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sleeping after lumbar fusion

hotrod478hhotrod478 Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I had a lumbar fusion l5 where they used rods and bionic growth hormone instead of bone. The spinal stenosis was also clamped this surgery was five days ago thursday. Well every since my surgery I have not ben able to get in a comfortable position to sleep period when I try to lay flat on my back it feels like there is a board sitting right in the middle of my back which makes it impossible to lay that way feels like it actually has me picked up off the bed then if I lay on my side I can take enough medicine to go to sleep but after only 2 to 3 hours I wake up in so much pain in my hips groin legs and back area I can't stand to lay there and its a act of congress to just try and get up I have tried all positions except stomach have jacked the bed up and have stacked pillows and blanket in every position from head to toe sorry for the ramble but its late and laying here in extreme pain if anybody has any advice please share .I am young guy at the age of 27 never had any medical problems until a back injury so thought that would be to my advantage but apparently I was wrong


  • Hi, I'm sorry that you are in so much pain. I am 6 weeks post op anterior fusion with a cage an graft., but have had two posterior open laminectomy/disectomys prior, so I know your pain. You are still very early after surgery. I was like you 5 weeks ago, I had to take loads of pain medication just to get to sleep then no word of a lie woke every hour in agony. All I can say is hopefully it will get better. For example it is 1:30am in the morning here(I'm in Australia) I have been asleep since 8:30 pm, I have only woken now to take more pain medication. what sort of bed do you have? My surgeon told me not to lay flat on my back but instead to place two pillows under my knees. I soul often with this surgery lay on my side and have one pillow between my knees and another behind my back to form a cocoon like situation. I was wondering do you need to increase your Pain medication? The first few weeks for sleeping were awful, but have improved so much. I hope that this is the case for you. I wish you all the best for a speedy minimal pain recovery. Liz :)))
  • I went to bed, bath and beyond and bought a down featherbed that I have been using for years. It goes under the fitted sheet and when I was at the hospital, had my son go out to bb& b and also bought an egg-crate foam thing. Brought both to hospital because I thought their bed hurt me so much. Since I am home, I have been using the 2 items and love them.
    With time the pain will get better, I like king pillows behind my back when I am laying on my side because it provides support.

    Hope that helps you out!
  • Hi and Welcome to Spine Health!

    I have had 3 lumbar fusions, fused L1-S1. I find the best thing for sleeping is either 2 pillows under my knees or a foam wedge. I actually went for the wedge as it holds its shape better than the pillows. I even put the pillows on top of the wedge. It takes the stress off the back.

    I can't sleep on my side but they say you need a pillow in between your legs if you do.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • I am about 3 weeks Post-Op. I had similar problems sleeping. It did feel like there was a board under my lower back, when I tried to lie down. All of this only lasted 2 weeks. I no longer have pain in my back. I am back to my complete range of motion. For the fist week the only position you can stay in is in a chair or laying on your back. Because the implants need to stabalize (which will hurt like hell.)I found that going for short walks or staying in a standing position helped the pain alot. If you are in severe pain let the Dr. know it. There are meds they can give you that will help the pain. I had to be on regimine of pain pills and muscle relaxers every 2 hrs for the first 2 weeks. Only use the meds until the pain is controlled. The pain is coming from your muscles being moved out of the way to get to your spine. Once the muscles realize they are no longer being assaulted the pain will be gone. There will be minor discomfort from the incisions. I also found that frequently changing positions helps. Moving helps so that your muscles don't get stiff.
  • Hi everyone
    I am laying here in bed reading your posts and feeling now that I am not alone in this. I am still very sore but am amazed that the debilitating sciatica pain I was suffering pre op has gone and so has the numbness in my left foot. I only have minor numbness in my left shin but I hope this will go eventually. I feel my surgeon has performed a miracle on me because I suffered with this pain for over 7.5 years. I do not regret my surgery because it was the only choice I had, I tried all other avenues but nothing worked. I feel very positive about the future for me but on the other hand I know my back will never be like it was before I had the accident that caused my problems. I wish you all the best and will remember you all in my prayers.
    From Lynette ( Western Australia) >:D<

