Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

How do you get out of bed in the morning post-op????

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
OMG, getting out of bed after sleeping more than a few hours is unbelievably painful. Twice now, I've gotten up in the middle of the night and the pain in my lower back and the back of my legs is excruciating to the point that I can't walk and just cry. I try to get to the bathroom, but can't make it and have to yell out to hubby to come help me.

Of course, just rolling over in bed hurts, and after I've been up for a while it still hurts to sit from standing and stand from sitting, but the mornings are so bad I need to find a solution. I'm going to put a cane next to my bed, but that's only going to help me walk, not keep the pain from being so bad.

One of the thoughts I had: I've been able to sleep in my bed like I always did, with no extra pillow and not inclined at all, but I'm comfortable sleeping on either side. I think that since I normally bend my legs up a bit when I sleep like that, that when I finally get up the muscle spasms in the back of my legs are so bad because they're getting stretched after hours of being bent.

Could this be it? Should I sleep inclined instead of flat? Should I try and just sleep in my recliner?

I'm at my wits end with this morning crud. Has anybody been able to find a solution to this post-op problem?



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    most of this discomfort will be reduced and hopefully eliminated.
    But, during the first couple of weeks and perhaps month or two after lumbar surgery, every move (especially in bed) hurts.
    I found that sleeping in a recliner was easier. You could move around a bit easier without the stabbing pain.
    It will get better....
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Hi Cath,

    First, glad to hear that you're home and hope the recovery goes well. I'm mostly a side sleeper, post surgery, I found putting a pillow between my legs very helpful in minimizing the pains. I would use a bed pillow horrizontally, placing the middle at about knee level so it would extend up into the thigh area & down into the calf area. I actually used the headboard to help me log roll to either shift position or to get out of the bed, gave me something substantial to grab to make the moves. The other thing that may help is what I call "Gwennie's trick", but in bed instead of the floor. Lay flat in bed, bend knees, feet flat on mattress, arms near your sides, palms up and breathe slowly and relax for about 5-10 mins. I would stay away from a recliner, it's hard to get out of & really isn't recommended post lumbar fusion. Also, have you been given an RX for muscle relaxer, this may help especially if you can schedule a dose around bedtime.

    Hope this helps.

  • but, I have lots of cramps and spasms in my legs and lower back in the morning. I find that stretching out my legs and moving them before I try to get out of bed, reduces the spasms. I still get them while I am moving my legs, but at least I'm not trying to stand or walk them.
    For the lower back, I move it about a bit before getting out of bed. That may be more difficult after surgery.

    Hope you find a solution. If you do please let us all know. It will be useful for lots of others, I'm sure.
  • Do not even try to get into a recliner, let alone contemplate sleeping in it at this point in your recovery. It is not at all designed to support the spine in the appropriate ways after you've had lumbar surgery. You are much better off spending much of the day on a good mattress, using a variety of pillows to prop yourself when you require a change in position.

    You are very early in your recovery and the bottom line is that it just HURTS to change positions. As others suggested, try to get the blood flowing a bit before you try to get up. Pump your ankles to get the blood flowing. Gently, of course! Even wiggling your toes will help.

    Did you learn those isometric exercises in the hospital, hamstring setting and gluteal setting? You could do a few of those to get the blood flowing. It would be beneficial if you could change position during the time you are in bed. Put your knees up for a while, then try to position yourself with them down flatter, with a smaller, flat pillow under the knee for support. Try sleeping on your side with a small pillow between your knees.

    Are you taking pain meds? I wasn't that uncomfortable the first three weeks because I was so drugged up, I think!! @) I am a BIG believer in a satin bottom sheet. Just the other night I slept in a bed that had flannel sheets and I was wearing something flannel, and two years out from my fusion, it struck me how hard it was to roll over...how much energy it took, and how I never could have moved after my surgery with this combination of clothes and sheets!!

    Remember to spend most of your time resting and then taking short walks. In addition to no bending, twisting or lifting, remember to add reaching to the list. Do not reach overhead or to the side. (People sometimes forget about this one.)

    Sending healing thoughts your way -- hope they don't freeze on the way....


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    I do understand what everyone is saying about the recliner... Once you are in, you are in, and getting out is very hard.
    I went into the recliner early in the morning and basically stayed there for 24 hours a day
    The only times I got out was when nature called and then it was only with help.
    But overall, I was more comfortable in the recliner than I was in bed.
    Then again, thats why we are all individuals... What works for someone, might hurt another.
    Cath, as you know from being on this site, read what everyone has to say, digest it and then you decide what is the best for you.
    You know what is the right thing for you
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • After the first couple of weeks I spent several hours in the recliner. I was also more comfortable in them. We have 2 styles- I used the more supportive one.

