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sleeping after fusion question

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, i was wondering in what position is the best to sleep after an L4/L5 fusion? Can you sleep on your sides?? Back? I heard that you cannot sleep on your stomach. Is that true? Jaime


  • Hi Jamie,
    I just had a fusion at l5/s1, as of this past Monday. The instructions I got were either to sleep on back or side, and if on your side to use a pillow between knees. Well I have been using a body pillow between my knees even before surgery as it helped with my back. Since surgery I have started using a body pillow on both sides of me, so that if I get uncomfortable on one side can roll to other side, and not have to wrangle the body pillow from side to side.
  • How are you feeling after your fusion? I am a bit worried about the recovery. Especially since i have a baby, 2 preschoolers, and a first grader. I know I need the fusion, I am just scared of the unknown. And advise or tips?? How long were you in the hospital?
    Thanks Jaime
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  • I wasn't told anything regarding sleep positions. Might be something to ask when I see my NS after surgery.

    Anyone have back and front cut at the same time? How did you sleep? I tend to toss and turn all night, sleeping in many different positions. Totally didn't even think of sleep until jaime5 started this thread!
  • I had alot of trouble sleeping. I couldn't turn side to side myself I was so sore. My husband brought home a couple of those hospital pads to use underneath me like they do in the hospital to help turn me. Once he got me turned he placed a pillow beside me so I wouldn't roll back. I went from side to back to side for quite awhile after I got hme with his help. I gradually made it to being able to turn myself over. I also needed his help getting in and out of bed.

    Best of Luck with your recovery,
    Christina :)
  • I had my L4/L5 fusion on Sept 12 and find sleeping in any position difficult. I was told at the hospital that I should not sleep on my stomach...sides or back ok.
    Thanks for the good ideas about turning over, Christina. I'm glad to hear that you sound pretty positive 3-4 months later.

    Has anyone experienced crippling pain in the buttock upon raising or lowering? It seems to be in one particular angle and I'm finding that if I change the position of my feet then it seems to alleviate the pain, but I wonder if I'm doing the right thing?
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  • I was only in the hospital for 2 days, day of surgery and the following day. Yes, you will be sore and to move will take a lot of effort, but just take it slow and as they say learn how to do the log roll, which for the life of me I still haven't figure out why they call it that :))( I have always been a side or stomach sleeper, so to sleep on my back isn't comfortable for me so I was thankful for one of the options was to be able to sleep on side. #:S I had read in a thread on here about suggestions for things you will need post op and it was wonderful!! It did mention the idea of turning pads, which is used by placing under you and then if you have to turn have someone pull it helping you at the same time to turn.
    As for little ones around, it is gonna be very tuff for you,and I don't say that to be mean, I just know how tuff it is for me, my youngest grandaughter is 14 mos old, and she has attached herself to me like a shadow since I've been out of work, and she doesn't understand why her Gigi can't pick her up. =(( I also have dogs that are used to jumping on me and playing, but the smart creatures that they are, they have sensed that they can't do that with me now. I hope I have helped in some way. Best of luck to you and sending you warm positive thoughts. >:D<
  • Jaime-
    In response to your concerns about sleeping, I did not really think about this before the surgery, although I found it difficult to sleep in the hospital (most people do). I had a trapeze in the hospital. This looks is a metal triangle that is suspended from a frame that is attached to your bed. My doctor apparently orders this for all of his patients because most are spinies or total joint replacement patients, so he anticipates the need. This greatly helped me with turning because it gave me something to hold onto in the hospital. The most important thing to remember about sleeping, I think, is that it will be difficult in any position, so you may want to purchase a memory foam mattress pad or an egg crate mattress pad to help with the soreness (1 week post-op and still with some residual soreness in both hips). Also, the silk sheets/silk pajamas suggestions I read before would have been nice because you end up sticking to cotton sheets. Unfortunately, I do not have the $$ for any of this, so I have found ways to grab my bed frame and turn myself if my boyfriend is asleep and I need to change positions. The main thing to remember is to keep your shoulders in line with your pelvis (avoid twisting) when you reposition yourself because this (twisting/bending) puts a lot of strain on your muscles which are trying to heal. I don't believe that this jeopardizes the fusion, but it will cause some pretty severe pain. I have had significantly low levels of pain postoperatively, to my surprise, and I mostly attribute this to my young age (23). However, I believe that you have to try to stay as positive as you can about the whole thing. Sure, surgery and hospitals aren't fun, but you are going in this to get better, so keep your chin up. I don't have any children, so I can't give you any advice regarding that, but I certainly agree with Sara in that you should try to find someone who can help you with the kids and around the house. I had a two-level fusion (L4-S1) and am recovering very well, and it is definitely a bit of an easier recovery with a single level fusion, but everyone is different. Listen to your body and know what level of pain you can tolerate. Obviously, you are having surgery so you are dealing with severe pain already, but don't let it get to the point (postoperatively) where you're in tears because it's not only hard for you but also for those trying to care for you. I have gotten on a schedule where I take my Vicodin (they tried to give me Percocets but I refused because I couldn't hold anything down in the hospital) after breakfast since sleeping makes me achy and then before my walks/before my bf comes home so I'm not in pain and moody. This 'schedule' has helped tremendously and I'm not grumpy but smiley instead! I was in the hospital from Wednesday (surgery day) to Saturday of last week. I am walking around the block already with/without the cane. I honestly feel like a million dollars. Again, everyone is different, but keep yourself distracted or plan activities for your kids to keep your mind occupied. This will help you forget about the pain. I wish you the best of luck for your surgery and keep us informed! I'm sorry if I ramble. I am thinking of all of these tidbits I wish I had known before my surgery : ) Take care and best of luck!
  • I was told I could sleep on my back or my side, which ever was comfy. Yes with a pillow under upper leg if on the side. After 6 weeks the Dr OK'd tummy sleeping but I really dont find it that comfy anymore.
    I like to sleep half on my side half on my tummy but I put a mini pillow under my belly to stop it from dropping forward.

