The foam mattress-back syndrome

J Assoc Physicians India. 2000 Sep;48(9):901-2.


Background: Many medical residents used to sleeping on cotton mattresses at home complain of mild to moderate back pain after sleeping on foam mattresses provided in the hospital and hostel rooms.

Objective: To determine the relationship of sleeping on foam mattress with the appearance of back pain in a 500 bedded multispecialty tertiary care hospital.

Methods: One hundred medical residents were interviewed for the appearance of backache after sleeping on 10 cm thick foam mattress provided to them in the hostels. Pain was scored over a visual analog scale of 10 cm. Effect of sleeping on a regular cotton mattress was assessed.

Results: Sixty-three (5 female residents) developed back pain on the morning of a night of sleep over the foam mattress. The pain was mostly of lower back and was not associated with any objective neurodeficit. Four residents on account of the backache reported thirteen episodes of absenteeism. Sixty-one residents had a relief of the pain on going home where they would sleep on regular cotton mattresses, only to recur after sleeping again on the foam mattress in the hospital/hostel.

Conclusion: Sleeping on foam mattress is associated with the appearance of backache in medical residents which is reproducible and gets relieved after using regular cotton mattresses.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Back Pain / etiology*
  • Beds / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Syndrome