A comfortable bed is one of the greatest things a person with back pain can have. A good bed should be firm enough to support the body in alignment but not so firm as to apply pressure to the hips, shoulders and other points of contact.
Box springs accompanied by sparse metal frames have been the most common type of bed for some time in the US The metal frame outlines the box spring; some have extra bars to provide additional support. The box spring itself is relied upon for most of the structural support of the bed. Box springs consist of a wooden and / or metal frame which houses rows of springs. The springs allow for cushioning and movement while the frame provides structural support. Box spring mattresses are bed bases and are meant to be used with another mattress on top.
Recently, box springs have begun to fall out of favor. Over time they warp, sag and fail to provide proper support to the body. This is especially of note to people with back pain. Warped or sagging beds cause the spinal and hip joints to fall out of alignment. This can lead to joint and muscle pain as the muscles are relied upon to maintain alignment.
The West is just coming around to the type of sleeping accommodations other cultures have been using through history. There is no comprehensive research on the best type of bed for people with back pain, but plenty of anecdotal evidence exists that a firm, flat sleeping surface is advantageous. A quick internet search will reveal a number of forum posts from people whose back pain has been eliminated or reduced by sleeping on the floor, for example.
Yet the answer may be different for everyone. The floor is not an ideal bed for many. Sleeping on the floor without a mattress may apply too much pressure to your hips and shoulders and cause joint pain, for example. Placing the mattress of your choice directly on the floor may solve that problem, however, the lack of ventilation between the mattress and the floor can cause mold and mildew issues. Also, getting in and out of bed is more difficult when it is at floor level.
Platform bed frames are meant to mimic the structural benefits of sleeping on the floor but eliminate the mold and elevation concerns around it. Platform frames are very low to the ground, however. They are usually constructed of a flat wooden slab that is raised slowly from the floor. Platform frames provide a stable base for the mattress of your choice without the risk of warping or sagging.
Panel frames are similar to platform frames, but instead of one solid slab, panel beds have a number of wooden panels that fit together to form a base. These bed frames have the advantage of extra height, a footboard and a head board, but they generally require extra support in the form of a box spring or bunkie board to prevent the mattress from sagging in between panels. A bunkie board is simply a thin piece of plywood covered in fabric that provides extra support to your bed. While this eliminates the need for a box spring, it adds an extra component to your bed configuration, which means an extra cost.
Panel and platform beds have clear advantages over typical box spring frames. Platform beds have the advantage of simplicity and cost over panel beds. Platform beds are simpler in design; some have drawers built into them which raises the price, but a basic queen-size platform frame can be purchased for under $ 150. Panel designs are more ornate and tend to cost over $ 300, depending on size. Bunkie boards tend to cost at least $ 50, and the price varies by size.
If you're a do-it-yourself type, consider building your own frame or bunkie board. Instructions for building your own platform bed frame can be found at
http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-easy-low-waste-platform-bed/ . To learn how to make your own bunkie board, see http://www.ehow.com/how_5103896_make-bunkie-board.html .
When choosing between a platform and panel bed frame, consider the cost and decorative comparisons. Platform frames can be purchased inexpensively if simplicity is your goal. Panel beds are more decorative but also more expensive and require an extra component for support. Next, let's look at the best mattress options for these types of frames.