    In bed I placed pillows under my legs and under either side of my back so my scar would not touch the bed. I would be locked into bed (if that makes sense) kind of a nest.

    Satin sheets or pj's and a cane will help getting out of bed. Log rolling of course.

    Plus I took my meds about 20 minutes before attempting to get out of bed to use the bathroom, shower, (pretty much any activity).

  • julie-good reminder about taking meds before getting out of bed,showering,going to dr----I need to remember that!
  • I wish I had some new fabulous idea to contribute, but like many here I slept in a recliner for the first few days, with a nice big chunk of memory foam right under my lumbar are for support. The first day or two home I had trouble getting myself out of it, but after being stuck in my recliner for about 6 hours because I had no one to help me out, I learned to scoot myself forward a little and luckily my arms are long enough that I could reach the handle. And between using my weight as leverage, my legs for a little push on the foot rest, and pulling the handle I was able to work it out so I could do it by myself.

    And though I never had trouble with spasms post-op,
    I did have a hard time sleeping on my side because my hips and thighs were sore from being manhandled during surgery, and of course laying on my back wasn't any fun...until I got another nice chunk of memory foam for beneath my surgery site.

    The other thing that helped me a ton was taking the time to roll onto my back for a sec before I log rolled out of bed, and stretched my legs a bit before getting up. And pillows in the right place, like Gwennie suggested, also helped.

    Don't know how much help any of that is, but I sure hope you find something(s) that work for you!
  • I feel your pain! I remember it so vividly. I know everyone is different and every dr has a different opinion too so do what your dr tells you and take my advice as just another spiney that can relate. I had L2/3/4 fusion.... here is what my dr told me and what I did:

    My dr. told me to lay flat with just one pillow under my head, no propping up at all as it puts pressure on the spine where you want it to heal properly. Also, not to lay on my sides at first, not even with a pillow between legs (later I could do that but honestly it still hurts if I sleep like that too long) but to lay flat with a pillow under your legs where it feels best for the first few weeks. Because of the pillow under my legs and stiffness/pain I did need help out of bed for the first 2 weeks. I called my husband for help. I would log roll over then use my arm to help me lift up like Saltsworks describes, do as she says or put something sturdy next to the bed to help you get up(they do make bed bars to fit between mattress too)....once sitting up take time to rest before standing, use your walker to get up and walk at first, you can ditch it along the way if you don't need it! But the 1st week-10 days my husband even had to help me log roll and up sometimes. This might seem odd to some...but I would have my husband put a pillow on each side of me to prop my arms on sometimes, and it took different sizes at different times (I couldn't have enough pillows and still have 6 on the bed to pick from!LOL!) Try a small pillow under your arms, oh yea, I wasn't suppose to put my arms up under my head, raise them up, which I like to do so maybe that is why the pillows under my arms helped me too.

    I know we need sleep to heal and you are lucky if you are able to sleep longer than 2 hours at a time. But truthfully, I think another thing that helped me was that I woke up every 2 hours and got up during the night.....even if I didn't potty(but being an old female that was rare! LOL)and walk with or without my walker around the house for awhile. Of course, I had to wake my poor husband at first but he didn't mind because he made sure I was up safely, got my meds, fresh water bedside, etc. Soon enough you will be better...remember to follow your advice, and listen to your body and that this major surgery takes time and patience. Patience is key word with lumbar fusions for sure!!!

    Also, my dr said no recliner and never sit in any chair that your feet weren't touching flat on the floor, make sure the chair is padded/comfortable and
    DO NOT SIT more than 10 minutes at a time and not often...bathroom and to eat should be the only time you sit until he tells you longer. Oh yea, don't try to stretch or arch your back at all and no straight leg lifts, keep feet flat on bed if you bend your legs at knees like Gwennie says, she always has good advice for us all.

    I know this is long, sorry, but hope it helps. I know everyone and all drs have their own advice and opinion so please take my advice as helpful hints from a fellow lumbar spiney, use some of the helpful hints all our other spineys mentioned as some have alot more experience than me, but please call your dr or his nurse and ask them first! Remember, Cath, this takes alot of time and patience, you have helped so many on here,so take your own advice and you will be better in no time!

    Since you had the leg pain with your nerves it will take time for them to heal. Some days you will have more pain and some days less as they heal and yes, walking did hurt but I forced myself. I cried alot too, so cry if you need to! I remember crying, anger, sadness, and all....it's partly from pain and being discouraged we can't get up and do things like we want but it's alos that post op low from pain,meds, anesthetic, etc.....keep your head up, Cath! You are doing well considering you are not even a week post op!


