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post-fusion: anyone "twisting" while sleeping? (esp. lumbar spineys)

aimlessaaimless Posts: 372
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm one week out from ALIF L5-S1, I went for a walk yesterday afternoon and found that my left hip was sore. (My left side was the one affected by the nerve compression). It was better by the time I got home, but then sore again on my next walk.

When I woke up in the middle of the night for my midnight percocet dose, I felt like I was twisted a bit (I sleep on my side) despite having pillows on both sides of me and between my knees to keep my body straight. Anyone else feel like they have "BLT" issues in bed? How do you get/stay comfortable? (Sure enough, my hip is sore this morning too).
Thanks for any suggestions!


  • I don't have your lumbar issues, but when I was told by the NS that I could wear a soft collar to sleep (after 3 weeks in a hard collar), I tried it and woke up very sore. I figured that I'd moved my head around while sleeping, so I chose to wear my hard collar to bed.

    Perhaps a brace would help. Just my 2 cents. :|
  • I've thought about wearing my brace to bed (I just have a soft corset brace).

    Going to call my doc's office now, see what they think it may be. Thanks for your $.02 :)
  • I don't have a specific comment for this point in your recovery...just a couple general comments. I think you will find that since you had pain for some time, your muscles have learned to accommodate the pain by rebalancing, and that your posture is probably out of alignment as a result. You know how you favor a part of the body if it hurts? This results in using the opposite part of the body in more ways than it is used to. As a result you may become stronger on one side and weaker on the other.

    When it is the back, you can develop muscle and ligament imbalances and it will take you awhile to correct this imbalance. Right now you are too early in your recovery to worry about it. When you start PT you can begin to address this issue.

    In the meantime, when you are walking, concentrate on trying to keep your hips on the same plane (so neither is higher than the other), try to swing your legs through and try to keep your feet pointed straight ahead. Since you have just had surgery, you should try to shorten your stride. If you walk with a longer stride, it puts additional pressure on the pelvis and causes it to tip slightly forward. You can go back to the longer stride after you have been healing for awhile.

    Also, I would suggest that you spend some time each hour lying flat on your bed, on your back, of course, with something under your knees, or with your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent pointing toward the ceiling. When you get further along, do this on the floor (without a pillow under your head.) This position allows your discs to unload and if done carefully, will help your body settle into a more proper alignment. This is something you should continue to do for the rest of your life. It is a type of natural "traction" that will help your spine overcome the effects of gravity.

    When you are further along, anytime your back feels stressed, lie on the floor for 10 minutes, with your spine straight along the floor, breathe deeply and just relax. It really is very beneficial and will help you keep from feeling "torqued."

    Remember, you are very early in your recovery. Learn to be patient and try not to rush the process.

    I didn't have a brace after my fusion, so I can't make any suggestions about the use of one!!

    How did your walk feel other than your hip hurting?
  • You make some interesting points -
    Muscles waking up - that was my initial thought, since I have been a mess for so long with the nerve pain, who knows what else was going on that I could not feel or what was compensating for what.
    Stride: Its worse on stairs and hills, and with longer strides. Normal strides, less so.

    I suspect there is some imbalance, though I am feeling some ache on the right as well. My paranoia is blood clots in my legs, and fear of not moving enough.

    I suppose I am just like everyone else post op, wondering "am I doing this right" or did I just screw up" or what is this weird pain"??

    Walking with short strides feels great. Currently doing 2 walks a day, will focus on the short strides :)))
  • I am beginning to believe that the way that I sleep (side, back, other side) is causing my sore hip issues as well. I had a PLIF (L5-S1) 8 weeks ago and for the past 2.5 weeks I have had a terrible pain in the hip and tailbone that hurts every night, when I get out of bed in the morning and after sittng awhile. The doctor prescribed a cortosteroid today to help reduce the inflammation that may be causing the pain. If it hasn't gone away in days then I'm supposed to call and get an exray.

    After 1 week post ALIF I would think that you are doing pretty good. I felt pretty good at 5 weeks, but seem to have taken a few steps backwards lately.

    I wish I could tell you how to sleep to reduce the pain, but I am still at a loss. I'm sure we'll figure it out in time though.

