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Off with the pain!

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When he got a sudden attack of acute back pain, Jagjit Singh Narula, a bank officer based in Delhi, went through the usual sessions of exercise and physiotherapy. His doctor said that he needed to do one thing more — sleep on an orthopaedic mattress.

With a lifestyle disease like backache and spinal problems on the rise among Indians, the market is now flooded with orthopaedic mattresses which are meant for people with chronic back pain.

Indeed, almost every mattress manufacturer has orthopaedic ones on offer. And all of them claim to provide firm back support and a range of beneficial effects for those suffer from back pain.

So how does one decide which orthopaedic mattress to pick up?

The thumb rule for buying a mattress — any mattress — is that it should not be too soft, says Dr Pankaj Gupta, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Mata Chanan Devi Hospital, Delhi. “Our spine is ‘S’ shaped. Hence it is essential that it gets the required support when we lie down. If we sleep on a soft mattress made from normal foam, we would sink into it and our spine would not get proper support. Thus coir mattresses are advisable. Even spring mattresses that are not too bouncy are good.”

Adds Dr Puneet Dilwari, senior consultant and orthopedic surgeon at Max Hospital and Mulchand Hospital, Delhi, “It is best to use rigid, spring mattresses that support the body contour and rest the ‘S’ shape of the spine.”

Companies like Kurl-on, Springwel, Spring Air, Spingfit, Eclipse, Centuary India all have orthopaedic mattresses. Kurl-on has a signature brand of orthopaedic mattresses which, the manufacturer claims, is therapeutic in nature with “zero pressure point (ZPP) technology”.

Says Chandan Chakraborty, area business manager, Kurl-on Limited, “When we lie down our body is subjected to about 180 pressure points.” He claims that with ZPP technology these pressure points are reduced.

These mattresses are made from “visco elastic foam”, popularly known as memory foam, high density rubberised coir and bonded foam. The memory foam softens the pressure points and moulds itself to the shape of the body. They are priced between Rs 19, 000 and Rs 24,000.

Spring Air’s orthopaedic mattress is also made from high-density visco-elastic memory foam which softens with body heat, allowing it to mould itself to the shape of the body. There are several variants in Spring Air’s orthopaedic mattress range.

Says Ashok Sharma, CEO, Spring Air — Middle-East and Indian Sub Continent, “Our mattresses have temperature sensitive and pressure relieving memory foam material, which is clubbed with ultra cell high density foam to give the customers comfort encapsulated with therapeutic properties.” Spring Air’s orthopaedic mattresses are priced between Rs 25, 000 and Rs 1,00,000.

Centuary India has also come up with orthopaedic mattresses. These are “sandwich mattresses with high density rubberised coir sheets on top and bottom with rebonded foam and polyurethane foam in between. The high-density coir sheets ensure good spinal support since both coir and rubber are natural products and are eco-friendly,” says M.K. Prabhakar, general manager marketing of Centuary Fibre Plates Pvt. Ltd.

Coir, being hydroscopic, retains up to six to eight per cent moisture and hence is cooler than any other type of mattress, he adds. Centuary’s orthopaedic mattresses cost between Rs 7100 and Rs 16,500.

Springwel’s “physio” mattresses, priced between Rs 14, 000 and Rs 18,000, are also made from coir. A Springwel “physio” mattress is priced between Rs 14, 000 and Rs 18,000.

However, not everyone agrees that mattresses with a coir component are good for the back. Says Dr Dilwari, “With regular use the coir tends to shift, thereby making the surface irregularly hard and soft.”

Springfit is yet another manufacturer that offers a range of orthopaedic mattresses. “These are triple-zoned stress-free spring mattresses that prevent back pain and muscle discomfort while improving blood circulation,” claims Nipun Gupta, director, Springfit. The collection begins from Rs 28,000.

Most of the companies claim that they follow medical recommendations in manufacturing therapeutic mattresses. Says Bhuvnesh Kumar Vijh, CEO of Sleep Options, another manufacturer of ortho mattresses, “We make mattresses which are approved by the American Chiropractic Association.” The price of Sleep Options ortho mattress starts from Rs 12,000.

However, there are those who believe that “orthopaedic” mattresses are nothing more than a clever marketing gimmick. As consumer activist Bijon Mishra asserts, “The concept of orthopaedic mattresses is completely misleading and is only a selling gimmick. All that a medical practitioner recommends if you have a back problem is that you should sleep on a hard surface.” According to him there is no standardisation for mattresses available from the Bureau of Indian Standards either.

Of course, most doctors feel that “orthopaedic” mattresses can never actually “treat” a spinal problem.

But if they feel firm and yet comfortable, go ahead and pick one up. They are certainly better for you than too soft or lumpy mattresses that will only aggravate your back problem.


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