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Sleep probs post microdiscectomy

JennasisJJennasis Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hey gang. I am two weeks post surg for the microdiscectomy of L5-S1 (with transpedial decompression...whatever that means). The surgery was MASSIVELY successful. I was 95% pain free immediately upon waking from surgery and have had to use minimal pain meds post op. I now have just the sever numbness and occassional pressure in my right leg where there used to be excruciating pain.

My problem is that I can't sleep right. If I lay flat on my back, I m actually pretty comfortable...until I wake up an hour or two after falling asleep (or sometimes I'll last all the way until morning), with MAJOR aches in my my back and hips. The pain goes away if I get up and move around a bit.

If I take my vicodin or oxy before bedtime, FORGET falling asleep EVER. It keeps me up either itching like a crack addict or with my mind racing a million miles an hour.

I haven't managed to get 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep for almost a month (two weeks of solid agony before surgery) and then the mid-night discomfort after surgery.

I have found propping lots of pillows under my back so I'm almost sitting up and then putting two pillows under my knees helps a bit as far as staying reasonably pain free all night but it's nearly impossible to fall asleep that way.

Are these new sleep issues/pain normal? Will it ever get back to me being able to lay down and sleep like I used to? I used to sleep on my side but I am afraid to roll around or toss and turn after the surgery.


  • Hi there

    Have you tried sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs? I got huge relief fron the leg pains doing this. As far as I can figure out these pains are the nerve "waking up"I always found this to be much worse at night.

    Good luck with your recovery & don't over do it


  • Whew...so you're saying I am not alone? Not that I was hoping that others are sharing in my misery, but it is a relief to think that the discomfort is normal and nothing is messed up.

    To answer your question...YES. Sleeping on my side is usually a big relief (sometimes with and sometimes without the pillow between my legs). Is it okay to do that? Sleep on my side all night? I have always fallen asleep and spent most of my night on my left side, but since the surgery I have been afraid to lay on that side or do anything but lay flat on my back. I guess I am afraid of twisting in my sleep and messing things up. Especially since my surgeon thinks I actually may have herniated my disc in my sleep.
  • nope you're not alone :)

    I slept on my side the from the moment I got out of surgery, I just couldn;t lie on my back comfortably. Might be an Idea to give your surgeon a call & check thhough. Could you pack pillows around yourself to minimise movement?
  • Try Advil PM or Tylenol PM. They work great and most people don't get any side effect. I still take them occasionally 3 months out. For me just 1 pill does it.
  • Makes me hallucinate...but I do have Xanax. The trade-off is a super groggy morning BUT I guess it's not like I have anything to do each day. I'm out of work for a few more weeks. Luckily I work at home...unfortunately my line of work is riding and training horses and managing a 21 stall barn (50lb bags of feed and 75lb bales of hay...)
  • Sounds like you need to hire a teenager this summer to do the hauling for you.
  • Yup. Luckily my students have been super helpful, pitching in around the farm to help me out. And we do have a guy who works for us and has essentially taken over all of my work along with my husband.

    Note, I slept ALL night last night on my side without a problem (woke up once a little achey and just switched to my other side!).
  • Hi there,

    If you are sleeping on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees. But it is ok to sleep on your side. You just want to put a pillow between your knees to help keep your spine in alignment. If you are afraid of twisting, have someone place pillows behind your back so you can't roll backward too easily.

    As for sleep...have you told your doctor about the side effects? I did find that percaset can relax you but it can also make you unable to sleep. I have never taken Vicaden but I did have valium and found that was better to relax my muscles that were causing me pain.

    If you don't like that...ask your doctors if it is ok to take Tyelenol PM at night. You don't want to do this everynight but may not be a bad idea.

    As for sleep, it takes time to get solid sleep. I am 11 weeks post op of revision microD and can tell you I'm finally having decent night sleeps. I used to get maybe 2-4 hours before waking up stiff and hurting. I would have to get up and walk around the house a bit and then hope I could get back to sleep. Sleep will come....it just is so frustrating while you are recovering.

    Good luck
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