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Help with shoulder/upper back pain with new latex mattress 19 Jun 2014 07:14 #1

Hi there! I'm about 3 1/2 weeks into my new latex mattress, and I've been having some aches and pains in my shoulders and upper back. Specifically in my shoulder blades and my spine between my shoulder blades. Sometimes this even results in a stiff neck and a headache/nausea. Sometimes the pain radiates to my ribcage. Also: sometimes I will wake up with a heaviness in my limbs, making me feel as if I weigh 1,000 pounds. Don't know what that's about. Circulation issue? Speaking of circulation: I've noticed that I have more of a "blood rushing" sound in my head when I wake up (as if the bed has some effect on my blood pressure -- is this even possible?).

Here are some specs on the mattress and my body type:
-10" of 100% Dunlop
-The company I bought it from (The Mattress Maker in Brockton, MA) rates the firmness of their latex from C1-C5 (C5 being firmest). I currently have a 2" comfort layer of C4 with a 6" core of C3 and another 2" of C4 on the bottom. The maker of my bed said he didn't want to put in a C4 core because it would be hard as a rock, but I was under the impression the comfort layer should be softer than the support layer.
-I'm 5'6" and weigh 240.
-I am typically a stomach sleeper. I typically sleep with my arms cradled around the pillow. I can re-create a lot of the pain if I position myself in a typical stomach-sleeping position that I use (upper body slightly bent at a 20 degree angle with pillow cradled in my arms while on my stomach).
-My mattress before this was an 8-year-old futon that I slept on on the floor, which gave me none of these problems.

So what do you think is causing the aches? And what configuration of layers do you recommend to remedy these aches? I have a 60-day comfort guarantee and will probably use it since it's been over 3 weeks now with no improvement. The only thing I can think of is perhaps starting with using a new, flatter pillow and seeing if that helps with the shoulder/upper back pain.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Help with shoulder/upper back pain with new latex mattress 19 Jun 2014 09:59 #2

Hi oval99,

Sometimes the pain radiates to my ribcage. Also: sometimes I will wake up with a heaviness in my limbs, making me feel as if I weigh 1,000 pounds. Don't know what that's about. Circulation issue? Speaking of circulation: I've noticed that I have more of a "blood rushing" sound in my head when I wake up (as if the bed has some effect on my blood pressure -- is this even possible?).


Unfortunately there isn't a way for me to know with any certainty the underlying cause behind any symptoms because I can't feel what you feel on the mattress (or in your body). It would be similar to a health professional trying to diagnose a health condition based on a brief description on a forum. Having said that ... post #2 here and the posts it links to has more information about the more common "symptoms" on a mattress and some of the things that may be contributing to them which may help you with the "detective work" that can be involved in assessing what may be happening and help you decide if you need firmer or softer comfort layers or firmer or softer support layers. Post #2 here also has some other suggestions that would be worth investigating.

-10" of 100% Dunlop
-The company I bought it from (The Mattress Maker in Brockton, MA) rates the firmness of their latex from C1-C5 (C5 being firmest). I currently have a 2" comfort layer of C4 with a 6" core of C3 and another 2" of C4 on the bottom. The maker of my bed said he didn't want to put in a C4 core because it would be hard as a rock, but I was under the impression the comfort layer should be softer than the support layer.


There aren't any rules about mattress designs that hold true for everyone and what works for one person (or even many people) may not work at all for someone else. In the end your actual results are more important than any "theory" but it's certainly true that support cores are almost always firmer than the comfort layers of a mattress. If your mattress is using 100% natural Dunlop from Mountaintop foam you can see their firmness ratings here and I don't think I would call their C4 "hard as a rock" when it's used as a support layer (although it may feel very firm when it's used as a comfort layer) and it isn't the firmest core that they make.

-I am typically a stomach sleeper. I typically sleep with my arms cradled around the pillow. I can re-create a lot of the pain if I position myself in a typical stomach-sleeping position that I use (upper body slightly bent at a 20 degree angle with pillow cradled in my arms while on my stomach).
-My mattress before this was an 8-year-old futon that I slept on on the floor, which gave me none of these problems.

