9 days Post ACDF, advice on pillows/sleeping?

I am 9 days Post-op from 5/6- 6/7 ACDF and doing pretty good. However , I CANNOT get comfortable in any sort of sleeping position. i have tried multiple pillows, sleeping in the recliner and neither works. When I do fall asleep in bed, I wake up 5 hours later and cannot get back to sleep because I am so uncomfortable.

I am thinking about buying one  of those wedge pillows that will elevate me. I don't know if anyone has tried one of these?

All I know is that I'm missing out on some very important sleep. I tend to sleep on my back or my side. But when I wake up after sleeping on my back I have very bad headaches and shoulder pain. If I try to sleep on my side, my head feels like it's too heavy.

Any advice would be appreciated!


  • I know you've tried multiple pillows (but just in case...) - what works for me is an old pillow that is really flat - while lying on my back. Even the fairly thin one I was using before surgery (C5/6 fusion in june) hurt the tops of my shoulders. I also have to play around with my arm/shoulder positions - though this is partly because of an old upper back injury.  I also only put my head on the pillow, not my neck. 

    Good luck!! (Also you are still very early on, so hopefully this will get better over time...)
  • Thanks! I'm a little confused though, because I know we're supposed to be elevated, but I cannot do it. I am going to try to sleep on my side tonight on a much flatter pillow and see how it goes.
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  • Did your surgeon tell you that? I wasn't told anything about being elevated. I also had a neck collar for the first 5 weeks that I had to sleep in. I'm not sure, but I would think if you side sleep then you want to be careful with a flat pillow as it might end up bending your neck downwards... 
  • RickallenRRickallen MichiganPosts: 85
    I was told to sleep on my side with a pillow in between my knees.or on my back with a pillow in under my knees.I tos and turn so I know how hard it is.extra pillows helps a lot to put up under head .
  • I think the point of elevation is to help with the swelling? I can't sleep in a collar, I've tried both. The soft collar digs in to the back of my neck and makes it ten tiimes worse. The hard collar creates pressure as well. What I tried the past few nights is using my regular pillow and sleeping on my back (which I usually do) then, I usually wake up on my side. The height of the pillow keeps my neck fairly  neutral. I have been sleeping much better. It also helps that I don't move much in my sleep.
    TWO weeks today!!! I see my Dr on Friday.
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  • Glad you seem to be getting the sleeping sorted! hope the drs visit went well.
  • What worked for me was propping myself up with pillows behind me and under my arms. I am 7 months recovery from my 3 surgery Posterior Laminectomy with fusion C4-7 and I still sleep in a soft collar. Sleeping is the hardest part of my recovery ! Good Luck !
  • I use a body pillow-it's like a big horse shoe. Pretty useful imo.:)
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