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ACDF recovery: recliner or adjustable bed or bed wedge?

I'm having ACDF surgery in October. Looking to get everything I need in place before then. I am wondering if I should get a recliner since I'm seeing so many people post about how much they help. I already have a couch that reclines on both sides but it isn't super comfortable. Maybe I could get by with it if I put some pillows on my side to help support the part away from the armrest. If it would make me significant more comfortable though I would buy an actual recliner before the surgery . looking for advice.

Second option would be to get an adjustable bed. (ie. Tempurpedic or Bobopedic.) Or is a bed wedge just as good?

My surgery is single level c5/c6 if it makes a difference.

All advice appreciated. Thank you.
C5/6 herniation, type 2 diabetes, generalized anxiety disorder


  • I had a posterior fusion on my C4-C7 on July 29th, 2014. I got my recliner about a week before my surgery, and I am so glad that I did! For the first 2 weeks after the surgery, I could not get comfortable in bed, especially with my hard collar on. Every single way hurt. I tried my back, my side with tons of pillows and with laying flat and nothing worked. But I was able to sleep much better while in my recliner. Even now, almost 6 weeks post-op, when my muscles hurt or when I am in any pain, I get into my recliner and it goes away. I would definitely recommend a good comfy fluffy recliner, but not one that pushes your neck forward. I made sure my neck was going to be in it's normal position before I bought it.
    I hope that helps, and good luck!
  • Without my recliner. My husband and I bought a recliner a month ago and I'm not two weeks post-OP from a four level (C3-C7) ACDF and iliac crest bone graft. I tried to sleep in our bed the first few nights after I got home (two nights in the hospital) but it was horrible. I would wake up and feel stuck - felt like a turtle on its back. This would cause panic attacks because moving or sitting up was SO hard to do.

    I started sleeping in my recliner at night and oh my gosh, what a difference. We bought an electric recliner so all I need to do is push a button. I'll try the bed again in about another week or so to see how it goes. Beds allow too much area for movement and such, and if it doesn't work, I'll go back to sleeping in my recliner for another few weeks.

    It doesn't help that I wake up around 3am every morning in excruciating pain. With the recliner I can push a button and reach over to grab my pills and I go back to sleep about 15 minutes later.

    And I also bought a couple of grabbers. If you have an FSA card the grabbers can be purchased with the card and they help out too.

    Comfort is paramount. Make sure it's very comfortable and you don't need a brand name recliner for comfort.

    I put a sheet on it every night and use several pillows to support my neck and sleep right under the AC vent to keep nice and cool.

    If your couch recliner isn't very comfy now, it will be worse during your recovery.

    Good luck with your surgery! The same day all of the numbness and tingling in my arm and hand went away. My neck gets sore but the real issue right now is in my pelvic bone. Some say they don't experience any pain when the dr uses your own bone and marrow. I haven't been that lucky. But I'm so glad I did the surgery. I just couldn't go on another day the way things were.

    I considered buying a tray table like they have at the hospital, but decided against it since I have an end table right next to me,

    So far the most important thing I've had to come to terms with is fatigue. It's a major surgery and you're going to be tired. Listen to your body and rest.
    4 level ACDF, C3-C7 with iliac bone crest graft with hardware on August 22nd.
  • I had ACDF on May 16th. We have an adjustable bed, which was a lifesaver for me. If you can afford it, the bed is not only adjustable, but you can change the firmness. I wouldn't have been able to sleep without our Sleep Number Bed! Thank God we had bought one a couple of years before my surgery. I went through four difficult years with tingling, numbness, breathing issues, weakness, and pain. Our bed helped me put off my procedure along with: acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractors, and exercise.
    Recovery is slow. I'm four months out, and I'm still dealing with setbacks. Please let me know how you are doing after your surgery. Good luck and I pray all goes well.
  • Hi Newsgirl!

    I'm 41 and had my C5/C6 on August 14th (so about 3 1/2 weeks ago) with an autograft from my ileal crest bone. I didn't buy anything special for my post-surgery recovery, but in retrospect, could have used a bed wedge. Because I didn't have one, I arranged 4 pillows to create a "synthetic" bed wedge. For me, the challenge was getting out of bed if I was laying flat. I would roll over to my side and then try to push myself up. Getting up from a flat position seemed to put some strain on my neck on the way up (I did have a hard brace on though). Soon after figuring out that laying flat wasn't the best strategy, I devised my stacked pillows set-up. After I did that, it was much easier to get up out of bed. The strain on the neck was significantly less.

