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Thread: Any tips for sleeping comfortably?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    90

    Any tips for sleeping comfortably?

    I know sleeping is a big issue on the forum, and almost 3 months post op, it is a major issue for me. At night I go to bed very sleepy, but cannot fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. I just cannot get comfortable, which I feel is a major factor in my inability to fall asleep. I put a pillow under my legs which feels comfortable for a short time only. So, I try sleeping on one side, then the other. Very uncomfortable, and my shoulders start hurting.

    So, I come to you for suggestions. Do any of you have ways that have helped you get comfortable when you try to sleep? I'd be most appreciative if you would share them.

    Many thanks

    Karen
    Karen, 66 years "young"
    Polio at 6
    Diagnosed with scoliosis at school; no treatment
    Lumbar curve in 2005: 40; moderate pain
    Lumbar curve in 2009: 55; pain severe
    Lumbar curve after surgery: 21
    Surgeon - Dr. William Lauerman, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Three surgeries in one week:
    8/24/09 L3 to S1 anterior spinal fusion with Harm cage
    8/28/09 Posterior spinal fusion from T10 to S1 with instrumentation
    9/1/09 Partial revision of instrumentation


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    near Philadelphia
    Posts
    1,260
    At three months post-op I was still going to sleep pretty drugged, otherwise I don't think I would have slept at all!

    Sleeping is still an issue for me. I am also not comfortable in one position for too long, even now, and pretty much toss and turn most of the night. I take Melatonin,which helps a little, and when I'm desperate I'll take a Benadryl.

    I notice a lot of people say their shoulders hurt in the beginning when they lie on their side...mine did too and that did go away after a few months.
    Chris
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    114
    For a while, I only took my percocet at night, and that really helped me b/c I really felt the relaxing effects. But when I stopped taking it I did find I was very restless...especially trying to sleep on my back. I did try to cut out the napping and get a little more exercise, so I felt tired.
    Now I am off pain meds, but as my numbness on the right side (where my incision is)subsides, I find I am having upper leg pain on the same side that is making it hard to go to sleep and sometimes waking me up. I really don't want to take the pain meds. Starting out on my side helped me fall asleep, though I would usually wake up and go on my back.
    A heating pad helps me, too, and though I don't recommend it due to safety concerns, mine turns off after about 15 minutes...so far I haven't scorched myself or burned the house down...try at your own risk!
    I shower at night too and, if you're off paind meds, a little lass of wine helps...
    Kathy, 43
    Diagnosed as a teen
    Boston brace 2 years
    63 degree lumbar curve
    Surgery August 26, 2009
    Anterior approach fused T12-L4
    now 28 degrees

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,933
    Karen,

    A 2-4 inch thick foam topper makes a big difference in getting comfortable. I feel its mandatory.

    I cut off about 2 feet so my shoulders would hang off the end of the foam. Since my right shoulder was broken before I went in, this is what I came up with and it worked well. The pillow position was about 6 inches beyond the drop-off point, and created a gap for the shoulders.

    Soft down pillows, help quite a bit. I have about 6 on my bed. If you roll over, the odds are higher that one will be in the right position after executing the roll. LOL

    If you are still on meds, try not to lose too much weight. Meds also affect sleep.

    Sleeping like a cat seems to be part of the program. The afternoon cat naps will have an effect on your ability to sleep at night. It takes time till you will have that effective 9 hours of quality sleep. It will come.
    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 60, the new 55...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    90
    Hi All,

    Thanks so much for your suggestions. I'm off oxycontin but still take 4-5 percocet per day. Because I'm also having considerable nerve pain in my left leg and foot during the night (does wonders for sleeping LOL), my doctor started me on 300mg neurontin at night. If that doesn't put me too sleep, I do take one melatonin. Last night even all that didn't help me sleep.

    Singer, do you just take one melatonin? With all the other meds I'm taking, I'm kind of afraid to take more than that.

    Ed, I have a 2-inch egg crate bed topper downstairs so I'll bring it up to try in my bed. If that doesn't help, I buy a thicker one. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Kathy, I like your heating pad suggestion. I'm going to get one of the kind that shuts off automatically. First, however, I need to try my microwaveable heating pad to see if that helps.

    Again, thank you all. Does anyone else have some suggestions?

    Karen
    Karen, 66 years "young"
    Polio at 6
    Diagnosed with scoliosis at school; no treatment
    Lumbar curve in 2005: 40; moderate pain
    Lumbar curve in 2009: 55; pain severe
    Lumbar curve after surgery: 21
    Surgeon - Dr. William Lauerman, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Three surgeries in one week:
    8/24/09 L3 to S1 anterior spinal fusion with Harm cage
    8/28/09 Posterior spinal fusion from T10 to S1 with instrumentation
    9/1/09 Partial revision of instrumentation


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
    Posts
    1,445
    Quote Originally Posted by lumbar3491 View Post
    Hi All,

    Thanks so much for your suggestions. I'm off oxycontin but still take 4-5 percocet per day. Because I'm also having considerable nerve pain in my left leg and foot during the night (does wonders for sleeping LOL), my doctor started me on 300mg neurontin at night. If that doesn't put me too sleep, I do take one melatonin. Last night even all that didn't help me sleep.

