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Side sleeper with tense back muscles - Help!

StillNotGinger Member Posts: 2

I can't remember ever being anything but a side sleeper. I have a lot of tension in my upper back, which can obviously affect my lower back. Sleeping on my side with a thin pillow between my legs is most comfortable for me. Sleeping on my back tends to exacerbate any pain I have in my lower back. I also have problems falling and staying asleep. I take Ambian.

How do I train myself to sleep on my back? My surgery (DIEP - both breasts) could happen anytime in the next 2-3 weeks. I'm terrified of rolling over and damaging my reconstructed breasts. Any ideas? I know I can use regular pillows to put around me, but does that work if all your body wants to do is roll over on your side while sleeping?

The tension is my upper back is pretty bad. Sometimes it feels like one giant knot. Foam rolling helps (it hurts SO much, but it helps), but that's obviously not going to be an option right after my surgery. I have managed to pull muscles in my upper back during my sleep (also while awake, but doing it in my sleep is particularly irritating). If you have/had back issues before your surgery, how did you deal with it after surgery?

Thanks for any help!


  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178

    Do you have a recliner you can sleep in for a few days or weeks? I’m a side sleeper too. Nothing else works for m

  • dancemom
    dancemom Member Posts: 404

    I am a side sleeper with a pillow between my knees too. I used to be a stomach sleeper but 3 kids later I got used to being on my left side most of the time. Sleeping semi reclined on a wedge with pillows on either side keeping me in a valley, and my head nestled in the hole of a neck-pillow (like the kind you use on an airplane) has helped. I still sometimes tried to move, but the pull on drains reminded me not to!!!!

    I have a lot of back issues stemming from scoliosis, hyper mobility and shallow hip sockets which throws out my rt knee so it balloons. I've been in and out of PT for ages. Generally, as long as i do all my back/core excersises most days, I was ok. I did that up until surgery. It has been 3 weeks and while I am feeling exponentially better each day (yay, I can now raise my arm sorta over head- ish almost), my alignment issues are creeping back. Do your deep core excersises religiously (pilates 100s are my most important) and it will help stabilize things for a while.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,156

    Like DanceMom - I had a small wedge and several pillows on each side so I wouldn't roll by mistake. I don't think I ever did.

    The ironic part is after enforced back sleeping through two sets of treatments, although I still go to sleep on my side, I wake up on my back fairly often. Oh no - because my mouth is open & I'm snoring & I have severe dry mouth.

  • simonerc
    simonerc Member Posts: 154

    imageThis is what I bought. Really worked well for me. I have no connection with this company or product. I wound up having 4 surgeries. Could not have managed sleeping on my back while at an elevated incline (not flat) without it! If I just tried the sofa or a single wedge pillow I would have slid down to flat, as nothing to prevent that. And my sofas are too narrow to have pillows on side for arm support. Good luck! Hopefully you find something that works.

  • Mememee
    Mememee Member Posts: 33

    hi, I understand the issue. After surgery, you need to stay propped up (my dr said I couldn’t lay flat for 4-6 weeks) and no side sleeping. Like you, I was not sure how I could do that. I read a blog that had the perfect suggestion, rent a hospital bed. I had mine for 6 weeks. It was a life saver. We kept the top of the bed elevated and I tucked to small pillows by my sides. The other benefit was being able to have my feet on the ground to get out of bed. It didn’t cost too much for the bed rental. Some insurance companies will pay for it, might need a letter from the plastic surgeon. We spent around $250/ month for the bed. Best of luck!


  • dancemom
    dancemom Member Posts: 404

    Stillnotginger what did you do in the end? I have diep recon next month, and now I am not so sure the method I used after mastectomy will be enough. I am afraid of trying to sit up or get up with the abdominal incision. I don’t have room for a hospital bed, so I am hoping the wedges and pillows will suffice again.