  • And see Gwennie mentioned not to reach overhead too...sorry I repeated things. That means help with your hair in the shower and not reaching in closets or cabinets too! I wasn't suppose to lean forward, push or pull, along with no BLT and I'm short so that might be why the dr did not want me in a recliner at all. Who knows?
  • I always logroll and that's not a problem. Yes, it hurts, but it's better now than the first time I did it.

    I haven't been able to establish a comfortable situation on the couch, as logrolling is impossible due to the depth of the cushions. I've tried this a couple of ways that haven't worked yet, and hubby and I are going to try the new wedge pillow on the couch to see if that helps me be able to lay there. I need to stay downstairs during the day because my home nurse (MIL) is almost 80 and although very spry, she does have difficulty with stairs, especially if it's multiple times during the day.

    I'll work on the blood flow thing and see if I can get this under control. I'm really glad that I've found a way to be comfortable in my recliner. It's really the most convenient for everyone - it took a while to figure it out, but now it's perfect.

    Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds like if someone could patent a way to get out of bed after a posterior lumbar surgery that could make you rich. Those dang muscle spasms are just killer - and my doc even warned me that those would probably be the worst of it for the longest amount of time.

    As for my recliner - I found out very eary a comfortable way for me to be in it and get out of it. I put two pillows behind my back and that brings me forward enough to be able to sit with my feet hitting the floor. It also makes reclining easy because I can't recline all the way (no leverage with such a small seated area) so my legs get elevated just a bit. This is a very comfortable position for me. I do get up and stretch each hour, well at least as much as one can stretch 5 days post op wearing a brace.

    PFD, I tried the "Gwennie Method" this morning and it helped just a bit, not a lot. I thought if I moved onto my back and straightened my legs for a bit then bent them for a bit it might help get those muscles moving and not hurt so much once I got up to walk.

    I do take meds for spasms and pain, of course. Hubby and I decided that in addition to me taking them before bed, we'd set the alarm for 2am and then I'd take them again. I did that last night and obviously it didn't help much today.

    Have you ever gotten a severe sunburn on your legs that's so bad that in the morning when you wake up and swing your legs over the edge, all the blood flows to your legs and creates awful pain and you have to put your legs back in bed and slowly acclimate them down to slow down the blood flow to them? This is kind of what I feel like in the morning.
  • My 2 level PLIF was a few years ago, but I do recall sleeping on my back (which suprised me) with a very thick sheep's-wool type of material under me for comfort. For the first 2 weeks or so Dr. had me on Oxycontin and a muscle relaxer, had a big pillow under my knees, and slept like the dead. At first Hubby helped me get out of bed, I stayed in the guest room pull-out couch, my little nest and rest room for a bit.

    Little by little it gets easier and one day you may get out of bed without even thinking how to move. I've been that way for about 3 weeks now (ALIF was 11-18-09) but my surgery was one of the "easier" ones. With my 2 level PLIF it did take longer, but we know it takes time and patience.

    Good luck with your recovery, Lisa
  • I remember exactly what you are going through. I would suggest calling a medical rental place and getting a rail that slips in the mattress for the bed. Maybe you can rent one, but I have a hospital bed and after a year, I still use it on one side. I just gives you something to grab onto, especially when you want to roll on side.
    Also use your walker to get up and down out of bed and chair. It really helps, I used it alot, and even though it made me feel 80, I couldnt imagine not having it.
    Br careful in the recliner. You dont want to twist to reach the handle. Maybe a rollway bed would be a better solution than the sofa if it is too soft. That way you can have it set up in Living or family room where everyone else is.
    Sounds like you are doing ok. Stretch the hamsting muscles in bed so they dont get to tight on you. I just straighend out my foot back and forth. Good Luck and I will be watching to see how you are doing. Get plenty of rest and take lots of little walks. Its amazing how much they help. Love, Robin
  • Right now I have a fractured T12 Vertebra, but this also helped with my daughters fusions. When I first injured my back I would lay there in the mornings and cry for my hubby to come help me get up and go to the bathroom. What we did is have a little night table right at my face level next to the bed, and as soon as I woke up my pain pills (laying by themselves not in the bottle) would be on the table with a glass of water & ice. I would take the pills even before I would try to move anything and give them a bit to work, and then try to get to a sitting position. Honestly, at first we would set the alarm for when I had an idea I would be waking up. With me I have a Hiatal hernia so we had to make sure I had part of a breakfast bar sitting there also. :)
    I hope you are able to use some of every ones suggestions. Do what works for you.
  • Good info about the recliner!

