springy feel to a firm bed or extra support to a soft mattress.The Zoma Balance Pad contains 3 inches of Reactiv™ foam for a balance of support and comfort. It’s bouncy and responsive but still contours to your body’s curves, so pressure build-up and motion transfer are minimized. The bottom of the Balance Pad is made of a non-skid fabric so it doesn’t slip around at night. It’s wrapped in a ventilated and soft performance cover.Zoma provides free shipping and returns for all its products and a 5-year warranty on the Balance Pad.3. Viscosoft Select High-Density Mattress TopperThe Viscosoft Select High-Density Mattress Topper is made of gel-infused memory foam so you sleep cool. It’s 3 inches thick and medium-firm, so it feels plush while still being responsive and supportive, and is great for back and side sleepers.Viscosoft ensures its users are comfortable by adding a slip-resistant mesh bottom and adjustable elastic strappers to its toppers. This way, you don’t have to struggle with adjusting it every evening. It has a removable bamboo and rayon blend cover for extra breathability and softness.The Select High-Density Mattress Topper is hypoallergenic and comes with free shipping and a 3-year warranty.4. Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam TopperThe Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Topper is praised for its versatility: it’s reversible and has two-sided firmnesses. The 2-inch mattress topper is hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and dust mite resistant, so you can sleep clean and comfortably.One side of the topper is soft, cushiony, and reduces pressure points, providing extra give for side sleepers. The opposite is firm and designed to support your spine, reduce back pain, and prevent sinking into the bed. The firm half is slightly denser and prevents the soft half from bottoming out when it’s being used.The Memory Foam Toppers comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.5. MOLECULE™ Triple Zone Mattress TopperThe MOLECULE™ Triple Zone Mattress Topper is Air-Engineered™ to maximize your sleep quality and recovery. The cover contains thermal management technology to regulate your temperature, so you sleep soundly.The Triple Zone Mattress Topper is made of two, durable foam layers and is 3 inches thick. The top layer is 1 inch of RestoreFLO™ memory foam with gel microbeads to keep you cool, wick away moisture, and quickly respond to your movement.The bottom layer is 2 inches of RecoveryFLO™, a 3-zoned support system for adaptive relief. The foam has a diamond cut-out surface, with small diamonds near your head and legs for softness and large diamonds around your back and spine for support and pressure relief.MOLECULE™ mattress toppers come with a 30-day trial and 5-year warranty.6. Sleep On Latex Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress TopperSleep On Latex’s Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress Topper is available in a variety of firmnesses and thicknesses to upgrade any mattress: soft, medium, or firm, and 1, 2, or 3 inches thick.The 2-inch option is the most popular with its moderate firmness and extra support. The soft and firm variations significantly alter your mattress’s firmness, while the medium firmness is built to provide support without drastically changing your mattress’s feel.The Pure Green Natural Latex Mattress Topper is made using Earthfoam latex harvested from Sri Lanka. Earthfoam latex combines the best features of Dunlop and Talalay latex to provide consistent support without being overly bouncy.Sleep On Latex offers a 30-day trial and a 5-year warranty for their products.7. Advanced Sleep Solutions Gel Memory Foam TopperIf your too-firm mattress is aggravating your back, the Advanced Sleep Solutions Gel Memory Foam Topper might be right for you. It’s two inches thick and available in two different options: Medium Soft or Super Soft.It’s made from gel-infused, plant-based memory foam to dissipate heat and promote airflow during the evening, a key feature for hot sleepers. Also, the memory foam absorbs motion transfer to prevent mid-sleep disturbances.The Gel Memory Foam Topper is especially useful for side sleepers because it supports your hips and shoulders and relieves pressure.Advanced Sleep Solutions provides free shipping and a 3-year warranty for its toppers.Choosing a Mattress Topper for Back PainBack pain sufferers need a comfortable but supportive surface, but not all toppers have the same feel or characteristics. Now that we’ve looked at a few of our favorite mattress toppers, let’s discuss other features you should take into consideration to narrow down your search.FirmnessThe topper’s firmness affects how well it aligns your spine and reduces pressure buildup. Thin toppers tend to be firmer and provide little cushioning, while thick ones are plush and have more give. Choose a firmness