Back and Neck Injury/sleep support



I have a new partner who has lived with chronic back/neck pain for almost 2 decades. When he sleeps over, my mattress/bed leaves him in more pain the next day. Is there anything that I can do/buy to make sleeping at my cause less pain for him?

I searched online and I can't buy an expensive mattress but there seemed to be other things (pillows, toppers, wedges etc) that are more affordable. I don't know anything about any of this- I like my pillows and mattress to feel like a fluffy cloud! Can you recommend anything? Or combination of things that we can try?

Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi Kathy,

Well, it depends on what you are willing to compromise on. I don't think a pillow topper or just a pillow is going to make a difference. A new mattress maybe, but the expense is prohibitive and you don't know if that is the problem.

What you can try is seeing if having the mattress a little firmer would help. This can be done affordably by having a 1/2 inch plywood board placed under the mattress. This would firm it up some without a huge expense. You can usually find places like Lowes to cut it for you if you take measurements. Now, this might help him and may not be as comfortable for you, but if you can still get a good night's sleep and not have any issues with pain, it might be worth it.

You can get an idea if this would help without having to get the plywood first. If you can pile up some covers on the floor and spend one night sleeping on the floor comfortably, then see how he feels the next morning. If this helps and you can still move, perhaps the plywood might be helpful. If not, see what mattress he uses and, if it is comfortable to you, make him go in half with you.

Anyway, I hope this helps and all the best!


Dr. Steve

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Dr. Steve,

Thank you for the suggestions! A friend at work actually suggested the plywood option so I will definitely give that a try. I'm wondering, though- can I use plywood that will only cover half of the bed- his half?

I was hoping that there might be a combination of things we could try together in lieu of an expensive mattress- we haven't been dating that long so I don't think it's an option anyway, at this point.

I've just read that a firmer mattress and pillows are better for people with back pain- as of now, my mattress is soft and so are my pillows bc that's how I like them- would a different/special pillow help him at all? In combination w plywood?

I know he will always have pain- I just want to make him more comfortable while at my place- anything that I can add/adjust to one side of the bed while my side stays the same. Probably wishful thinking but I hate that he has more pain after a night in my bed.

Thank you so much for your help and advice!

Hi Kathy,

It may not be quite as effective, however, having the plywood on one side would probably work.

I don't think a neck and head pillow would help unless he has neck issues and usually topper type pillows are soft. You would probably not want a pillow used under the lower back as this could produce more pain and interfere with changing positions. It is possible that a body pillow might afford him a more supportive sleep, with it under the knees on his back and under a leg or between the legs on the side. Something like the is ergonomic and easy to maneuver without taking up much space.

I wish I could better advise you on this. Your concern for his well being is inspiring. I hope he realizes how lucky he is.

Dr. Steve

Back and Neck Injury

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Dr. Steve Ornstein


I can answer questions regarding neck and back pain treatment and general musculoskeletal conditions. Acute, chronic and degenerative conditions using various methods; exercise, rehabilitation, traction. Pain relief methods and professional quality products via website at which can be used at home.


Graduated Chiropractic College in 1987, working in numerous clinics within two states using a variety of manual and physiological therapies. Involved in martial arts for 20 years.

Chiropractor Sherman College, Certified in Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Certified Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Studied with Dr. Cox using Flexion Distraction Technique, Studied with Dr. Leahy using Active Release Technique. Myofascial Release with Dr. Rockwell - Parker Chiropractic College. Certified in Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy.

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