    I just learned how using a recliner slows down healing because the discs get their nutrients from the overflow of the vertebrae and tissues around them not a direct line of nutrients. Laying down on the bed allows the flow to the discs. Sitting in a recliner doesn't allow that to happen. Sitting is the toughest position for us anyway. I'm glad now that I didn't have a recliner.
  • All I had at the house that we could find to help me last night was a crutch. We have a cane, but my hubby left it at work so I won't have it until tonight. The crutch helped a little bit (by putting it in front of me, putting both hands on the armpit ledge and moving one leg at a time), but it was still a very slow process.

    The pain today has surpassed any post-op pain so far and has risen to an unnerving level - I can't seem to walk alone at all so far. I have constant muscle spasms along my back right side, my entire back feels like it's been hit by a baseball bat, my hips are killing me, and it's impossible to wear my brace (it has felt good up until now). Just holding a bowl of cereal in my left hand this morning caused the spasms to escalate in the back of my right leg.

    I don't want to discourage anyone from having this surgery because I still believe it will be a success when all is said and done, but the pain that goes along with this recovery is more difficult than I would have imagined. When my surgeon's PA told me this was going to be tough, even compared to my ACDF, I believed him to a point. Ignorantly, I thought he was painting a bleak picture so that when I saw my recovery wasn't too bad, I would have been prepared for it to be more difficult and happy that it was going well.

    Turns out the picture he painted was indeed correct, if not a little understated. I'm going with the mindset that it'll get worse before it gets better and I'm only 6 days out from the surgery. I'm at my max pain and muscle relaxant meds and I'm too scared to try and get up because I feel like I'll either scream because of the pain or fall because of the meds.

    It doesn't help that my hubby and I had a fight last night and mentally I'm not sure he's going to be able to make it with me through the long haul. This latest surgery is taking its toll on my body, mental health, motivation, movement, optimism and marriage.

    Sorry to be venting here, this wasn't my intent when I initially started this post. I'm just having a very difficult time dealing with what this is doing to every aspect of my life. Nuff said.

    Hope everyone is well today.
  • I am sorry you are having so much pain. I think you need to contact your surgeon and let him know what is happening. They should be able to get you something for the spasms and pain that will do a better job in handling it for you. I know where you are, I have been there. It is a tough road, but it will get better. Just try to rest and walk when you can. I know it hurts, but it also helps.
    Look into a walker, as it helps alot to get up out of bed. Call your local public health dept if you dont have anyone to get you one. They can be a valuable resourse for you. Take care honey, Love Robin PS Vent away to me, pm me if it helps, I really care!
  • Thanks. I have an appointment with my surgeon this Friday so I'll wait and talk to him then. Luckily, I have every muscle relaxer known to man - Soma, Robaxin, Skelaxin, Flexiril and Valium. Flexiril has been my main MR over the last year, but I'm taking some of the stronger ones with these new major spasms. I was given the Soma after my ACDF surgery and only took a couple, so I have plenty of those and the Valium is a new prescription so I haven't taken many of those either.

    I think I need to find The Blend that's going to help me most. I'm working on that today.

    I've been told quite a few times in the last couple of days by back surgery veterans that I should get a walker and I can definitely see the value, but for some stupid reason, my MIL and hubby think that I don't need one. Since they're the only ones who can get one for me, I'm giving up on asking.

    Geez, doncha just love days like these?

    Man, I'm such a Debbie Downer today that I'd better stop posting and just read.
  • Heres a thought. When you go for your appointment, have you Dr write a script for one. Or ask about getting one. That way, they will know that it is necesarry, Hope you get to feeling better. I wish I could be there for you, I would give you some old fashioned gentle hug therapy. Keep your chin up,it will get better. Love, Robin

  • I'm so sorry that your pain level isn't being controlled by your medication. See how you go, but perhaps you should contact your surgeon. He may be able to advise you of a way to make the next couple of days until you see him, more comfortable.

    Vent away; there are lots of people here who really care and feel for you. It's a shame, like Robin said, that we can't help you more and give you a very gentle hug. But we are here rooting for you Cath and supporting you across the airwaves. I really hope that you have a good night's sleep and that things feel better tomorrow.
  • Thank you Robin. I feel like you are here with me and it makes me feel better. Like I'd said, it's been very difficult getting out of bed first thing in the morning, but the last two days, once I was up for a bit I seemed to get better. Not today. After my MIL saw that I wasn't improving over the course of the morning, she got on the phone to a couple of her friends and found one who has a walker that she can borrow. She just left to go get it. One problem down.

