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How do you get out of bed in the morning post-op????

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,556
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
OMG, getting out of bed after sleeping more than a few hours is unbelievably painful. Twice now, I've gotten up in the middle of the night and the pain in my lower back and the back of my legs is excruciating to the point that I can't walk and just cry. I try to get to the bathroom, but can't make it and have to yell out to hubby to come help me.

Of course, just rolling over in bed hurts, and after I've been up for a while it still hurts to sit from standing and stand from sitting, but the mornings are so bad I need to find a solution. I'm going to put a cane next to my bed, but that's only going to help me walk, not keep the pain from being so bad.

One of the thoughts I had: I've been able to sleep in my bed like I always did, with no extra pillow and not inclined at all, but I'm comfortable sleeping on either side. I think that since I normally bend my legs up a bit when I sleep like that, that when I finally get up the muscle spasms in the back of my legs are so bad because they're getting stretched after hours of being bent.

Could this be it? Should I sleep inclined instead of flat? Should I try and just sleep in my recliner?

I'm at my wits end with this morning crud. Has anybody been able to find a solution to this post-op problem?



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,807
    most of this discomfort will be reduced and hopefully eliminated.
    But, during the first couple of weeks and perhaps month or two after lumbar surgery, every move (especially in bed) hurts.
    I found that sleeping in a recliner was easier. You could move around a bit easier without the stabbing pain.
    It will get better....
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Hi Cath,

    First, glad to hear that you're home and hope the recovery goes well. I'm mostly a side sleeper, post surgery, I found putting a pillow between my legs very helpful in minimizing the pains. I would use a bed pillow horrizontally, placing the middle at about knee level so it would extend up into the thigh area & down into the calf area. I actually used the headboard to help me log roll to either shift position or to get out of the bed, gave me something substantial to grab to make the moves. The other thing that may help is what I call "Gwennie's trick", but in bed instead of the floor. Lay flat in bed, bend knees, feet flat on mattress, arms near your sides, palms up and breathe slowly and relax for about 5-10 mins. I would stay away from a recliner, it's hard to get out of & really isn't recommended post lumbar fusion. Also, have you been given an RX for muscle relaxer, this may help especially if you can schedule a dose around bedtime.

    Hope this helps.
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  • but, I have lots of cramps and spasms in my legs and lower back in the morning. I find that stretching out my legs and moving them before I try to get out of bed, reduces the spasms. I still get them while I am moving my legs, but at least I'm not trying to stand or walk them.
    For the lower back, I move it about a bit before getting out of bed. That may be more difficult after surgery.

    Hope you find a solution. If you do please let us all know. It will be useful for lots of others, I'm sure.
  • Do not even try to get into a recliner, let alone contemplate sleeping in it at this point in your recovery. It is not at all designed to support the spine in the appropriate ways after you've had lumbar surgery. You are much better off spending much of the day on a good mattress, using a variety of pillows to prop yourself when you require a change in position.

    You are very early in your recovery and the bottom line is that it just HURTS to change positions. As others suggested, try to get the blood flowing a bit before you try to get up. Pump your ankles to get the blood flowing. Gently, of course! Even wiggling your toes will help.

    Did you learn those isometric exercises in the hospital, hamstring setting and gluteal setting? You could do a few of those to get the blood flowing. It would be beneficial if you could change position during the time you are in bed. Put your knees up for a while, then try to position yourself with them down flatter, with a smaller, flat pillow under the knee for support. Try sleeping on your side with a small pillow between your knees.

    Are you taking pain meds? I wasn't that uncomfortable the first three weeks because I was so drugged up, I think!! @) I am a BIG believer in a satin bottom sheet. Just the other night I slept in a bed that had flannel sheets and I was wearing something flannel, and two years out from my fusion, it struck me how hard it was to roll over...how much energy it took, and how I never could have moved after my surgery with this combination of clothes and sheets!!

    Remember to spend most of your time resting and then taking short walks. In addition to no bending, twisting or lifting, remember to add reaching to the list. Do not reach overhead or to the side. (People sometimes forget about this one.)

    Sending healing thoughts your way -- hope they don't freeze on the way....


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,807
    I do understand what everyone is saying about the recliner... Once you are in, you are in, and getting out is very hard.
    I went into the recliner early in the morning and basically stayed there for 24 hours a day
    The only times I got out was when nature called and then it was only with help.
    But overall, I was more comfortable in the recliner than I was in bed.
    Then again, thats why we are all individuals... What works for someone, might hurt another.
    Cath, as you know from being on this site, read what everyone has to say, digest it and then you decide what is the best for you.
    You know what is the right thing for you
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • After the first couple of weeks I spent several hours in the recliner. I was also more comfortable in them. We have 2 styles- I used the more supportive one.

