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If you consider undergoing a back or spinal surgery like spinal fusion, spinal disc replacement, vertebral decompression, discectomy, and lumbar spine surgery, know that recovery can be a challenging journey sometimes. Getting your body to rest following surgery is crucial if you are anxious to feel pain-free back. 

Once you are home from back surgery, in addition to receiving discharge instructions and prescriptions, you must also prepare for other practical aspects. One should know how to sit and how to sleep after a back surgery because they play a vital role in the recovery process.

One of the most challenging aspects is to bending forwards. By and  large people who develop intolerance or sensitivity of the back while bending forwards should use the hip joints for bending and spare the spine.

The right way to sleep after back surgery

The best position to sleep in after spine surgery is lying flat on your back, placing a pillow below your knees or lying sideways with a pillow between your bent knees. If you find lying on your side the most relaxing, make sure both legs are one above the other with your knees bent. Also, make sure the top leg is pointed forward lightly.

Make sure your top knee does not rest on the bed and your arms should not be under your head and neck while you sleep. You can keep this position from slipping out by placing a pillow behind the body and tucking it underneath the hips and back. When you are sleeping on your back, don’t keep your arms on your forehead because it exerts too much strain on your shoulders and neck. 

Both these side and back sleeping positions help to reduce the pressure on your spinal discs and low back. You should avoid sleeping on your stomach.

After surgery, patients may find it difficult to change their position in bed. You should always use the log roll technique when turning in bed to reduce discomfort. It means while you are rolling from one side to the other and onto your back, ensure you keep your back straight and avoid twisting.

Log rolls are also useful for getting in and out of your bed. If you want to get out of bed on your right side – roll to the right side and push up onto the right elbow with your left hand. Sit up slowly by lowering your lower legs from the bed while you push yourself up onto your right hand. Place both feet down on the ground after reaching the bed’s edge. Come to a standing position by using your legs, not your back. 

The mattresses you sleep on also matter after having back surgery. Back surgery results can be reversed if you sleep on the wrong type of mattress. So choose a mattress designed to minimize the pressure points and supports your spine alignment post-surgery. The firmness of the mattress you use should alleviate pain and stiffness while you sleep.

The right way to sleep after back surgery

It can be painful after surgery to sit for long periods because sitting places more stress on your back. It’s important to hold your spine comfortably in its position when you sit to minimise back strain because slouching and sliding down from your seat can cause additional stress.

Slouching can be prevented by keeping your shoulders, hips, and ears aligned. Ensure that you have the right type of chair. You should select a chair that provides adequate lower back support and lets your feet rest flat on the floor and your knees should be positioned at the same level as your hips. Do not sit on a soft chair or couch after surgery, because your hips fall below your knees.

To maintain proper sitting posture, rest your feet on a small stool or box if a chair is too high for you. Stand up frequently (every 30 to 45 minutes) and stretch your muscles.

Sitting at the desk after surgery

It’s better to sit in a rotating chair after surgery while working to prevent twisting your body to reach objects.

Move your body as one unit if you need to turn. You shouldn’t move with your foot and hips facing in different directions. Avoid holding the receiver with your head tucked over the shoulders while talking on the  phone. Hold the phone with the elbow resting on the desk or armrest, and keep your neck straight as you use it. Using a headset is another better option if you are frequently on the phone. 

It is advisable to keep items within easy sight and reach, and the keyboard right in front of you. Books that are heavy should not be kept on shelves above your head height. 

The right way to get in and out of a chair or car

People may find it difficult to get in and out of a car or a chair after back surgery. The easiest way to get up from a chair is to slide to the edge and lift yourself up from the chair with your knees and hips straight. Placing one foot in front of the other might also help in some situations. If you sit in a chair with armrests, use your hands to support yourself, and keep your posture straight. You should avoid bending backwards or leaning forwards too much.

To get into a car, sit at the edge, lower yourself onto the seat and slowly scoot back, then bring in one leg at a time. Follow the reverse sequence to get out of the car.

To know more detailed information about the precautions to be taken after spine surgery for faster recovery, consult Dr. Surya Prakash, one of the best spine surgeons in Hyderabad. He helped thousands of patients suffering from back problems in his twenty years of experience as a spine doctor. Call +91 9848024699 to book an appointment with the doctor.

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