based on your sleeping position.Back sleepers should use a medium to firm topper to keep their spine level, while side sleepers need a soft topper for hip and shoulder cushioning. Although we don’t recommend stomach sleeping if you have back pain, if you do, use a thin topper to prevent your hips from sinking. If you’re a combination sleeper, opt for a medium topper.Support TechnologiesA topper’s support technologies are crucial for spinal alignment and reducing back pain. Some contain zoned support, meaning the areas under the back and spine are firm, but areas under the head, shoulders, and legs are soft. This way, your body is adequately supported and your spine stays neutral.ConformityThe conformity (or close-contouring ability of a topper) is directly linked to how well it relieves pressure. It should hug your shoulders, hips, and back while keeping your spine aligned and protected. Thicker toppers are more conforming, while thinner variations are less cushiony and more firm.Side sleepers should prioritize close-conforming toppers so they don’t get achy shoulders and hips and minimize back pain.ThicknessA mattress topper’s thickness affects its feel, firmness, and how significantly it alters your sleep surface. The thicknesses can range from 1 to 8 inches, though thicker doesn’t mean it’s higher-quality or more comfortable. Rather, thicker toppers impact the feel of your surface more than thinner options.Most sleepers are usually content with toppers roughly 2 to 4 inches thick. However, thin toppers (2 inches) are often firmer and best suited for back and stomach sleeping, while thick ones (4 inches) are softer and best for side or combination sleeping.BudgetMattress toppers are an affordable way to upgrade your mattress. Their prices are based on the materials used, with latex and memory foam being pricey while polyester and cotton are cheap. However, while some can cost several hundred dollars, even the nicest options are usually cheaper than a high-quality mattress.A good price point is between 100 and 300 dollars. Super high price points (higher than 300 dollars) don’t guarantee your topper is more supportive or comfortable, while cheaper options (less than 100 dollars) break down quickly and likely don’t provide sufficient support.Types of Mattress ToppersMattress toppers are available in many different materials, though some work better than others for providing support and pressure relief. Let’s take a look at the materials to use and avoid for back pain relief.Memory FoamMemory foam mattress toppers have conforming and pressure-relieving capabilities, as it distributes your bodyweight well and soothes any pain. One of memory foam’s strong suits is how it isolates motion, preventing you and your bed partner from disrupting each other.A common complaint regarding memory foam is how it can be very hot, though most newer memory foams contain technologies to be breathable and promote sleeping cool. When shopping for memory foam, look for high-density foams (4 pounds per cubic foot or higher) for the best support and breathability.LatexLatex foam is a sustainably sourced, durable, and hypoallergenic material made from rubber tree sap. It is supportive for your back and minimizes motion transfer, a nice perk for those who share their bed.You can find latex produced in three variations: natural, synthetic, and blended. Natural latex mattress toppers are the safest and most environmental option since they don’t emit chemicals or gas, while synthetic or blended latex can. However, natural latex can be more expensive than its counterparts.Down and FeatherDown is the feathers from goose and duck bellies while feather toppers contain feathers from goose and duck coats (including the quills). Both feel super plush, luxurious, and warm, so down and feathers are a great choice for the winter. Despite this, down and feather toppers are not incredibly supportive, and many are expensive. Down and feather toppers are comfortable if you have no health concerns, though they are not ideal for minimizing back pain.PolyesterPolyester, or fiberfill, is a down alternative if you are allergic to feathers; however, it wears down quicker and grows lumps sooner than traditional down. It feels soft and warm, but provides little in terms of support, so it won’t be a viable option for relieving back pain. It’s hypoallergenic, doesn’t release any odor, and is the least expensive topper material.Benefits of a Mattress TopperMattress toppers are almost always less expensive than buying a new mattress, yet they still offer comfort and spinal support for those who need it. While they’re not a substitute for a full-on mattress, toppers might become your favorite accessory.Adjusts Your Mattress’s FirmnessFor a too firm or too soft mattress, a topper provides a significant change to your sleep surface without you having to buy an entirely new