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Sleeping on stomach post op

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a 2 level fusion (L4-S1) I am just curios as to when people were able to sleep on their stomach? I have always been a stomach sleeper and I cant stand sleeping on my back and side. Any advice?


  • If you want to preserve your fusion, the answer most likely given will be "never." It does not allow the spine to be properly supported and aggravates and exaggerates the normal lumbar curve.

    If you MUST sleep on your stomach, learn to sleep with a small pillow under the area where your belt would rest.

    You may need to learn some new tricks to keep your new spine in proper alignment.

    Other than the sleeping problem, how are things going?
  • I am doing ok. Havent had a good day yet. Nothing but problems between leg pain, nauseau, fever, dehydration, not sleeping, and depression. I am young only in my early 20's so this is very difficult. I regret my surgery almost every day and wish i could go back in time so i can change things. I hope things get better soon
  • Remember, recovery takes a while and during this time you will have lots of ups and downs. You are young, so your body will heal better in time.

    I had a L5 S1 ADR and was told not to sleep on my stomach. However, like you, it is the only way I can get comfortable. So my physio suggested I start by lying on my side with a pillow by my stomach and then gently roll over using the pillow as a support. You are not totally on your stomach, but it does feel like it and will not damage your spine.

    Try it and see how you get on.

    I also got a sedative from my doctor to help me sleep at night, which has helped and made me feel more positive about things. Sleep deprivation is a nightmare!
  • I was also going to suggest the gently roll onto a pillow like SGM says.

    I too was a stomach sleeper.

    Recently I have been able to sleep on my stomach again. I have to watch it - I wake up stiff and sore if I overdo it. It helps to bend one leg up and I also lay on top of one arm. Sounds weird, but it works. I bend my right leg and support my left hip bone wo it doesn't dig into the bed.

    Oh, I have to add that my Physical therapist had me start doing stretches - laying down on stomach, and lifting up onto my elbows and eventually straight-arming it up. I also do 'cat' stretches - arch and bend back gently while in a kneeling position.

    I started these stretches at 6 months post-op. After 10 months of regularly stretching (16 months post-op)I don't have the agonizing pain if I lay on my stomach for a bit.
  • and I still can't do it after my ACDF. I can't keep my head turned enough to breathe! I can certainly sympathize. If the pillows don't work, ask for a sleep aid!
  • After I had my micro at L5/S1 I asked about stomach sleeping since it is my favorite position. My ortho told me if that is what gets me to sleep then do it.

    Now after fusion at L5/S1 my neuro did not tell me I couldn't sleep on my stomach. I have nothing from him or the hospital saying not too. I have quite a few instructions post-op. But none talking about sleeping positions.
  • And where is your medical degree from? Do you have a link to back up this information?
    gwennie17 said:

    If you want to preserve your fusion, the answer most likely given will be "never."
    I had a 2 level fusion in Aug 2007 and have never been given any sleep restrictions. As my surgeon puts it, your gonna do whatever you want while you asleep and there is very little you can do about it. He also told me that I would not damage my fusion.

  • Hi krafcik09! I think you and I are in very similar situations. In fact while reading your posts I had deja vu as if I had written them myself.

    I just turned 27 years old and had a level 1 fusion (L4/5) on November 3rd. I've had a really rough recovery, especially with controlling my pain. I've been pretty depressed lately as well and questioning if I made the right decision.

    I don't have a lot of advice to give you but I just wanted to let you know that you're certainly not alone and it will get better, I promise. I finally got the right 'cocktail' of pain meds figured out and I am feeling a lot better. Do you see a pain management doctor? Sometimes finding the right doctor for you helps *sooooo* much. Do you have anyone who is taking care of you at home?

    I've always been a side sleeper and I'm finding it difficult to sleep on my back. Lately I've been not falling asleep until 4 or 5am and when I wake up I sleep too late and miss taking my pain meds, thus waking up in a lot of pain. The other night I decided to try to put a pillow in between my knees/ankles and sleeping on my side, trying to keep my back aligned. It helped a lot. Maybe that will help you?

    Feel free to send me a private message anytime.

  • I,too, was never given any instructions about sleeping positions. I went to a Rehab hospital for about a week after 2-level ALIF with instrumentation.
    I did ask the doctor about a brace and sleeping. He said my brace was internal and it was going to take a lot for me to break those rods.
    What I do now is slip in the rain, fall on the cement, or overlift and pull muscles in my back. thank God for Amrix and Vicodin. I am mostly off the Vicodin, but take Amrix at least 3-4 nights a week. I do OK in my ISS room at school because I can sit a while and walk awhile.
    Hope all goes well. I went through depression and my dr. put me on Zoloft. It did the trick. I was just depressed because I couldn't do what I wanted to without entirely too much pain. (And the main principal I had was a butt. Wanted me fired so he could hire his friend.)
  • I was told by my PT when I first started having cervical problems that sleeping on your stomach is very bad for your cervical spine and it isn't great for your lumbar spine either. Here are some links to back that up:






    I could post more links, but you get the picture.

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