    Take care and hang in there.
  • I always used to sleep on my side or stomach when I was younger, then I had various issues (broken leg, dislocated arm - twice) so I learned to sleep on my back. After my lumbar fusion I continued to do so. Since I started to use a memory foam mattress topper, I feel like I have been sleeping on a cloud, and bounce out of bed like I have not been able to for many years. You may want to try it (sleeping on your back on a memory foam topper).

  • I always used to sleep on my side or stomach when I was younger, then I had various issues (broken leg, dislocated arm - twice) so I learned to sleep on my back. After my lumbar fusion I continued to do so. Since I started to use a memory foam mattress topper, I feel like I have been sleeping on a cloud, and bounce out of bed like I have not been able to for many years. You may want to try it (sleeping on your back on a memory foam topper).

  • I didn't hear back from the nurse practitioner today; I napped in my brace and will try sleeping in it tonight. Mattress - could also be a factor, my mattress has a "pillow top" which has always been comfy but maybe not supportive enough now...

    Also occurred to me that with the restored disc height/space between the vertebrae, maybe that is influencing the ache... will keep calling them tomorrow...
  • either slept in my recliner (which kept me from moving easily) or used a Comfort U Pillow, which was quite huge and went all the way from the front, under my neck and then to the back. Individual pillows would move and not keep me from twisting. The pillow was pricey but so comfy.

    Good luck!

  • After my surgery I found it really difficult to sleep. The first few weeks in hospital were fine as I was too afraid to move in case I fell out of bed. I used to get out ogf bed to change position LOL
    Once I was home and in a bigger bed I found myself in all sorts of weird positions. The PT said that twisting wan't such an issue in bed as the rods and screws hold everything in place and there is no weight on the spine.
    I also had to have a lot of PT to learn to walk again without limping or leaning to the side as I had done for years.

    The next few months will be full of a lot of ups and downs but you will get there. Just be patient.
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • I did finally get a hold of my doctor's office today, and they said the hip ache was not uncommon and not to worry. As for cause, could be any number of things; she did say to call if it gets worse, so I will monitor over the weekend.

    She also said I should not sleep in the brace, and not wear it TOO much, or the core muscles will atrophy. I forgot about that. Would not want all of my pre-op Pilates to be for nothing. :)))

  • I think gwennie nailed it.One year after my MicroD and spinal infection my hip still hurts.It's nothing compared to the debilitating pain several months ago.Due to favoring my right side my pelvis was severely shifted.My home PT had me doing an exercise to correct the shift.Boy,was that fun.Muscle imbalance can cause a lot of trouble.
    Also,I second Kinpain about the memory foam.My bed takes every single ache away after only 15 minutes.I don't want to get out of it.
    Be patient,it will get better.

  • when i would sleep because im a natural sleep "mover". I sprawl all over the place and always have. During the first week I slept on my sides and never moved I woke up in the same position due to all the pillows and just the overall inablity to move my hips on my own. My hips burned like the devil for a few weeks after that. I never slept on my stomach before but found myself suddenly waking up on my stomach and I had no pain in my hips. Then I started the sprawling routine as I was able to move my hips again freely unlike the first two weeks and it freaked me out because of the BLT restriction. I asked my NS and PT about this and they said basically that my body rolled now to where it wanted to, to get out of pain and to not stay in a static position for to long. The twist I do in bed is not considered to be the twist restriction as its not putting pressure on my spine to do so.
    So now I just sprawl around and wake up with a dull ache in my tail bone, no more hip pain, and no trouble getting out of bed. I guess my body moved to where it wanted to be, and that was perfectly fine in both my NS and PT's eyes. I hope the pain gets better and you find a way to sleep that gives you more comfort.
  • I should add, this is just my own experience with sleeping and you should always consult your doc if you feel like you sleeping habits are effecting your pain. My body finds where it is comfy for me on its own while I sleep and I know thats different for everyone. My twisting in bed (and i showed them in there office on there bed table thing) how i moved in my sleep or on the couch and they said the movement wasnt the restricted twist as most of it was my thorasic movement and not straining my lumbar area or spine.
  • About sleeping, i turn all night long because i can not sleep on the same side for very long and i have trained myself to go right back to sleep. This is true awake as well, i have to get up and move around about every 15-20 minutes because it is so unconfortable. Other then that most of the time i'm doing just great!! :) :) :)

    Evelyn :H
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
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