    Spinal stenosis, disc herniation , degenarative disease
  • Hi me again

    My surgery was August 25th 2011 so I am 4 weeks post op. Does or did else else still have problems with sitting this time after surgery ?? I find sitting excruciating.
    Thank you so much
    From Lynette ( western Australia )
  • I have had 3 fusions and still find it hard to sit. I think that goes with the territory. I find movement is best for me. I am almost 6 months post op from my most recent and can't sit for any length of time.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Hi Jani,
    Many thanks for replying. I try and move as much as I can but I seem to spend more time in bed and I am wondering if this is normal this time post op ? My surgeon lives over 400 kilometers from where I live . That is why I got on the net and found this wonderful site. I do hope a miracle happens and I can tolerate sitting in 12 months time at least. I do lots of short distant walks everyday and hopefully will be starting hydro soon if the physio gives me the ok. I saw him 2 days ago and he says my op site needs to heal a bit more before I go into a pool. I am trying so hard to be positive . I have seen so many stories of people saying they wish they didn't have the op and some say they feel worse or the same. Unfortunately my back issues were very severe and were crippling me. So I am staying positive and will give myself a year to 18 months to expect a big improvement . To feel my left foot and leg again is a massive positive sign for me and I also have an excellent surgeon who is very highly respected . I wish you well and will remember you in my prayers...Take care

    From Lynette
  • i am 3 weeks in recovery! I seemed to be doing very well. Am walking mostly unassisted except in the morning I am very unstable .my question is I thought I was doing very well and now it seems like I am back to my pain medicine oxycodone,lyraca,and Tylenol every 4 hours again. I have heard when they close up incision you are pumped up with steroids and pain killers? Are those wearing off? I am only walking until my appointment on December 7th. I seem to be feeling like maybe I am starting to feel my hard ware in back . Everyone says it looks fine. Also sore and stiff in leg joints and get real tight in upper back and slight calf cramps. Really thought I was doing well and just kinda feel like I am regressing a bit ?should I be doing any physical therapy or just recouping right now! Just feeling frustrated because I thought I was doing really well! Don't like taking melds every 4 hours again or is this just the long healing process?doctor also cut back on my valium ,hardly taking it! Sorry for the long post .Im not depressed but do have crying jags sometimes in the morning,just feeling frustrated.Cant wait for a pill free life
  • Hello, I am 4 weeks post Opp from an Alif L5S1. At about 3 weeks I started noticing my back was hurting more and more. Especially when I tried turning in bed. I too thought I was doing good and now feel like I'm regressing. I get all sorts of weird pains near where the hardware is and around my tailbone. My nurse claims it is all normal and told me to just keep taking my pain killers on time. Hopefully I will feel when I make a turn around so get some hope that I am healing!
  • anyone else at the 3-4 week mark for spinal fusion and laminectomy and feel like they are regressing?when will I turn that corner? I really feel that I am doing better than most but how can these doctors really expect you to function at 3 weeks ,and cut back on pain Meds?i tried cooking dinner for family and felt horrible after. No twisting ,bending is a real killer ! 3 months?????i wear my brace faithfully.i have my fears as I am a flight attendant and have a very strenuous job and on feet for long hours! My surgeon said off work for 4 months and my family doctor said 6 months for sure . What's the truth????i have had shoulder surgery and I do have to say that was worse!! Off work for 10 months for that. I'm gonna be the bionic woman! Lol
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 724
    I've had 2 lumbar fusion surgeries... both in the L4-L5-S1 area. After the first surgery it was 12 months before I felt 100% back to normal... and I didn't have to take any pain meds beyond the first 3 days. For my second surgery I'm now at 10 months and progressing ok but certainly not 100% yet. On this second surgery I had to take Oxicodone for the first 4 months after surgery due to extreme sciatic pain down my right leg and foot. As per my doctor he said it took that long for the swelling to go down in my spinal column nerves. Why so much difference between the two surgeries... I have no clue... go figure. Either way the recovery on fusion is a long road... especially if you're beyond the prime years like I am. Hang in there... be patient... 3 weeks is nothing... bones grow VERY slowly.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • aussiesheilla said:
    Hi me again