    My mum (Bless her) made me these slippery sheets.
    They are like the old hospital draw sheet that goes across the bed and tucks in both sides. So they are about a metre wide and made of cotton but she has sewn a patch of satin into the main part of it. The edges though are cotton so I cant slip off the bed :))(
    I cant tell you how wonderful these are! It made all the difference in being able to move around. I even took them to hospital though lost a few to the laundry.

    Yes you could just use satin sheets but you would have to be really really careful not to slip off the bed.

    If you have the time I would recommend makeing some, it really only takes about 10 mins a sheet.

    Now- Who is going to be looking after your baby and children beause you certainly cant after a fusion.
    Do you have someone who will come and stay with you during the day?
    NO BLT bending lifting or twisting for quite a while after.
    You will really have to do a lot of organising beforehand to make it easier for you later.

    I dont mean to scare you :SS but the more prepared you are the better. and the thing you need most is a positive attitude! ;)

    Also remember that every doctor is different so really it is best to ask your own doctor.
    You will find so many differening opinions about so many subjects here but you really have to go with what your own Dr says.

    Blessings Sara

    Feel free to PM me if you want to.

  • Lots of pillows! I pretty much box myself in with pillows so I won't twist in my sleep (became a worry now that I am having less pain and more mobile). Pillow under the knees(back) or between the knees(side). Angelback's satin draw sheets gave me an idea, and the day I came home from the hospy my sister bought me a satin baby crib blanket (pink-Winniethepooh) and I used it like a turning pad, plus the satin makes it easy to roll over. I still use it now, I love it. (You may have some of these on hand with little ones at home.) Good luck, it is great you are getting yourself informed and well prepared. Sue
  • I was cut front and back for my first fusion (L4/L5) and in the hospital 5 days. I laid on my back (not much sleeping) with a pillow under my knees. The nurses would put me on my side occassionally. But the back was the most comfortable. My 2nd fusion was L1 to L5 and I still was on my back with a pillow under my knees. And it is still how I sleep (almost one year out from 2nd fusion). Everyone is different but I never was that comfortable on my side unless I had a body pillow to lean against.
    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.
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