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Advice for a pillow for my neck problem please....

yellowboyyyellowboy Posts: 46
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I had an ACDF in 2009. I find that I often end up in a fetal position with my head bent down when sleeping which aggravates my pain. Is there a body pillow or other device that anyone has used which prevents one from bending the head down while sleeping ? Thanks


  • I sleep with 3 pillows. One under my head, one between my legs and a real big sturdy on tuck into my chest with the end up to my chin. It keeps me in place and keeps me from bending in my sleep.

  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I have a pillow that elevates my shoulders and neck up from the bed. Not by much but it does keep me from sleeping in a position that would cause pain.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hi yellowboy,
    I'm a little more than 3 years post-op of a major cervical spine rebuild and to
    this day the only way I can stay fairly comfortable is to sleep flat on my back with no pillow. I do wake up with some pain from the right backside of my skull but that is due to progressing failure of discs adjacent to the fusion.
    Over 30 years ago a D.O. that was treating me for lower back pain always strongly recommended to try sleep only on my back. Hope you find the best combination that works for you.
  • Thanks folks. I can't (never did) sleep on my back, but tried the extra one under the chin and it seems to be helping.
  • Soft cervical collar. They are pretty reasonably priced at the pharmacy.
  • Hi Yellow,

    I am a backie as well as a neckie. Curently I use one of those memory foam pillows for my head. It has the dip in the middle. Also, I just bought the memory foam pillow for between my legs, however, I'm not sure its any better than a thick pillow.

    Lastly, since I can only sleep on my sides, I have a log shaped pillow that I put my arm around. I think I might try one of those big body pillows and see if thats any better than what I am doing now.Like "C" said, if I hug it up close to the underside of my neck it gives some neck support.

    Like so many other things in life there is no right answer. What works for some of us would be terribly painful for others. Hope you find some comfort soon. Let us know how you are doing.

  • So true, you should see me at night. I have 8 pillows on the bed, 4 of which I use every night in order to just get comfortable. I have a couple of those log shaped ones that massage, but I don't turn it on, just use the one under my belly/side, and the other for my arm (like you) because I can't let my arm hang free, it needs to be kept even with my body otherwise my shoulder and neck hurts. I have a fairly good sleep plan/pattern, but I sleep on my one side all night long and when I wake up my ear is on fire. I sleep pretty good though so I can't complain.
  • I am having a ACDF 3 level surgery on Dec. 30th. I'm thinking of buying a wedge pillow and a whole body pillow to try out. I also have 3 extra pillows I could try.
  • I think that for each of us it's trial and error. There are good suggestions here, but what works for one may not work for another. You just have to see what works once you get home.

    For me, I was in my recliner post-op for two weeks without any pillows - my recliner is very cushy and plush and has an extra large imbedded pillow at the top where my head goes. That worked well for me.

    Once I was able to sleep in bed, I had a temperpedic pillow - it's wonderful and I don't need anything else. But then, I dont find myself in the fetal position, either.

    Good luck to you both in finding what works for you - you'll probably need to experiment for a day or two until you find what works, but something will.

  • I need a pillow that won't aggravate my neck as well, but I also have to keep my head elevated or I end up with a terrible stuff nose.

    Is there a way to do both?

  • Only joking :))( :))(

    I do find though, that it is very hard to get comfortable without taking up more than my fair share of the bed!!

    I had spinal fusion earlier this year and after that slept in the spare bed so I could use as many pillows as I needed. Now I use 1 pillow under my head, one between or under my knees depending on whether I am lying on my side or my back, and another pillow beside me to stop me rolling onto my tummy and to stop my head from curling down, which causes neck pain. I am using a small bolster pillow for beside me as that takes up less space in the bed.

    I still have to keep changing my position every couple of hours during the night as I wake up very stiff and sore. On a bad night, I now move to the spare bed so that I can use as many pillows as needed to get back to sleep.

    Sassy, have you tried a cervical pillow?

    Wishing everyone a good night's sleep!!!

  • These responses are so helpful. I am forever on the search for the perfect combination of pillows. I think I've finally gotten there with a mixture of 3. I'm trying to learn to sleep on my back at a good angle to help with breathing and take the pressure off of my neck but invariably, I end up on my right side.
    I know after my neck surgery a few years ago, I spent a lot of time propped up on the bed and literally made myself a "nest" in pillows and was quite comfortable. I felt like a princess and did the same thing after my SCS surgery last year.
    Jellyhall, I worried about my husband's reaction too, but as long as I didn't steal his pillows, and left enough room for him in bed, he was fine. Ha Ha!
  • I bought a memory foam pillow. It seems to be working for me. I can sleep on either side or on my back.

  • Post Deleted. Information is inappropriate for Spine-Health

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    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Administrator
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    pillow selection is very subjective, personal and its a trial/error process. I finally found one that I need all the time. When we travel, I generally just use a towel rolled up under my neck (unless I can travel with my pillow!)

    Here is some information that Spine-Health provides: Pillows

    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
  • someone had told me prior to my C surgery that I should purchase a "water pillow", well I ordered it on line. It is wonderful, in fact, when I go away, I empty it and bring it along with me. I fill mine with aprox 1 1/2 gallons of water. I didn't take it once, because I ddin't realize then what a difference it makes, it cradles my neck, and keeps it in a good position while I sleep.

  • Ilene,

    I'd not heard of the water pillow before. I just ordered one! Thanks for posting. I'll let you all know how it works out.
  • I had not heard of water pillows before either.
    They do sound like lots of people get relief from them.

    I am thinking of trying one. (My husband will love that - I am 'the pillow lady'!!)

    Can anyone advice which brand is the best?
  • jellyhall said:
    I had not heard of water pillows before either.
    They do sound like lots of people get relief from them.

    I am thinking of trying one. (My husband will love that - I am 'the pillow lady'!!)

    Can anyone advice which brand is the best?
    Same here! I have a lot of pillows--we keep trying to find some relief. And poor DH doesn't understand they have to be stacked in exactly the right order.
  • I have yet to be able to sleep in my bed since 2 level ACDF C5-6 C6-7 on 12/9/2010. every now and then I go back into the bed and try a different combination of pillows to no avail. I seem to be more comfortable and wake up without additional pain. Only problem is that if I am sleeping in the den on the recliner, my husband can't watch tv and I wake up if he goes in the kitchen or is noisy on the computer in the other room.I also do not get a full night sleep. This will definitely affect my ability to go back to work. Wish there was a clear cut solution.
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