    During the week after the surgery, I got tired really easily. I was taking naps ever 2-3 hours. I'm 41 and in ok shape (I don't explicitly work out), but the combination of the residual effects if the anesthesia and the energy my body used for healing just wiped me out. However, after 1 1/2 weeks, I was back to work (I have a desk job). I would get tired out after lunchtime, but just tried to take it easy / leave work a bit early.

    At about 2 weeks post-op, I began getting some muscle soreness in my neck, but nothing major. I still get that from time to time during the day. My hip pain has improved considerably and doesn't really bother me too much right now. I still get a bit more tired than usual, but it seems to be improving.

    I just started driving again last Friday. As of today, I can turn my neck and move around quite well. However, I'm still not picking up anything heavy and I try to turn my head slowly (just in case).

    Best of luck with your surgery! I was really nervous during the last 2 weeks before surgery (especially after reading about so many of the more challenging post-op situations) and I'm guessing you might feel that way too. It seems my recovery has been on the easier side of the spectrum. Just wanted to let you know that some post-op outcomes can be fairly smooth. If I can help answer any questions, please let me know.

  • NewsgirlNNewsgirl Posts: 60
    edited 09/22/2014 - 2:48 AM
    Thanks for all the good advice. I think I'm having an unusually smooth recovery. I had surgery one week ago today. It happened pretty fast because my arm was getting weaker and weaker. The surgeon didn't want to wait. So I found out on the 11th that I was having the surgery on the 15th. Yikes! That was quick! So, literally my first stop after the surgeon's office was a furniture store to order a recliner. I'm glad I did that and it was invaluable the first few nights. I also borrowed a bed wedge and a few nights ago I slept in bed with that, though at some point in the night I ditched the wedge and ended up flat on my back,l which was OK. I have found the recliner most comfortable so I have slept in that every night but that one. I think I might stick with the recliner even after I am fully recovered! So, thanks for the good advice on that!

    For any pre-ACDF folks reading this, having gone through the surgery I think everyone's recovery is very different. I am so lucky that mine has really good. (Other than first night in hospital when idiot doctor messed up my med orders and I got no muscle relaxers and no baseline pain meds. I had almost NO meds my first night in the hospital. Agonizing and scary. But MUCH better after that. Make sure they give you the right meds in the hospital!)

    Anyway, thanks for the advice everyone. And speedy recovery to us all!

    C5/6 herniation, type 2 diabetes, generalized anxiety disorder
  • Hi Newsgirl, I'm going to be having the same surgery soon and I'm wondering what you did for a recliner. I noticed someone in this post recommended a power/push button one. Was yours like that or one with a handle or what? If the handle kind, did you have any trouble getting up?

    Thanks, Stu
  • Honestly for a single level fusion I think a wedge is enough. I had ACDF At C4/5 2 weeks ago and I am now sleeping normally in my bed without the wedge. I only used the wedge for about 10 days, so investing in a recliner seems like a lot for only a short time need. But hey, if you've been wanting a recliner or a new bed, then what a great excuse to get it.
    I found a nice memory foam wedge pillow on Amazon. It was very comfortable and only cost $50. Did the trick per toy for what I needed.
  • I had a C5-C7 Fusion and have been in a recliner since 2007 after my first Fusion on C6-C7. I have tried the bed again and again and wake up with more of a stiff neck than the recliner. I think it is because you can't really sleep on your side in a recliner, you could force it, but it's not a natural position in the chair. If you hate recliner's don't do it, if you don't mind them, buy a chair that really slides back. Buy a really good looking one that matches your home and have it just in case. You can't lose there.

    Good luck
  • Deb MohrDDeb Mohr Posts: 36
    edited 06/01/2015 - 8:54 AM
    I had lumbar fusion in 2001 and found I got zero rest the first few days of being home from the hospital. I actually ended up going back to the hospital for pain control. We ended up purchasing a adjustable bed and I thank heavens I have that bed now because Tuesday I am having a 3 level cervical fusion with Corpectomy.

  • I'm 46 and had c4-c7 done may 4, i stayed in the hospital 2 nights and came home. I had a wedge, long body pillow and a bunch of others. I would sleep in bed at night and spend the days in my recliner sleeping or watching TV petting my dog. After day 5 I give up the meds for Tylenol and improved pretty quick with hardly any pain. After two weeks all my pain was gone, the uncomfortable thing is sleeping in the collar. A couple of light fluffy pillows helped tremendously, I wished I would have got them way sooner.

    I'm almost a month after surgery and had a little pain today with the 44f temps and rain. My recliner and dog are still my daily hot spots.. I've been up and about since day 5 and now go outside and do a little gardening, just no heavy lifting till doc says ok. I have totally recovered from numb legs, muscle tremors, and barely being able to walk. I also have got all the dexterity and feeling back in my hands.

    Good luck and hope the best for you
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