Chronic pain is a major public health problem affecting more and more people nowadays. Unlike the acute and usual pain, chronic pain one is a real multidimensional pathology in its own right that greatly alters a person’s quality of life. Among the most common chronic pains, are spine, hip and back pain. These pains are multifactorial and often related to our habits and posture, especially during sleep.
Spine and back pain has become a public health problem. To counter it, many rheumatologists, pain specialists and chiropractors are advising the use of adjustable beds, which constitute a revolution in both curative and preventive chronic pain management.
What are these adjustable beds? How do they work? What are their effects on our body? And how do they help to reduce chronic pain?
The purpose of this article is to answer all these questions and explain scientifically why adjustable beds are the best solution for you.
The Importance of Using Adjustable Beds for Chronic Pain Relief:
According to the World Health Organization, chronic pain affects more than 35% of the adult population and more than 73% of the population beyond 60 years. People with chronic pain have to deal with physically and emotionally draining pain in everyday life. Even in cases of appropriate care, often times the drugs prescribed are not enough for full relief. Besides, many people want to try other options before going on powerful and dangerous drugs. Chronic pain is often times accompanied with anxiety, depression and poor sleep. These things often make the pain worse.
The History of Adjustable Beds
Adjustable beds were first used by Scientists from the NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) who found that the takeoff force had a huge impact on its astronauts, especially when the initial position and posture of astronauts is inadequate. This deleterious phenomenon affects bones, muscles and creates a multitude of physical complications. Thus, the idea of a seat that provides a position called “zero gravity”, (a position which spreads pressure points evenly over the body) minimized these side effects
The conclusion here is that you do not have to be an astronaut to have aches and pains from resting in the wrong position. The condition of your health, posture and the ergonomics of your sleep position are all factors contributing to physical ailments. The “zero gravity” position is ideally suited to reduce the pressure points during sleep, and an adjustable bed offers precisely this position.
Adjustable beds are designed to remember the morphology of their users. Initially prescribed for elderly and bedridden patients, they are now used by more and more people around the world. This is because the prevalence of chronic pain has increased tremendously, and because we now try to use “preventive” medicine to combat potential problems before we need chronic pain relief. It is always wiser to use an adjustable bed to prevent chronic pain than it is to use it to treat chronic pain.
How do Adjustable Beds Work?
An adjustable bed normally uses a custom foam mattress that has to meet the particular needs of a person, some call it “memory foam”. The density of the mattress is uneven to better support certain parts of the body, including the spine where the weight of the person is concentrated. There are many types and models, a specialist will better tell you how to make your choice depending on the ailments you suffer from.
Each person has a particular way of sleeping and this affects the bed. For example, those who sleep on their back support a few points of the column and therefore need a foam that is firmer at certain areas so that the curvature of the back remains aligned. Those who like to be on the stomach will need a stiffer mattress to avoid bending the spine and aggravating their chronic pain. Similarly, those who like to lie on their side need a softer mattress in the middle which is where the weight of the body is concentrated. The weight of the user is also a factor considered by the adjustable bed because often an obese person will need more support.
How Does an Adjustable Bed Provide Chronic Pain Relief?
To begin, let’s look at the causes of chronic pain to understand how these adjustable beds can reduce your complaints:
Muscle Problems and Bad Alignment of the Spine
An adjustable bed can be the ultimate solution for people who suffer from chronic pain, or those who must remain bedridden for a long time. It provides a better comfort than a conventional bed and has additional support for the spine. By keeping the spine in proper alignment, the back muscles can completely relax as they no longer need to support the spine.
In general, when using a traditional mattress for several years, its surface becomes uneven causing pain when waking and aggravating the pre-existing conditions that cause chronic pain. A good adjustable bed quickly returns to its original shape but fits your silhouette as soon as you get back in it to go to sleep.
Chronic pain is often due to tension, herniated discs in the spine and other muscle problems (cramps, contractions…), these various phenomena push many people naturally adopt a bad position during sleep. While this is a natural reaction to pain, it can actually make the pain worse. An adjustable bed allows the body to be placed in positions that rest the muscles of the trunk, which eliminates points of tension and thus reduces chronic pain.
