Spinal surgery is a serious process. It can drastically improve your quality of life, but you will need to follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter for the best chance of a successful outcome. You should receive their instructions in verbal or written form prior to surgery, but it can be a bit overwhelming. To help you tackle one part of those instructions at a time, let’s talk about sleep after your surgery. Let’s look at some sleeping tips for after spine surgery.
Sleeping Tips for After Spine Surgery: The Key Takeaway
The number one thing your spinal surgeon in Los Angeles wants is for you to keep your spine in a neutral position as much as possible. That means they don’t want you to put your spine into a position where it is at all strained. By keeping the spine well-supported in its natural position, you’re giving your spine the best chance of healing well and quickly. So what does that mean for sleeping?
Safe Sleeping Positions
Two sleeping positions are safe to use after having spinal surgery. On your back and on your side. Either side is fine, but there are specific steps you can take to make both positions more comfortable and better for your back.
On Your Back:
Sleeping on your back is often the best choice post-surgery. To make sure the position is comfortable, place a pillow underneath your head and neck for ideal support. It can be tempting to put your arms up, but this can strain your neck and cervical spine. Instead, keep your arms by your side. Lastly, prop a second pillow under your knees so that they’re slightly bent. This will relieve tension in your lower back.
On Your Side:
As long as you’re careful, sleeping on your side can be just as beneficial as sleeping on your back. You will need three pillows for this configuration, but it’s pretty simple. You’ll use the first to support your head and neck. The second should be pushed up against your back. Ask your support person to help you because this pillow will prevent you from shifting in your sleep. The last pillow goes between your knees, which should be parallel to one another to keep your spine in its happy place.
Both positions can be safe and comfortable. If you need more support, you can always use additional pillows under the advisement of your healthcare provider.
For the most part you should avoid switching positions if you can. Rolling can be challenging after spinal surgery, but if you really have to switch it up, use a log roll. To do this, you will roll your whole body together. The goal with a log roll is to keep the spine in a relatively neutral position the entire time. Do not twist or turn your spine during this maneuver.
You can use this same roll style to transition in and out of bed without straining your spine. To use the log roll this way, use one hand to support you as you lower yourself into bed or as you push yourself up from the bed. Your spine should be as straight as possible. If you need help initially, ask your support person to give you a hand.
The Specifics of Recovery
If you have decided to pursue disc replacement in Los Angeles, you’re probably already aware that it is a serious surgery that will take time to heal. You can expect between one and three months of total recovery, and you will have the support of your healthcare team the entire way. If you have any further questions regarding your recovery or safe sleeping practices, talk to your spinal surgeon.