HealthBoards (
-   Spinal Cord Disorders (
-   -   Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery (

deannette1 01-24-2007 04:17 PM

Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Hello all,
I'm a newbie here and after reading through some of the posts I wish I would have found this site before surgery. Brief summary: I've had neck and shoulder pain for 5+ years and finally found a doctor who was willing to help me. I was diagnosed with cervical kyphosis, 1 herniated disc , 1 bulging disc, myelopathy and degenerative disc disease. I'm 28 years old (yes pretty young to have all those problems)and had 2 level(c4/5/6) ACDF surgery with plating and screws on Dec. 4th. So far so good with minor problems. The biggest of my problems now are sleep deprivation.:yawn: I started out in the bed the first few days then went to the recliner for 5 weeks now back to the bed. Now when I awake in the morning my neck and both shoulders are stiff. When in the recliner I can't get to sleep until like 3am then up every so often readjusting. Well I got the okay today to go back to work on Monday and am kinda worried about how the lack of sleeep will effect me at work. What is a lady to do? Any tips or products that you found to work Please let me know.

SpineAZ 01-24-2007 06:04 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
I had a hard time sleeping while wearing the cervical collar for the first 6 weeks after the fusion surgery. You may want to see if your physician thinks a sleep aid for a small period of time may help (i.e. Ambien or Lunesta).

I found that for the first 12 weeks I was best sleeping on my back, with a pillow under my knees and my head aligned straight with pillows.

NYD 01-24-2007 06:22 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Get a hospital bed that you can put low to the floor, and lower/raise head and feet to whatever works for you.

I would not have been able to cope without.

Wedges, Foam and Heating Pads.

I had some heavy drugs as well. ;)

I'm at 8months Post Op. 100% better.


deannette1 01-24-2007 07:34 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Thank you kross and nyd. I wasnt required to wear a collar unless I felt the need to and it did help for a while. I wil try tonight to see how the pillow thing works. I had to resort to going back to my Vicodin last night just to get relaxed enough to sleep. I'm kinda scared about the sleeping pills so I'm going to go out tommorrow now that i can drive and see what i can find.

Glad to hear that you all are doing better can't wait to get to that point.


Melindafm 01-25-2007 10:11 AM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Are you taking any muscle relaxer at night? You may try at least half a tablet. I had my surgery just a few days before you (11/30) and I still take a muscle relaxer (1/2) at night. If I have major spasms I take a whole one. It makes me less sleepy than taking a pain killer. I finally got a very flat pillow and have little cushion on the mattress. I sleep with a pillow between my knees. Also if you can walk, walk, walk, this will tire you out hopefully and help relax you. I also lightly massage the top of my shoulders with menthol, emu oil salve right before laying down. You may also get some lavendar linen spray and soft music. Sometimes if you can distract your mind away from the surgery you will relax and fall asleep. Take it very easy going back to work. I went back after 4 weeks and it was hard but I am tired at night on the days I work. Best of luck.... I can't live without my sleep either.

icejohnb 01-25-2007 12:49 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Oh Yeah,
Sleeping problems!
I went for my 1st post op visit to the Neuro, and told him about not sleeping.
He told me that was normal. Lots of issues both mentally and physically.
Because these surgeries have become so successful. People forget that it is still major body trauma. Me for instance....
We tried the new non-narcotic sleep aids. Very pricey with little affect.
He than put me on Xanax. It didn't work like a charm, but it helped. I have a host of issues going on at this point.
Walking does help a great deal. You need too not overdo however. I find if I walk too much as I stated in a previous post. I'm down for a day or more.
I walk, meditate(actually I sit still and quiet) when possible. I have a pocket radio that I turn down to the point of just noise at night.
I am going to try a lavender or valerian sachet for my pillow this weekend.
I'll try anything at least once!

SKZ 01-25-2007 03:07 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Have you tried Lunesta, by any chance. It really is helping me.

Ramsfan 01-25-2007 05:02 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
For years I went through pillow after pillow without being able to sleep. Memory foam pillows didn't work for me. I tried making pillows with foam and cotton. They wouldn't last very long. 2 years ago I bought a load of foam micro beads and filled a king sized pillow case with them. I had to play around with the thickness of the pillow until I found what was most comfortable, but I still use the same pillow 2 years later. It has made a huge difference for me.

Good luck

deannette1 01-25-2007 06:36 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Thank you all for your comments. I do have flexiril for muscle spasms but never took them. Was kinda nervous about how i would react to it but, I think I might give it a try tonight. Also, I am going to go tommorrow and try the lavender spray at this point I'm willing to try any and everything. I did alot of walking today but found myself getting very tired and stiff so I guess I need to listen to my body and learn when enough is enough. I should be kinda happy that at least the pain that I had before surgery is gone now just dealing with this seems to be the only challenge. Does anyone know how long they say before your body really settles down after surgery?