    My surgery was August 25th 2011 so I am 4 weeks post op. Does or did else else still have problems with sitting this time after surgery ?? I find sitting excruciating.
    Thank you so much
    From Lynette ( western Australia )
    Sitting for more than half an hour at a time was virtually impossible before my surgery (L5-S1 ALIF). Now, 2 months post-procedure, I can at least tolerate sitting for an hour at a time, although the best scenario is a combination of sitting, standing (I'm fortunate enough to have an adjustable desk at work), and moving around. So when I wander around the hallways aimlessly, I'm under doctor's orders! Seriously, the surgery was crucial to making a very unnatural position for humans (sitting down) seem a little more natural.
  • Ok all. Just to touch base I have had my surgery done L5-S1 spinal fusion with GILL/laminectomy etc etc and I am doing great. I had surgery on Monday 23 Nov and didn't use my morphine pump at all..Yeah me. I was out of ed Tuesday walking around even tho I hurt a little. I since then have come leaps and bounds and I am home. I actually went and did a 6hr walk with the family on thanks giving and I did really ok. Doctor was fabulous, have lots of pain meds but im not taking any of them as I feel pretty good. My back is black and bruised but it is to be expected. I have days where I am feeling hopeless and relize I cant do what it is I am trying to do. I can say I am glad I did what I did and glad I stuck to my choice. I am 5 days post op and feel fabulous.
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 487
    So great that you're doing better! I'm sure you're appreciating every moment, but still, I must remind you of trying to do too much too soon. Even though you feel terrific, you did just have a major surgery, though not a transplant. You're not good as new, you'll have to adjust your activities accordingly, or you may find yourself back in line for another "fix".
  • My surgery was 6 days ago and yesterday I began noticing the same pre-surgical nerve pain in my right arm,, where it had been in the left. I was so worried I had overdone it and messed up the surgeon's repairs but thankfully his PA called to check on me today and explained that 5-10 days post-op is when inflammation peaks and it's normal to feel new pain in new areas. I hadn't taken any pain meds for two days but I'm going to start back on them now. My second day post-op was awful with a swollen painful throat (they went in from the front) and could not swallow water without pain. I asked for a round of steroids and they gave me a Medrol Dose Pack. By the next morning my throat (also central chest and back pain) resolved. I am eating real food today. I have also noticed muscle spasms in my upper back so have restarted the muscle relaxers. I came to this site to find out if it's normal to be weepy after this type of surgery and I did find posts on one of the other forums on here that several people have been overly emotional following their surgeries. It's helpful to know that I'm not alone.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
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    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi I just had a L4L5 hemilaminotomy discectomy on Wednesday. I know there is going to be a lot of pain .iam finding it hard to sleep can't find a comfortable position cause it Hurst also can't really sit for to long plus when i try to get up its a pulling pain on back .the site can't reopen from me sitting up or trying to get out of bed can it? Dr said they want me to get up and walk around but didn't say how soon .when is to early .I don't want to have any problems with my back because I started walking and doing things to early .any help or your experiences with this type of surgery would be appreciated
  • I'm 5 weeks post-op and my sleep issues are worse now than ever before the surgery. I weaned off Tramadol and am finally over the withdrawal nausea and such. I'm still on Neurontin 1X a day (at night) and 1000 mg Robaxin for muscle spasms at night. However, I can't get more than 2-3 hrs of sleep, at best. I can't get comfortable in any position, even though I'm not in any real pain.

    I have seriously restless legs now, which I didn't have before the surgery. My big toes feel hot and sting if the sheets touch them, but not if nothing touches them. My heels ache while resting on the mattress and the outside of my right ankle/leg feels like its going to cramp or spasm. It seems to be getting worse rather than better (it was all gone immediately after the surgery) and it's really just when I'm trying to go to sleep. I'm seriously sleep deprived now and I'm sure it's not conducive to proper healing.

    All this 'discomfort' seems to be the root caused my insomnia. Has anyone used a TENS unit to block the nerve signals for the restless leg & stinging/burning? My surgeon said it's OK to use the TENS for muscle spasms but I was wondering if anyone has used it for the other symptoms?
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 724
    You should walk as much as you can tolerate everyday... even if it's just small distance with the aid of a walker if needed. My doctor had me up the day after surgery and told me to walk 3 times a day... everyday. Discomfort from sitting is a common issue after back surgery... try an easy chair if that helps. It's not likely your surgical site will reopen with simple body movements like getting out of bed. Get your body in motion... it will help your healing process.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Thanks I have been walking today it actually feels better when I'm not sitting or laying down but I know I can't walk all night so I have been sitting for 5 mins then walking as much as I can tolerate I just keep telling myself it will get better I can take bandage off tomorrow so that might help also cause the tape is pulling at my skin
  • AMWoodyAMWoody SurreyPosts: 97
    I too had severe restless legs and for me that was due to coming off of meds. It lasted 2 months and was very depressing. I had it in my arms too. I looked everywhere on the net at the time for help.. I felt like I was going mad and would lay there all night long. Full on insomnia. It does pass so just go with it......
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I am closing it.
    You can search for articles on this subject or I suggest you create a new discussion

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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