    Karen
    Hi Karen,

    I bought a 2 1/2 inch thick memory foam mattress a few months ago and although it is nice and comfortable, it doesn't solve the problem of nerve pain. I am taking 900 to 1200mgs neurontin for my nerve pain and until the nerves settle down for the night, it doesn't seem to matter how comfortable the bed feels. It is very hard to relax and fall asleep when you are in pain. Sometimes Tylenol PM works for me. I hope you find something that works for you because sleep is so important to healing.

    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Quote Originally Posted by lumbar3491 View Post
    I know sleeping is a big issue on the forum, and almost 3 months post op, it is a major issue for me. At night I go to bed very sleepy, but cannot fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. I just cannot get comfortable, which I feel is a major factor in my inability to fall asleep. I put a pillow under my legs which feels comfortable for a short time only. So, I try sleeping on one side, then the other. Very uncomfortable, and my shoulders start hurting.

    So, I come to you for suggestions. Do any of you have ways that have helped you get comfortable when you try to sleep? I'd be most appreciative if you would share them.

    Many thanks

    Karen
    Karen,

    I think that at 3 months, I was in a pretty similar position. I always startedon my back with the pillows under my legs, but that did get uncomfortable after a while. I'd say by 4 or 5 months (kind of hard to remember) sleeping on my side got comfortable again--all of a sudden. I had the sore shoulder thing going on too,and it turned out that I had a frozen shoulder. Physical therapy for 3 months helped that, and I hardly notice it any more.

    One other note, when I need to take muscle relaxants for muscle spasms in my back now and then---I sleep like a baby. No waking up till the morning. I take Soma, which according to the pharmacist, has the nickname 'Coma'.
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Ditto to Sally's comment on the memory foam topper. I have a 3 inch one and I don't think I could sleep at all without it.
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Posts
    21

    Angry

    I am three months out - fusion L10-S-1
    My problem is this: (I'm almost embarrassed to admit this but if it helps others that I will be glad)
    I started taking two percocets every night to help me get to sleep -either because of aching pain in my back, or pain in my hand from arthritis. Well, three months out I find now that if I DON'T take the percocet I can't go to sleep - my body feels like it's going in a million directions and my brain as well. and we're talking only 1-2 pills hydrocodone at night. I fessed up to the doctor last week and he suggested I take Benadryl and taper off the hydrocone. so I'm trying that but I am at 1 and 1/2 pills hydcrocone and i don't see a big difference.
    is this addiction or am I making a big deal out of nothing?
    p.s. the doctor asked at the end of the appt if I wanted a refill of the hydrocodone!!!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    114
    I started feeling that way, too. At 2 months post-op, I would take one before I went to sleep. And it was hard when I stopped. As long as you are not in too much pain...try to persevere! Since I've been back to work, I've had a couple nights when I was in pain, but managed to get through it and fall asleep. It's personal decision and pain meds can be important to help you sleep and heal. I definitely am not ready to dump them! I have them if it gets unbearable! Tapering off helps a lot!
    Kathy, 43
    Diagnosed as a teen
    Boston brace 2 years
    63 degree lumbar curve
    Surgery August 26, 2009
    Anterior approach fused T12-L4
    now 28 degrees

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Huxley, Iowa
    Posts
    190
    I am the complete opposite when it comes to the foam topper, In fact anytime mentions memory foam specifically, I shudder! I found that it made it SO much harder to move in your sleep and made me feel like I was a turtle stuck on its back, not able to move. I think its because it makes a depression when you lay on it, so to move you have to get out of the depression long enough for it to spring back up. I tried it for 3 nights...never ever again!
    I did find that a body pillow called the "preggle" (its marketed to pregnant women) worked wonders this surgery. http://www.amazon.com/Preggle-Comfor...8697633&sr=8-1
    the between the legs option is nice, but it also helped on my back with it curled under my head and shoulders. Also, I like having it under my head on my side with the long part behind me as sort of added protection, or if I want to roll part of the way over. Hope that helps!
    25 years old
    double 70+ degree curves before surgery
    Anterior on 11/11/08
    Posterior on 12/2/08 with titanium rods
    nearly perfect correction
    fused t-10 to pelvis
    with a hemi-vertebral osteotomy at L4

    Broke right rod at L4-L5 on 06/26/09
    Broke left rod on 10/24/09
    Revision surgery on 11/5/09 with vitallium rods
    Broke both rods again

    Had posterior than anterior revisions on 03/11 at the Twin Cities Spine Center
    Declared "FUSED" on 12/6/11

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Adelaide, Australia
    Posts
    424

