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Pain when lying flat - trouble sleeping

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Chronic Pain
New to the forum business...please excuse my ignorance. I have had back problems off and on for many years. Two years ago I had an MRI which revealed a relatively small disc bulge with no nerve infringement and slight narrowing (don't remember exact terminology). Some PT maybe helped but problems persisted. I'm 33 now and have had constant trouble for probably two years now. Prior to MRI, symptoms included "catching" with certain movements sending shots of intense pain, trouble sitting in hard chairs, difficulty washing feet or putting on socks, serious pain when sneezing, slight throbbing in left leg with occasional tingling in foot. Several years ago, lost ability to sleep on stomach. Eventually had to sleep only on side. Now even fetal position is too difficult. Only relief is found when sleeping sitting up. For a couple months, I've been sleeping semi-reclined on our sofa. Mornings are much better that way. Going back to sleeping lying flat will put me right back to where I started. I've tried other mattresses...no help at all. Want to get back to sleeping with my wife...as does she. I don't sleep well sitting up, but pain is much improved. Unconsciously stretching during the night will still send a shock of pain right to the center of my lower back. Certain movements will still cause my back to "catch". Left leg/buttock/hip still throbs slightly. Sleeping sitting up though allows me to bend easily in the mornings and keeps me from waking with every movement during the night. Don't like doctor visits. Recent trip to chiro left me with no confidence. I've tried some exercises with little improvement...not good at staying consistent though. I'm looking for any advice. Thanks.


  • Welcome to SH, I am sorry to hear about your pain :( I know how you feel about not sleeping in the bed. So does my hubby!!

    What I've been told, but haven't gotten much relief from, is to try sleeping on your stomach, with a pillow under your hips. I am hoping a new bed, with a firmer mattress will help.

    I wish I could offer you more advice. I'm sure your wife understands though. I know its hard, having gone through this myself. My most comfortable position, is on my side on the couch. We have the couch with the recliners at both ends. There is a piece of wood between the 3 cushions. Very painful if you sit on them to hard!!! But they actually help me get comfortable. The wooden frame fits right into my waist, and my hip sinks down into the cushion on the other side. So its like the couch forms to the shape of my body, so there is no uncomfortable pressure points when I lay like that.

    I wish you luck, hope you find some relief soon!
  • Hello Hunter,
    Yes this is difficult and a continuing problem as you I have slept alone for many years and that in itself in hard to accept. You are doing correct finding what works for you; some of this may come form others suggestions and the preferable option are through trial and error. It is frustrating when the most recent option for some relief through sleep itself becomes a problem.

    Can you get to sleep or does the pain itself wake you, for my son who has had some sleep issues it was suggested he make night time sleeping a routine almost a learned behaviour. If the pain itself is keeping you awake rather than the position of sleeping in a certain way you could look at your medication as during those resting hours the coverage is diminished and I purposefully take medication at night on the basis that I do not have to deal with the associated symptoms while asleep.

    I make no excuse and PT is painful you could discuss this with your therapist of when level of increase to expect and keep a record of what specifically makes it better or worse. The reason most give up on PT is that the pace is set too high and the subsequent pain too dramatic and all motivation and confidence in the concept is eroded. Taking things at a very slow pace encourages continuance and it is a partnership and one that and therapist should be able to work collectively toward an acceptable solution. I also am a morning person as the restriction of my capacity dwindles throughout the day, and the collective emphasis of the week reduces my overall functionality as the weekend draws near.

    The fluctuation in my sleep ability is sporadic and it is never easy coping with the future with the feeling of lack of sleep and reduced capacity, many here have similar sleep difficulties.

    I had a failed fusion and have no sensation in my left foot and the omission of ankle jerks, I live downstairs now and as you say that lack of closeness taken for granted by others is a poignant reminder of the continuing limitation this chronic pain has. Never stop looking for a solution, and keep trying, we should receive more support in sleeping strategies. My doctor has become a friend and honest enough to say he himself does not have a solution, but will do his best to support me whenever possible and I could ask for no more. Some support is available and we sometimes need encouragement in asking for help, not sleeping adequately increases the risk of depression over the long term and that would take considerable effort to manage, and is better avoided at any cost, pain is pain however long you have had it, make no apologies we are here to help.

    Most of these problems associated with chronic pain go unnoticed and we live a private and personal existence, have hope and take care.


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  • hi and welcome to spine health.
    there are alot of people like yourself that suffer daily.
    i would agree if your able (money/insurance wise) get another mri ordered if possible to see if there is any change.
    just remember here that we are not drs just patients and cannot give out any medical advice just personal experiences with treatments etc..
    im lucky in that dept to have good insurance and get one every year with back issues.
    are you on any meds as in muscle relaxers/sleep meds anything to make your more comfortable while trying to sleep???
    in some cases (personal opinion only) chiro's can cause more damage per my PM dr i used to go to, depending on the severity of your injury to your back.

    have you tried any alternative treatments as in injections etc??

    the term (i think) you are referring to narrowing of the spine would be "stenosis" someone correct me if i am wrong.
    which can be very painful for some people.

    in my opinion if your able due to money or insurance issues get into a orthopedic surgeon that specilizes in spines.
    or some people prefer neurosurgeons that specialize in the spine. to get their opinion to seek out some of your options. if not there is programs in all states to try to get you some type of treatment or appt to get things going.

    hang in there we all feel your pain!!
    keep us updated on how your doing..
    take care
    terri >:D<
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i sleep half up in bed because i am more comfortable. check out the "Sleep" forum for some more input! I) good luck and keep in touch! Jenny :)
  • WELCOME :)
    First of all get a current MRI, alot can change in a short time.
    I sleep with one or usually two pillows under my knees a small pillow in addition to my regular under my head. That kinda gives the same effect as a recliner. I stand for an 8 hour shift so I can hardly wait to get home and put my feet up. I put in for accomidation for a stool. We'll see. My back and and legs mostly left side hurt so bad and the spasms drive me nuts. I just finished my PT of four weeks. I am going to see my brothers back surgeon Oct 20th in Dallas Tx. My brother is very please with hom. He's 7yrs older than me and we have the same problem. I live in SW Arizona so this should be fun.
    Also you might try back stretching excerises, this can sometimes help even for a short time.
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  • I forgot to mention I also sleep on a cold pack or heating pad. Whatever sounds best at the time.
  • Thanks to all you. I feel like my problems are only minor compared to most of yours. The pain wakes me. The constant pain is only minor. Moving is what does it for me during the night. I have even caused myself to wake up by yelling out loud. I think I would put up with the pain of sleeping if I could wake up and be able to move freely. That's the part that really bothers me...can't bend over...have to stop myself from sneezing...etc. I could probably handle the pain, but I don't like limiting the things I can do. I've got two young boys that need their daddy to romp. I haven't tried any of the alternative methods other than PT and exercise. Thanks again for all your comments. I think I feel better already...ha. It is all very helpful.
  • Hunter,
    Many here contrast and compare, minor never says it all, pain is pain is pain, that transition from having no pain to having some was a big step, and in relation to my future a monumental change, I had no idea at the time the life changing impact it was going to have and in some ways I was glad to have that hope for improvement, even when it never happened.

    Comparing is good when it orders you in the hierarchy of need and we use those less fortunate to equate how difficult it is for them, we use this in relation to our condition that as you say things could be worse, that concept in itself does not change our situation but may help with our attitude or perception and some begrudging acceptance. As many here our lives are very diffident than we ever imagined and we are to be applauded for the tenacity and endeavour we use every day to survive.

    We welcome you to our community, reflective of the pain we share, whatever your duration or severity.

    Take care, how is the sleeping going.

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