mattress. Be sure to choose the right thickness and firmness for your needs and current mattress. Note that a thick topper will change the height of your mattress to the point that you may need sheets with deeper pockets.Reduces Pressure Build-upA common issue, mainly with firm mattresses, is pressure build-up in the lower back, hips, and shoulders. It causes soreness, discomfort, and aggravates chronic back pain. A mattress topper provides additional cushioning to your mattress to reduce pressure and pain in your back.Promotes Spinal AlignmentThe spine should be neutral, or naturally curved, when sleeping to prevent back pain or pressure buildup. It’s one of the most important aspects of healthy and restorative sleep.One of the main reasons a mattress might feel uncomfortable is because it’s unsupportive and throwing your spine out of alignment, resulting in achiness, stiffness, lower back pain, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and more.Mattress toppers can provide needed support to your mattress, align your spine, and evenly distribute body weight, so you don’t sink into your bed and exacerbate existing back pain. To keep your mattress topper from sliding, you use to use a flat sheet or a mattress protector. This will ensure that it remains stable and supports you correctly.Extends Your Mattress’s LifeMattress toppers protect your mattress from stains, dust, and bodily sweat or oils, potentially extending your bed’s lifespan. However, we do not recommend using a topper as a substitute for a mattress protector. Protectors are made to shield your bed from dust mites, bed bugs, and other things that can harm your bed, so always use these on your mattress in addition to your topper.Keeps You CoolCooling toppers (latex or memory foam with cooling technologies) are useful for hot sleepers as they’re breathable, provide great airflow, and wick away sweat. While staying cool is not crucial to relieving back pain, it may reduce any additional discomfort preventing you from sleeping comfortably.FAQsDo I need a mattress topper or a new mattress?Mattresses are expensive, so, understandably, you’d want to avoid getting a new one and would rather use a mattress topper. However, toppers are only a temporary solution. They work well if your bed is the wrong firmness for you or if you’re looking for a little extra comfort—without a super high price tag.If your mattress is between 7 to 10 years old, lumpy, yellowing, or sagging, a topper can only do so much in terms of adding support and comfort and you may need to invest in a new mattress.What’s the difference between a mattress topper and a mattress pad?While “mattress topper” and “mattress pad” are sometimes used interchangeably, they’re different. Mattress pads are thin and don’t change the feel of your mattress beyond some extra softness. They are commonly made from cotton, wool, down, or memory foam. Mattress pads are attached to a fitted sheet and are often machine-washable.Mattress toppers either soften or firm up your bed. Typically made of foam, they’re thicker than mattress pads and provide back and spine support. Note that neither toppers nor pads are substitutes for mattress protectors.How do I know if my mattress is causing my back pain?Some ways to determine if your mattress it the source of your back pain are:If you go to sleep without pain, but constantly wake up with itIf your mattress is 7 years or olderIf you can’t get comfortable in bed or struggle to fall asleep due to discomfortUsing a mattress topper can relieve back pain, but if your mattress is older than 7 years old and starting to sag, it might be time to upgrade your mattress.Why does my back hurt after sleeping on a new bed?Your body needs time to adjust to a new sleeping surface. When you switch from an unsupportive mattress to a new one, there’s a transition period since your body likely got used to the old sleeping surface. Also, new beds can be just a tad bit firm when you first use them and it can take a few days or weeks for them to soften up.How long do mattress toppers last?Mattress toppers can last 3 to 5 years depending on their materials. Toppers with a high-density memory foam (4 pounds per cubic foot or higher) might last longer than low-density memory foam (3 pounds per cubic foot or lower).To extend its lifespan, be sure to keep your mattress topper clean by using a mattress protector and fitted sheet.ConclusionMattress toppers aren’t a replacement for a new bed, but they can revitalize a slightly aged mattress and provide extra support and cushioning when needed. With proper support, you can find significant relief from your back pain and sleep without interruptions.Remember, a mattress topper isn’t a substitute for treatment. If you haven’t already, always speak to your doctor if you are suffering from chronic pain.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.