So what do you think is causing the aches? And what configuration of layers do you recommend to remedy these aches? I have a 60-day comfort guarantee and will probably use it since it's been over 3 weeks now with no improvement. The only thing I can think of is perhaps starting with using a new, flatter pillow and seeing if that helps with the shoulder/upper back pain.


As you probably know stomach sleeping is the most risky of all the sleeping positions in terms of alignment but based on your comments it seems to me that you are on the right track and if I had to guess I would agree that the most likely cause of your "symptoms" would either be a pillow issue (raising your head and neck too much) or that you may need softer comfort layers and a firmer support core to help you with your upper body alignment and to prevent your pelvis from sagging into the mattress. It's not uncommon at all that a softer mattress (and your mattress is probably softer than the futon you were sleeping on) may need a thinner pillow (or no pillow at all in the case of stomach sleepers) because you will sink into it more. It may also be helpful to put a thin pillow under your pelvis/lower abdomen so that the middle of your body is better aligned with your upper body and reduce the 20 degree angle to see how this affects things as well.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Help with shoulder/upper back pain with new latex mattress 19 Jun 2014 10:15 #3

Thanks for the (very) detailed reply Phoenix! I think I will swap out my pillow for a thinner one. If that doesn't work, I'll go for a firmer support core and a softer comfort layer...

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Help with shoulder/upper back pain with new latex mattress 20 Jun 2014 07:24 #4

Quick question Phoenix: do you think getting the mattress re-calibrated to a C4 core with a C3 comfort layer and a C4 bottom layer would be a reasonable option? Again, my current config is C4 comfort layer with a C3 core and C4 bottom.

My aim is to have the mattress firmer for better alignment and support (especially of shoulder/upper body). **Would having a softer comfort layer mean that I'd sink in more though? Or would the firmer support layer help compensate that?

Thanks!

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Help with shoulder/upper back pain with new latex mattress 20 Jun 2014 10:28 #5

Hi oval99,

Quick question Phoenix: do you think getting the mattress re-calibrated to a C4 core with a C3 comfort layer and a C4 bottom layer would be a reasonable option? Again, my current config is C4 comfort layer with a C3 core and C4 bottom.


There's really no way for me to know this because I can't see you on the mattress or feel what you feel.

In your previous post you mentioned ...

I can re-create a lot of the pain if I position myself in a typical stomach-sleeping position that I use (upper body slightly bent at a 20 degree angle with pillow cradled in my arms while on my stomach).


... so if I was in your shoes I would go to Mattress Makers and discuss your "symptoms" with them and test different mattresses there to see which mattress causes similar sensations and which ones seem to work better than the mattress you have and then you can use the ones that work best as a reference point for the relative firmness of the comfort and support layers that work best for you. Your own personal experience will be a better source of guidance than any "theory at a distance".

My aim is to have the mattress firmer for better alignment and support (especially of shoulder/upper body). **Would having a softer comfort layer mean that I'd sink in more though? Or would the firmer support layer help compensate that?


I would keep in mind that a mattress that is too firm and a mattress that is too soft can both lead to poor alignment (see this picture ). If the cause of your symptoms are that your upper body isn't sinking into the comfort layerss enough (keeping in mind that it could also be a pillow issue) and your lower body is sinking in too much then you may need a softer comfort layer to "allow" your upper body (with your arms under your pillow) to sink in more so it's in better alignment relative to the rest of your body. A softer comfort layer would also allow your pelvis to sink in more easily of course which is always the risk with stomach sleeping but the firmer support layer can compensate for this to some degree so that once your pelvis sinks in to the softer comfort layer to a certain point it would be "stopped" a little more quickly by the firmer layer below it. The goal of a mattress is always good alignment which means that that you need a combination of layers that "allows" some parts of your body to sink in more easily to a certain depth and also "stops" other parts of your body from sinking in too much.

Phoenix
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
Click here for TMU Discount Codes if purchasing from Our Trusted Members.
For any mattress questions Ask An Expert on our forum

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Last edit: by phoenix.
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