Lumbar Fusion & Sleeping

Lumbar Fusion & Sleeping - Are they mutually exclusive?

I had L3, L4, & L5 fused on the 17th. So far, I can't sleep in a bed at all, and I have slept a maximum of 3 hours in a row in a recliner. Usually, I only stay asleep for an hour & a half to 2 hours at a time.

Any thoughts or suggestions, please?



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,471

    While I was in PT, a therapist taught me the importance of good pillows. I lay on my right side with a long pillow up against me so I can throw my leg over it. I also have one in my back to keep me from laying on my back, which for me was uncomfortable.  I still sleep this way because of all of the issues I have.

    Hopefully other members will have more suggestions.

  • I spent my recovery from a 10 level fusion sleeping on my couch.  I found the recliner impossible to sit/lay/sleep in.  It was too deep and required too much work from my recovering back muscles to get to a standing position when bringing the recliner back to its upright position.  The couch allowed me to push off the back (using my hand) to help me turn over, also could grab the edge of the cushion to help with changing positions.  Mostly slept on my back with pillows under my knees, then graduated to on my side with a pillow between my knees.  These pillow positions are actually the recommended positions for spine health.

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  • challengercchallenger Posts: 2,162
    edited 07/15/2019 - 10:54 AM

    I had the same levels fused as you, I was able to sleep in the bed about 3-4 hours per night for the first 3 weeks, I laid on my right side so that I could sit up when getting out of bed, I also had pillows arranged around me so I had extra support, I spent the rest of my time in a recliner, but I found that a rocker recliner was a big no no  when it came to getting up.

  • Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm still struggling. However, I ordered a body pillow & had my husband gather up all the bed pillows he could find in our house. I'm trying to find a way to sleep in the bed. No luck yet, but I'll keep trying. 

    challenger - I'm at 2 weeks post-op today. I hope the tide starts to turn for me as it must have for you at 3 weeks or so. I'm getting discouraged. I really appreciate any guidance and encouragement from you since we had the same levels fused. 

  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 818

    Hi Chelie

    T10 to S2/pelvis here.  it was about 6 weeks post surgery that i could sleep more than 2 hours at a time.  i had to get up and walk a little bit in order to quiet down my muscles.  My doctor put me on melatonin, which honestly got me TO sleep, but didn't keep me i finally just gave up and started napping and if i needed to walk, i would get up and walk.  I too found a long pillow along my back to stop me from turning onto my back really helped because i could actually get stuck and unable to roll over!  and keeping my head in a neutral position was very important for me, i had to switch to a much thinner pillow and still 2.5 years out use it when sleeping.  i did find that if i put a pillow between my knees it really helped.....i hope it gets better really really soon for you! 

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  • Chelie

    Hang in there it gets better with time.

  • Not perfect, but much, much better!

    I contacted the surgeon on the 5th about my sleeping problems, and they said to get in touch with my primary care, which I did on Monday, July 8. He prescribed Vistaril. It is an antihistamine prescribed for various and sundry problems. That night I was awake multiple times throughout the night, but was able to reposition and get back to sleep. Then,da-da-da-daaaa... (trumpet announcement sound), last night I slept for 5 hours!


       July 8 (3 weeks post op) - I spent a short, but tolerable night in bed (no switch to the recliner)

       July 11 (3 weeks + 3 days) - I slept enough consecutive hours to feel nearly human


    Thanks again for the encouragement & suggestions everyone. 

  • I am glad it is getting better, with time everything gets back to normal or at least somewhat normal

  • Chelie,  So glad you found something that works!  I have had sleeping issues due to migraine and some other pain issues for at least 15 years.  My MD gave me Vistaril 12 years ago and it still works all these years later.  I take 1-2 50mg tabs before bed.  I truly don't know where I would be without it.  I had tried all the traditional sleep meds like Ambien and they did nothing for me. 

    Its hard to heal right without quality sleep.  Glad things are looking up for you!


  • jhatprojjhatpro IllinoisPosts: 4

    I had L3-S1 fusion in 2017. Pillows helping with nocturnal pain but still wake up sore every two or three hours. Docs say I need another fusion at L2. Planning an XLIF this fall.

  • Fused T2-S1. We ended up investing in a sleep number bed about 3 years ago. When I was only getting a few hours sleep at a time. I had to do something! We got a bed with the head and feet adjustable, massage, and I have an extra heater/cooler on my side of the bed. Also, the pillows as everyone has been commenting on is a must! I have been doing extra pillows since 2005...I call it “nesting” cause with all the pillows it looks like a little nest. That way I have a pillow readily available anywhere I turn or move during the night! My amazing nurses in the hospital got me hooked on nesting after I had to spend 30 days in the hospital after some complications from my L1-S1 fusion. I am a big supporter of naps is really exhausting being tired all the time but unable to sleep, so I sleep anytime I can! Best of luck to you!! 

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