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How Will I Be Able to Sleep Comfortably After Back Surgery?

The road to recovery after any type of back surgery can be difficult, and one that intimidates many patients is the need to get enough restful, restorative sleep as they heal. Sleep is one of the key ways the body heals, but it can be difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position while you’re recovering from surgery and experiencing post-operative pain. Not only that, but certain sleeping positions can actually exacerbate back pain. The good news, of course, is there are sleeping positions to ease your back pain – it’s all a matter of protecting the spine and using cushions or pillows to support the natural curves of the spine.

Preparation to Take Before You Have Back Surgery

You’ll want to be prepared well ahead of the date of surgery for what sleeping will look like once you are discharged from the hospital. You’ll need to have the right pillows for your head as well as a pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees for sleeping on your back or between your knees if you sleep on your side. Having the right mattress is also important because the wrong type of mattress can reverse the benefits you could otherwise expect from the surgery. A medium-firm mattress should allow you a comfortable night’s rest.

What Is the Best Sleeping Position While I Recover from Spinal Surgery?

Although there are variations in recommendations determined by the location of the surgical site (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine regions), the advice in this blog is a guideline for what you can expect to hear from your doctor and not a substitute for your physician’s advice.

Choosing the correct sleep position, even if it’s one you’re not accustomed to, is essential to help align your hips, pelvis, and back. Doctors recommend sleeping on your back or your side as you heal from spine surgery. Sleeping on your belly is generally not recommended because your spine is not in a neutral position for a prolonged period. Consider wearing satin pajamas to bed to help it make it easier for you to adjust your sleeping position.

If you sleep on your back, you can elevate your upper back, shoulders, and head with a supportive pillow, and a pillow or rolled-up towel underneath your knees helps to relieve back strain. Avoid placing your arms overhead while you sleep as it can create tension to the back, neck, or shoulders.

Sleeping on your side is another way to ensure your back is properly supported. Using a pillow between your knees will support your spine, pelvis, and hips in a neutral position. To change positions to your other side, try to “log roll” rather than twisting your torso.

How Can I Get Out of Bed?

Using the log roll method can help you get out of bed more comfortably and safely. This technique involves side rolling your body and legs (with bent knees) over to the edge of the bed, then using your arms to gently press your body up as you simultaneously lower your legs to the floor. Reverse these steps to get in to bed. Making the effort to exhale during the movement phases will help you activate “core muscles” that will support your spine as well as relax you.

Contact Comprehensive Spine Institute for Relief from Back Pain

Our spinal surgeons at Comprehensive Spine Institute are invested in your swift recovery. Part of the onus is on you to be actively involved in your own healing. To learn more about how you can sleep better post-spine surgery, please contact us at (727) 300-2537 or reach out online for a quick reply.