    In bed I placed pillows under my legs and under either side of my back so my scar would not touch the bed. I would be locked into bed (if that makes sense) kind of a nest.

    Satin sheets or pj's and a cane will help getting out of bed. Log rolling of course.

    Plus I took my meds about 20 minutes before attempting to get out of bed to use the bathroom, shower, (pretty much any activity).

  • julie-good reminder about taking meds before getting out of bed,showering,going to dr----I need to remember that!
  • I wish I had some new fabulous idea to contribute, but like many here I slept in a recliner for the first few days, with a nice big chunk of memory foam right under my lumbar are for support. The first day or two home I had trouble getting myself out of it, but after being stuck in my recliner for about 6 hours because I had no one to help me out, I learned to scoot myself forward a little and luckily my arms are long enough that I could reach the handle. And between using my weight as leverage, my legs for a little push on the foot rest, and pulling the handle I was able to work it out so I could do it by myself.

    And though I never had trouble with spasms post-op,
    I did have a hard time sleeping on my side because my hips and thighs were sore from being manhandled during surgery, and of course laying on my back wasn't any fun...until I got another nice chunk of memory foam for beneath my surgery site.

    The other thing that helped me a ton was taking the time to roll onto my back for a sec before I log rolled out of bed, and stretched my legs a bit before getting up. And pillows in the right place, like Gwennie suggested, also helped.

    Don't know how much help any of that is, but I sure hope you find something(s) that work for you!
  • I feel your pain! I remember it so vividly. I know everyone is different and every dr has a different opinion too so do what your dr tells you and take my advice as just another spiney that can relate. I had L2/3/4 fusion.... here is what my dr told me and what I did:

    My dr. told me to lay flat with just one pillow under my head, no propping up at all as it puts pressure on the spine where you want it to heal properly. Also, not to lay on my sides at first, not even with a pillow between legs (later I could do that but honestly it still hurts if I sleep like that too long) but to lay flat with a pillow under your legs where it feels best for the first few weeks. Because of the pillow under my legs and stiffness/pain I did need help out of bed for the first 2 weeks. I called my husband for help. I would log roll over then use my arm to help me lift up like Saltsworks describes, do as she says or put something sturdy next to the bed to help you get up(they do make bed bars to fit between mattress too)....once sitting up take time to rest before standing, use your walker to get up and walk at first, you can ditch it along the way if you don't need it! But the 1st week-10 days my husband even had to help me log roll and up sometimes. This might seem odd to some...but I would have my husband put a pillow on each side of me to prop my arms on sometimes, and it took different sizes at different times (I couldn't have enough pillows and still have 6 on the bed to pick from!LOL!) Try a small pillow under your arms, oh yea, I wasn't suppose to put my arms up under my head, raise them up, which I like to do so maybe that is why the pillows under my arms helped me too.

    I know we need sleep to heal and you are lucky if you are able to sleep longer than 2 hours at a time. But truthfully, I think another thing that helped me was that I woke up every 2 hours and got up during the night.....even if I didn't potty(but being an old female that was rare! LOL)and walk with or without my walker around the house for awhile. Of course, I had to wake my poor husband at first but he didn't mind because he made sure I was up safely, got my meds, fresh water bedside, etc. Soon enough you will be better...remember to follow your advice, and listen to your body and that this major surgery takes time and patience. Patience is key word with lumbar fusions for sure!!!

    Also, my dr said no recliner and never sit in any chair that your feet weren't touching flat on the floor, make sure the chair is padded/comfortable and
    DO NOT SIT more than 10 minutes at a time and not often...bathroom and to eat should be the only time you sit until he tells you longer. Oh yea, don't try to stretch or arch your back at all and no straight leg lifts, keep feet flat on bed if you bend your legs at knees like Gwennie says, she always has good advice for us all.

    I know this is long, sorry, but hope it helps. I know everyone and all drs have their own advice and opinion so please take my advice as helpful hints from a fellow lumbar spiney, use some of the helpful hints all our other spineys mentioned as some have alot more experience than me, but please call your dr or his nurse and ask them first! Remember, Cath, this takes alot of time and patience, you have helped so many on here,so take your own advice and you will be better in no time!

    Since you had the leg pain with your nerves it will take time for them to heal. Some days you will have more pain and some days less as they heal and yes, walking did hurt but I forced myself. I cried alot too, so cry if you need to! I remember crying, anger, sadness, and all....it's partly from pain and being discouraged we can't get up and do things like we want but it's alos that post op low from pain,meds, anesthetic, etc.....keep your head up, Cath! You are doing well considering you are not even a week post op!


  • And see Gwennie mentioned not to reach overhead too...sorry I repeated things. That means help with your hair in the shower and not reaching in closets or cabinets too! I wasn't suppose to lean forward, push or pull, along with no BLT and I'm short so that might be why the dr did not want me in a recliner at all. Who knows?
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