    And thanks to you, Jellyhall. Your kind words put a smile on my face. I was about to say that I'll wait and see how I am tomorrow and if I'm not better, I'd call my surgeon's PA. Then I realized that that's stupid so I just left him a message to call me. I'm hoping he can tell me what my best med mix might be to help and I also now think I have a bladder infection as it stings/hurts to urinate.

    Thanks for your help and ears, my friends. This is the part that's really difficult to handle alone and I don't know what I'd do without you guys. Your cyber hugs were felt and appreciated.

  • You are logrolling out of bed aren't you?

    I found that wearing slick silky PJ's helps me move a bit and also - I have a high bed (about hip height) I logroll to the edge, then let my legs drop down off the bed a bit.

    Once I've got my footing and am laying on my side, I push up with my arms, pu the top arm in front of you, and push yourself up with it while gently getting your bottom arm under you to where you can use it to. Slowly push up so that you are basically sitting on the bed.

    I am on day 5 and it's been getting easier each day. A LOT easier.

    Word of caution - I sat in the lazyboy recliner yesterday - It was IMPOSSIBLE to get out of!!! Seriously it would have been a great laugh watching me if it didn't hurt so bad. I had to roll out over the arm of the chair -the whole time it was trying to fold on me - I am grateful the arms aren't deep on it.
  • I'm glad you are getting the walker. My NS insisted that he write a script for one on my fusion. He felt that canes were VERY bad after back surgery - increasing problems.

    You have to remember how early out you still are. I was still in the hospital at your point. I was still getting daily care and having nurses come in and help me just roll over. It does not help if it looks like you've got a bladder infection on top of it all too!

    I relate to the hubby issue - my DH and I argued the day after I got home this time too. I think the stress is impossible to control - on both our parts and it all just comes tumbling out. The timing really sucks, but I think it's natural. Don't make any big decisions for these first three months, you will not be yourself for even up to a year.

    I hope you get that magic mix soon - keep posting, we're here...
  • So glad you are getting your walker. It will help you getting up so much, and maybe keep you from straining, which is probably making things worse. I am also glad you called your surgeon. They need to know when you are not getting enough releif. Gosh this fusion thing is hard enough to go through, you dont need to not have the right meds to help you through it.
    I had my 18 month old granddaughter this past weekend stay with us. She is a joy and helps my spirit, but after taking her home, I am really hurting and have spent the day resting and trying to get my pain under control. I will have a pain dr appt on Jan 25, so hopefully I will get something that will work better.
    I hope you can rest tonight and have a better day tommorow. Feel free to vent. We all have to, to keep sane... Love, Robin
  • vent away my dear,and join me for the Official TexasCowgirl Mini-Meltdown---we are here for you

  • Hi Cath,

    So sorry to hear that the pain & spasming continues, hope that you find a resolution very soon. I was sent home w/ similar meds as you along with fentanyl patches (25 mcg changed every 3rd day), this combo worked well on controlling the pain & spasms. My OSS feels the fentanyl helps the other meds since it's slow release & may cover 'gaps' when you're coming due for a dose on any of the above.

    You've been so supportive to many of us here, please let us know how you're doing & know we're thinking of you.

    Gentle hugs,
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I've found that I develop a tolerance to muscle relaxers and have had to change from flexeril to soma. Now that has worked but I'm hoping for a different one post surgically that will be "new" to my system.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • After realizing the bed I was going to be using post-op was starting to sink in the middle, we went out to find a new one. Not sure if I can mention the store, so we will call it the "Aspen Matress Factory".

    After doing the log roll out of about 10 beds, I realized the firmest one was best for that, but the soft/firm was most comfy to lay on.

    The salesman saw what I was doing at that point, and led us to the promise land. "Ergomotion" is what it was called. It basically turns a regular queen matress into a hospital bed. It has a setting called "Zero Gravity" that lifts your head/feet just enough that you feel the pressure leave your lower back.

    On top of that, it has a built in massager. WIN, WIN!! We pick it up Friday night, and I am excited. It was so easy to get out of after doing the proper incline, decline.

    Did I mention it was only $1500 (with the matress I wanted) after taxes, and we got 4 years same as cash financing?????????
  • jason,I am glad you got the bed that will help you---years ago my husband hurt his back and had a similar bed,and it was great--he is a large man,so the support was great---best of luck to you---keep us posted!
Sign In or Register to comment.