Good nite all and thanks!

ember919 01-26-2007 11:36 AM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
You have my sympathy! Getting back to "normal" sleep was a long process. I can still remember how excited I was when I was first able to sleep laying down in my bed, and then again the first time I was able to sleep on my side.

Experiment with pillows and see if any of those help. I use a curved, memory foam pillow, but lots here seem to like the microbead pillows, too.

As suggested by others, prescription sleep aids may help and you can certainly use them on a short term basis. I use Ambien and it does not make me wake up groggy in any way. Muscle relaxers make a lot of people drowsy enough to help with sleep and taking those may help with your morning stiffness, too. Or you can take plain old Benadryl, which also causes drowsiness in many people and can (according to my doc) be taken safely as a sleep aid.

Good luck. Hope you are soon sleeping comfortably through each night.

julyg 01-26-2007 06:09 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Having had a 2 level fusion with all the hardware just recently I feel your pain!

This is how I sleep..... Flat on my back with a long wedge pillow with a thin flat "airline" pillow under my head with regular pillow under my knees. By airline pillow I am dead serious those flat little throw away pillows they give out (or some do) are perfect.

If you cannot find one, make one buying a bag of poly- fil. Those contour memory foam pillows just are too painful for me

Prior to surgery I was a side sleeper... couldnt do it now under any circumstance too painful on the side!

Drs. have told me I have lost the natural curve at my neck and it is stick straight...therefore discomfort and musle spasms etc.

bstinch 01-28-2007 11:53 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
you're not alone....after my fusion and partial paralysis, still haveproblems 10/06...good ole hydrocodone...not everynight, but occasionally. it seems that my siatticnerve(spelling?) really bothers my right leg now, regardless of elevation. i would wear soft collar at night; minimal movement at that time..rom my ns, check w/urs.....good luck; time and positivity wil help. bryan

~Ro 01-29-2007 07:01 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Since I didn't sleep much in the hospital or my first night home, I decided to take a sleeping pill called seroquel the past two nights, that my doctor, (not the surgeon) perscribed the week before the surgery since I had sleeping problems then too. Both nights I have taken it, I have been able to sleep 5 - 6 hours straight through, it has been heaven! I'm also lucky that my little tootsie roll pillow, with a nice sachet of lavender tucked in the case, (thanks to this thread) fits perfectly under my head to the mattress so I'm able to continue sleeping on my side. :-)

Now, if I can only make the pain medications last as long as the sleeping pill wants to. It's the pain that wakes me every morning. :-(

Best of luck to the sleepless

SKZ 01-30-2007 12:57 PM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
Oh man, NOW I am going thru the sleeplessness thing! I was sleeping well until the last week. I am almost 3 weeks post op. I take Lunesta. I fall asleep....wake up at about 3:30, then cannot get back to sleep and I end up lying there going nuts. Last night I decided to turn on the TV (hubby is in another room because he is disturbing me even more with his constant getting up and going to the bathroom). I couldnt fall back to sleep, so I took 2 Bendryls, which worked. I ended up falling asleep at 5AM and sleeping until about 9:30. I am a total zombie today from the Benadryl. I am thinking the problem could be one of 2 things: I was taking Vicodin and Lunesta after surgery and slept great. Now that I am not taking the Vicodin I am having issues. After all it really does knock you out. I feel like a drug addict. I have some Ambien (the new kind that is supposed to help you not wake up). I remember taking it about 9 months ago and I hated it. I may try it tonight, though. To top if off, I am taking a really strong antibiotic (1000 mg Augmentin) for that PESKY :mad: sinus infection I had when I went into surgery.....STILL. They upped the strength of it last week. That is when the sleeplessness started too. I am wondering if it could be the strong Augmentin. OYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

Melindafm 01-31-2007 05:51 AM

Re: Sleeping problems after ACDF surgery
SKZ:yawn: You poor thing. You will find that you will sleep (find good positions, etc.) really good for a few nights and then things adjust in your neck, etc. and you have a hard time for a few nights. I have changed pillows, bedding, beds and anything else I could think of to get a good nights sleep. Are you not taking any type of pain killer at night? It is good to be off of the Vicodin but you might still need some Tylenol. Tylenol now has an 8 hour pill. On bad nights I take one of them and a Tylenol PM (has the Benadryl in it). This has helped me. Benadryl makes me loony. I only can take 1. The Benadryl should be helping your sinus infection? Like you also said that antibiotic may really be upsetting your whole system. Your poor body is trying to fight off an infection and recover from surgery. Please take it very easy....

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:41 AM.