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Morning Stiffness, OUCH!!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all;
Well, I am 9 weeks post-op fusion with instrumentation L5-S1. Progressing Slowly but do see improvements. Started driving a couple of days ago. Walking gait is getting more normal with less pain. The left leg Sciatica pain is 90% gone. Toes tingle but I can live with it.
My problem STILL is the mornings getting off the bed. Last night I slept with a heating pad and 1/2 way through the night turned it on and did a few stretches. The usual stuff. Semi knee to the chest, leg lifts, pelvic tilts and a attempt at bridges. It felt good. It felt that sleeping with an option of heat to loosen things up could work.
I awoke later and repeated the process before trying to get out of bed. I have to say from this point on, it went down hill very rapidly. Trying to stand was like a few days post-op. Thank God I still keep the walker next to the bed. Even with that is was hard standing. Barely walked to the toilet. Grabbing at every wall and counter to hold me up. I have removed the Toilet riser and it is a long way down to sit. I am a big guy (250+ and almost 6'2").
That was very painful and the cleaning part was almost a comedy.
I then reached for the Percocet which I haven't had in weeks. I have been taking a vicoden or Darvocet almost everyday. No more Lyrica for about 6 weeks. It was suspect in some severe leg swelling (turned out to be the Caduet).

What am I doing wrong or not doing? Walking for an hour in the pool everyday and thats great. I made it up the ladder (usually walk in from the shallow steps) which maybe wasn't the smartest move but still even without doing that, I have cronic acute morning stiffness.
Any comments would be appreciated for sure.
Do I ask the P.A. for a muscle relaxer?. I think they will say, it takes time. time is not my friend after not working since October of last year. You can get the picture. My goal is to return to work in September.
The only thing I can think of is that maybe I should cut out the knee to the chest exercise while lying flat on my back. I am still under no BLT until I see the surgeon again August 1st. Even though I have the problem without doing it.
i am going on an airplane in a month and that has me worried. Not so much the travel but visiting a friend and her facilities are less post-op friendly as of now.
Thanks All!! for the vent.


  • I am 2 1/2 weeks post-op from my PLIF and have a heck of a time with stiffness getting up after lying down for a while, especially at night. What I find helps is getting up a couple times a night, usually when my pills are due, and walking around for 5 or 10 minutes throughout the house before changing position and getting back into bed. I am on a muscle relaxer as well.

    Christina :)
  • The one thing that I wonder about is you doing the bridges. Is this something that your doc or PT recommended post op with instrumentation?

  • C-When I had at home P.T., the therapist had me do bridges. its not like I can get full clearance but I can do it.
    I will be talking to a therapist I know on Monday and will ask her. Meanwhile a RN friend of mine said take the pain pills as needed.

    Christina-one P.T. suggested that I sleep with more pillows under my back to sleep in an more upright position. when I was 2-3 weeks out. It didn't work for me.

  • Christina,

    I am 15 months post op from a 360, 5 level fusion and let me tell you I still have stiffness when I get out of bed. Actually, I have it whenever I am in one position too long, sitting or lying down. So, keep on stretching, it does help make the stiffness go away quicker.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • Hi there,

    I too suffer from morning stiffness but it's not as bad as yours. After my surgery my physiotherapist told me not to do any of my stretches or mobilisation exercises for at least an hour after I got up in the morning, so maybe the knee raises are too much to cope with? Try not doing them for a couple of days and see how you feel.

    If I sleep on my back I only have 1 pillow under my head and 2 under the back of my knees. If I'm on my side I have a pillow between my thighs to stop the spine from twisting. That makes me more comfortable.

    I think it's good you're speaking to someone on monday to get some professional advice. Good luck and I hope things settle down soon. Spicey
  • Thanks Spicy. I will give it all a try starting tonight!!
  • I am 13 weeks out and usually wake up at about 1 every night with stiffness and end up going and sleeping in a chair. Sometimes I go back to bed for a few hours. My problem with my stiffness is that it sometimes leads to a back spasm so I don't take a chance going back to bed. Sleeping in a chair has less of a chance for a back spasm. I can say that I know recover from the stifness much quicker than in the beginning. I usually do stretches when I wake up in my chair and that helps.
  • I had a three level fusion plif 22 weeks ago, and still find it hard and slow to get up out of bed. I kinda sit up in bed on the edge, arrange things back there, then slowly rise up. But I still have my toilet riser in my master bath. It's just more comfortable. In our other bathrooms I atleast have the counter top to lift myself up with.

    It just sounds like your trying too hard and kinda pushing it. This is a very slow healing process. I know absolutely how frustrating it is and depressing, and you fight with yourself everyday about not being able to live your "normal" life. I've had many many "sit down and talk to Jesus" conversation with myself trying to accept this change. I'm just not the kind of woman to lay around, watch tv, and eat "bon-bons". I'm a real go-getter. But this major surgery really threw a "wrench in the works". Like I said, I'm at 22 weeks.

    My Neurosurgeon just approved my physical therapy to start at 20 weeks. From some of the conversations taking place in this forum, it sounds to me like a lot of surgeons start PT way too soon, and the people end up having surgery all over again. EEEEWWWW, I can't imagine!!! My Neurosurgeon wouldn't let me start until I was atleast 85% fused, cause you take a chance of screws popping out of porus bone before your fused. Made since to me, but was a very frustrating, long 20 weeks. But he made since.

    Please, just slow down. You're going to hurt yourself. Baby yourself...I know thats hard for a male with tons of testosteron running through your veins, but your going to have to, or suffer the consiquences. Your really early on. I was still in excrutiating 24-7 pain at 9 weeks. After excersising, lay on ice for 1/2 hour. When muscles are sore, use a heating pad. And pillows should be your "best friend" at this stage.

    Keep your toilet riser, keep your grabber close at hand, and most of all keep taking your pain meds, if your concentrating on your pain, you will not heal!! And walk, walk, walk, you'll see results weekly. Walking promotes bone and tissue growth, both of which have been totally manipulated in depth!!! Take care, and good luck
  • On this forum "back surgeries", scroll down to "Just wanted to share my boo-boo with you" and you'll see a lovely photo of my back. OUCH!!! Just to give you some idea of what I've been going through for 22 weeks. ;)
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