    Smile

    Hi,
    I take Dr Schuessler Tissue Salts for Insomnia, during the day and then the last dose just before bed. Being natural, it dosen't work overnight, but their great once they kick in. The same tissue salt can be used for restless sleep due to muscle cramps, sciatica and inflammation. I also have two pillows under my head and shoulders and two under my knees. When I turn on my sides, I sort of lie on top of the pillow (kind of half on my side - leaning forward so to speak). Hope it doesn't last too long for you as you must be getting exhausted not sleeping and going to work.
    Vali
    44 years young! now 45
    Surgery - June 1st, 2009
    Dr David Hall - Adelaide Spine Clinic
    St. Andrews Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia
    Pre-op curve - 58 degree lumbar
    Post -op - 5 degrees
    T11 - S1 Posterior
    L4/5 - L5/S1 Anterior Fusion

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoee View Post
    I am three months out - fusion L10-S-1
    My problem is this: (I'm almost embarrassed to admit this but if it helps others that I will be glad)
    I started taking two percocets every night to help me get to sleep -either because of aching pain in my back, or pain in my hand from arthritis. Well, three months out I find now that if I DON'T take the percocet I can't go to sleep - my body feels like it's going in a million directions and my brain as well. and we're talking only 1-2 pills hydrocodone at night. I fessed up to the doctor last week and he suggested I take Benadryl and taper off the hydrocone. so I'm trying that but I am at 1 and 1/2 pills hydcrocone and i don't see a big difference.
    is this addiction or am I making a big deal out of nothing?
    p.s. the doctor asked at the end of the appt if I wanted a refill of the hydrocodone!!!!!
    Zoe,
    yes you are addicted, and it happened to me as well. When I was tapering off my narcotics, I found that I was having withdrawl symptoms when I got below 3 short acting pills per day. The dr. told me there was another blood pressure med that could help take away the withdrawl symptoms, but I didn't want that since my BP is low as it is. The way I handled it was by stretching out the intervals between my pills each time I took them--even it was 5 or 10 minues longer than the last one. Once I was down to 2 per day, it took me another week or week and a half to be off completely. At the end I was taking one every day, then one every 25 hours, then every 26, etc...then nothing! It worked.

    Don't feel guilty, after months of taking this stuff, there is a physical dependence. You are not an addict. An addict wouldn't have admitted to the Dr. or asked our advice. The next week or two might be hard if you try my approach--but you CAN do it. I remember during this period that last hour each time before I took a pill--honestly I was, as they call it, REALLY Jonesing for a fix. And I'd want to rip anyone's head off who looked at me sideways, including my family.

    Let us know how you do. I'm rooting for you, ok?
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    90
    Well, I am now sleeping with a 2-inch foam topper. It is very comfortable, but I don't feel it is helping me sleep. However, last night I took one Percocet, along with Neurontin, and that did a trick. I slept very well.

    Alas, I woke up with excruciating shoulder pain. Monday I'm planning on making an appointment with my orthopod. I didn't sleep on that shoulder so I'm not sure why it hurts this much. I've had injections in that shoulder before for bursitis so maybe that's what is going on. So, I'm sitting here with my morning coffee and a heating pad on my shoulder. Thank goodness I have Percocet because that has taken the edge off.

    Sally, I think my doctor will be increasing my Neurontin from the 300mg I'm now taking at night. I see you that you are taking much higher doses, and I suspect I'm going in that direction too.

    Karen
    Karen, 66 years "young"
    Polio at 6
    Diagnosed with scoliosis at school; no treatment
    Lumbar curve in 2005: 40; moderate pain
    Lumbar curve in 2009: 55; pain severe
    Lumbar curve after surgery: 21
    Surgeon - Dr. William Lauerman, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Three surgeries in one week:
    8/24/09 L3 to S1 anterior spinal fusion with Harm cage
    8/28/09 Posterior spinal fusion from T10 to S1 with instrumentation
    9/1/09 Partial revision of instrumentation


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tucson
    Posts
    8
    I have had trouble sleeping as well. I am fearful of addiction and took myself of the oxycontin (which I initally felt withdrawal from) at one month post-op. Then my Doc told me he wanted me on 2-3 percocet a day by 3 months post-op. I am happy to say I switched to hydrocodone ( I know it is similar) last week and seem to be doing okay. However, night time is awful. I wake up about 3 am and sometimes will stay awake for hours. The shoulders hurt as well. I tried melatonin it didn't seem to help. I drink chamomille tea every night. My sister in law said to try mid-nite some OTC herb mix. I haven't found it yet. I go to my Doc tomorrow for the 3 month appt and will ask him. Any other suggestions will help. I haven't tried heating pad but did use ice until the weather got cold.
    Kristi
    pre-op thoracic curve 75,lumbar 70
    Dr.Jeong Tucson AZ
    post fusion with arthroplasty (to get rid of rib hump)
    excellent correction-will have numbers tomorrow.

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