The first few days in your own bed after surgery are going to be somewhat difficult. In addition to being fatigued from some of the medications you’re likely to be given following spinal surgery, there’s the added challenge of finding a position that doesn’t present a risk of re-injury while sleeping.
Ironically, the best sleeping position after spine surgery is on your back. Place a pillow under your knees to contour your body to the natural curvature of your spine to further reduce the risk of post-surgery complications. Slightly elevated knees also reduce pressure on the cervical and thoracic spine. While sleeping, make an effort to:
• Keep your arms at your sides • Reduce movement as much as possible • Avoid any sudden turns or twists if getting up during the night
If you do find yourself changing positions, try to make a conscious effort to “log roll,” or move your entire body. Log rolling also helps when getting out of bed. Take the following steps to effectively log roll out of bed:
• Roll over to your desired side of the bed • Use the opposite arm to prop yourself up to a sitting position • Lower your legs to the floor and slowly assume a standing position
Mattresses that are firm or medium-firm tend to provide the right level of post-spine surgery support. If you have a mattress that’s too soft, consider using a latex mattress pad to add some firmness to your bed.
Avoid or limit daytime naps to ensure that you’re tired enough to get a good night’s sleep. Being naturally sleepy when you’re ready for bed can make it easier to get a more productive sleep following spine surgery, which also helps with healing.
Whether you underwent minimally invasive spine surgery or motion-preserving spine surgery, side sleeping is a no-no immediately after. However, stomach sleeping in an acceptable variation–as long as you place a pillow between your knees for added support. Sleeping in a reclining chair for the first few days after coming home or using an adjustable bed can also help minimize discomfort.
For those who have been unsuccessful in relieving their back pain with conservative treatments, talking to a spine surgeon in Beverly Hills might be the next step. Reach out to The Spine Center and request an in-person consultation with Medical Director Dr. Hyun Bae or one of the experienced spine surgeons on his team. Call (310) 828-7757 and take the first step to a pain-free life.