I have been sleeping on a futon for 2 yrs and never had back pain.
I slept on a queen size air mattress, a big one, last nite and my lower back is killing me now.
Which is more healthy and better for my back?
I would stick with the futon then. I personally have always had better luck with futons than airmattresses. I slept on a futon all through college, but it was one of those interspring ones so it was a little firmer.
I have been sleeping and sitting on a futon for the last 3 years. After about 6 months of the original futon mattress I decided I was going to upgrade to a memory foam mattress. I found RockyMountainMattress.com and they made me a custom made memory foam futon mattress. They made the foam for me and then I had a cover made locally and I love it. Just another thought in regards to futons.
I've had chronic back pain for about 4 years now due to herniated discs. I can say from my own experience to stay clear of memory foam. I bought a very expensive posturepedic memory foam mattress which was the worst decision I ever made. My advice is to look for a medium to firm mattress. I have a medium, which has drastically improved my nights sleep. Just my 2 cents.
It's honestly a personal preference. They used to tell people with back pain to get a firm mattress, but now they say that you should go with what's comfortable for you. Firmness provides support, but also creates pressure points because your body doesn't sink in to it, especially if you are a side-sleeper. Too soft of a mattress gives too little support, so your spine is out of alignment. Some people find that air mattresses are too soft, especially if they aren't pumped up enough.
If you find something that's comfortable, go with it. If you do buy a new mattress, make sure you lay on it for at least 15 minutes in the position you normally sleep in before you buy it.
(Also: use the box spring and frame that come with the mattress and use a mattress protector to prevent stains--if you don't, you can void the warranty. Even a tiny little water mark can be enough for the manufacturer to void it. Just FYI.)
I used to suffer from severe back pain for a few years. I recently bought a futon bed and found it was much more comfortable, soft yet firm. It helped support my body posture whilst i slept and felt much more of a difference and also meant I woke up less during the night. Highly recommend.