An adjustable bed also allows you to take into account all of your personal parameters so that you can adjust the bed into the perfect position for you. This allows you to feel more relaxed during sleep and improves the quality of your sleep. All of these factors help reduce the vicious cycle of chronic pain causing bad sleep and bad sleep aggravating chronic pain.
Too Soft, Too Hard or Bad Quality Bed
Unfortunately, this is also one of the most common causes of chronic pain in the neck and back. Many people have not changed their bed or mattress for many years, and very often the mattress they initially bought was not all that good. We end up paying more money for consultations with doctors, chiropractors and buying drugs in the pharmacy instead of just buying an adjustable bed and mattress in the first place.
As a result of sleeping in an uncomfortable, uneven and bad quality bed, we reinforce vicious attitudes that maintain chronic pain. It is therefore essential to replace your old mattress when using an adjustable bed. This will keep you in an ideal posture that will prevent you from chronic pain.
Stress and Chronic Pain
Stress is the physiological response of the body to a threat or a constraint. During evolution, this natural was essential for survival. But when it comes to chronic pain, stress can disturb our biological balance more sustainably, resulting in both mental and physical symptoms, especially if the chronic pain doesn’t respond to conventional treatments.
Very often, the mental tension we have with chronic pain shows up in our body, the muscles of the back and the neck (two sensitive zones) become tense, wrinkled and painful. Studies confirm that there is a link between sleep posture, stress, anxiety and chronic pain. By treating sleep posture, we can provide chronic pain relief as well as the stress and anxiety that goes along with it.
While we can’t necessarily know what caused what, did the chronic pain cause the stress and anxiety or did the stress and anxiety cause the chronic pain? What we do know is that using an adjustable bed most people can find relief from all of the symptoms.
The mechanisms that allows stress to aggravate chronic pain include a release of pro-inflammatory molecules called prostaglandins that can lead to chronic inflammation which makes us more sensitive to pain. Indeed, all painful chronic diseases (arthritis, fibromyalgia and even cancers …) contain an inflammatory component.
In Other Words, Poor Sleep Leads to Stress, and Stress Leads to Chronic Inflammation and Chronic Pain.
To block this vicious circle, adopting an adjustable bed is a golden solution. Indeed, by improving the quality of your sleep, your body will secrete more endorphins (antioxidant molecules that have relaxing properties). This will decrease your basal stress and provide chronic pain relief.
Another benefit of using an adjustable bed is better circulation. This provides you with a deeper and more restorative sleep. By improving your sleep quality, your state of stress and the inflammatory response of your body decreases. This helps to reduce chronic pain.
Other Benefits of Adjustable Beds
Poor sleep is also a factor in other diseases and disorders such as asthma and peripheral artery disease. An adjustable bed offers your body the perfect position to reduce them:
- For asthma: Adjustable beds allows a better air flow in the respiratory airways, which helps a person to inhale air more effectively and therefore reduces the night symptoms related to this pathology. This type of bed also reduces the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and helps improve the overall the quality of sleep
- For gastro-esophageal reflux: Adjustable bed allows a favorable position for gastric emptying and therefore reduces the symptoms of this pathology.
- For venous insufficiency: Adjustable bed let you adopt a higher feet position for better overall circulation.
- All of these things will help improve your sleep and thus, reduce chronic pain.
- To check out a wide range of adjustable beds and find the right one for you, click here.
To conclude, chronic pain is a very disabling symptom/pathology in our society today. This public health issue is getting more and more common, particularly because of the aging of the population and poor postural habits, especially during sleep.
Often, the use of conventional analgesics is insufficient to calm chronic pain. It is therefore necessary to treat the problem at its source and adopt the use of adjustable bed. More and more rheumatologists, chiropractors and chronic pain specialists recommend these types of beds that allow the body to rest more effectively and avoid muscle, joint and back problems.
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Before-after study to determine the effectiveness of an adjustable wood frame-foam in reducing chronic back pain in adults. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
- Effects of an adapted mattress in musculoskeletal pain and sleep quality.
- Adjustable Beds and Spine Health.
- Adjustable Beds Help Support Healthier Living: