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Sleeping 4 months after lumbar micro discectomy

SorbetSSorbet Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi. I had a lumbar micro discectomy on an l5 s1 four months ago. My recovery has been good. Some numbness in my foot which was there pre op is still there but other than that I am fairly pain free ...... Except for when I lie in bed for any length of time.

This is a reasonably recent phenomenen but when I wake up in the morning my back is so stiff. It loosens up when I walk around within 5-10 minutes but I'm just worried that I may be damaging my back whatever way I'm sleeping (mainly on my side with pillow between my knees).

As many people posting have said once you get through the op the support/advice seems to dry up. Would appreciate any advice in what I should do next, see a physiotherapist for example.

I haven't as yet begun Pilates (which my consultant recommended) and right now the only exercise I'm getting is walking.

All in all I'm not complaining as the op has been a great success, just don't want to go backwards.


  • I am 2+ years out and have had this issue for about 6 months. I finally realized after tracking my life in a journal that I needed help. I had an MRI and nothing out of he ordinary is wrong. I started seeing a physiatrist (muscular and skeletal doctor) and they are working a special PT with me. I lost lower mobility and have tight facet muscles. In addition, they are teaching me relative strengthening exercises for my hip/pelvic muscles. In addition, they are realizing now, after 6weeks of different things, that there is more for them to help me - learning how to do smal exercises so when I stand it isn't as bad. The in bed exercises hurt but it still is better than the pain when I stand. They are also teaching me how to sleep in other positions safely. This seems to be helping.

    I hope thi helps
  • I suggest you try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees.

    My lumbar microdiscectomy was in 2005 with a subsequent lumbar fusion from L4-S1 in 2009.

    Morning stiffness is very common with me. It usually takes 20-30 minutes to resolve itself. What I have found that is highly beneficial for me is exercise and classes in the warm water pool @ a local health club. I urge you to try exercising like that.

    Good luck with your stiffness.
  • Hi, exactly as DNICE stated but I am 2 months ahead of you SORBET. I was given bed exercises that got me from laying on my bed on the floor (my matress was on the floor for 4 months)to standing up over a period of 10mins initially and this was reduced weekly until I can now wake up in bed (now back on the bedstand) and stretch in 2-3mins and be up and about with limited hinderance. - I can just get up and be stiff for 5-10mins if I want (which I do on weekends).

    I was told the pillow sleeping is good in the early stages (and it worked for me) but as childish as it sounds its like a dummy for a 2yrs old. We get used to it and habit form for comfort. I hated this analagy coz the person saying it hadn't felt the pain-discomfort-fear of relapse. The way I got around it ultimately was relaxing. I had a period in the 3-4 month point where I din't sleep well coz I worried everything was reinjurying me, even when I wasn't awake (even the cusion if it slipped out). - I tried leg (only) massages to great benefit. The hamstring and back are well connected hence a bent leg relieves tension on the back. In fact I'm gonna stick my kneck out and say these for me proberly were how I slept as after them I did seem to get over a hill in my recovery. Month 4 I did improve and did find I'd not always sleep in a different position, but I would wake sometimes differently. I didn't always but I'd sometimes take a pill and stay in that position - I'm a head strong person and I like to think I've slept my life in various sleep positions so why shouldn't I continue (provided their not what I consider outside a common sleeping position)

    I hope this kinda helps SORBET and goodluck on your further recovery

  • I saw your post and this is the first time I have posted on this site. I had a lamectomy L5/S1 and a discetomy L4/L5 on 12/11/12. It has been 3 1/2 months. Post surgery the pain in my leg was gone. I stayed out of work for 8 weeks and walked a lot everyday. I started PT two weeks after the surgery and went two times a week for 7 weeks. I also did exercises every day. The feel way better than I did pre-op. I feel that I was conservative and did all the rehab.

    I have muscle tightness on the other side of my back. The tight/sore muscles are even about four inches above my incision. It is just weird how it is on the opposite side and higher up on my back. It really is only bad at night. I sleep ok but wake up when I roll over. It also bothers me if I sit at work for a long time. Movement and walking really help. I tried to get a deep tissue message last week. The therapist was really good and it did really help for a few days. She said I need to retrain the muscles and to come back every two weeks for a while. I will try it even though it gets a little expensive.

    I would like some feedback on anyone else who has had this issue. A friend of mine said it took her a year to feel completly normal again. I hope that is the case. I can wait it out. I just worry a little that if I am not proactive about it, I will be trading the sciatica for muscle soreness.

    Don't know if this helps but just wanted to let you know that I saw your post and am having similar issues.
  • Sleighty....YES! This is it.
    My MD failed the first time and I was SO careful after the revision per the advice of my surgeon for 3 months that I got into a routine.

    I saw the physiatrist and he said I did SUCH a great job of protecting my back that I lost mobility in my lower back. He & the PT said the exercises I learned were great but that I need more now. Why? post surgery, I learned how to regain core muscle strength and stability. But, still held the no bending, twisting, lifting mind set. This isn't bad BUT I am learning how to be strong when/if I'm doing this.

    I'm learning to relax under guidance of professionals.
    - learning how to safely roll/round my back to stretch the muscles
    -learning that I don't have to just sleep on my back with the pillow under my leg. I have to relearn how to sleep in other positions
    - teaching my muscles (hip, pelvis, glutes, hamstrings, etc.) how to relax.
    - balancing out some of those same muscles. I would have thought I was stronger in the right leg since my left is the one with numbness and prior problems. Turns out that it is actually weaker in the pelvic/hip muscle.
    - getting deep tissue massage by the PT (sometimes I was very afraid of b/c I thought relaxing the muscles would make me susceptible to re-injury).
    - getting stim machine (~TENS) to contract/relax the muscles.
    -started taking Fish oil (not sold on this yet but trying...took me a long time to find one that I could stomach) as a natural anti-inflammatory for chronic pain.

    So yep, overall, just learning that I'm at a 'safe' point and while I always have to be careful, there's a way to be careful without being overly protective.

    This week is the first time in the 8 weeks of PT that I'm seeing some improvement. Tomorrow is my 3rd appt with the physiatrist.
  • This is a general reply on the cod liver oil. Working with the physios near daily they always support cod liver oil for helping with post op healing.

    The biggy for them with people with longterm back injuries is vitamin D because the body rarely has enough and when injured a lot of people pre-op spend large amounts of time rested up, out of sunlight which gets the body those tiny levels of Vit D it needs for healthy growth and remodeling of bone.

    One the physios hate is glucosamine. Dr's sometimes bang on about it for creating healthy discs BUT if you have a rupture, bulge and take these then the glucosamine goes there to help rebuild BUT infact it gorges the disc increasing its mass and if you have a nerve compressed by that disc the pain can increase.

    This is only 2nd hand advice but I have been involved in trials with glucosamine on disc ruptures and patient reporting seems to fit the physio's rants about their concerns.
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