Managing pain from bed rest
February 28, 2018 6:40 AM   Subscribe

My mom had major surgery 3 months ago. The excessive bed rest and decrease in mobility is causing pain in other parts of her body. What can we do to help with this?

She had spinal fusion surgery, which has a long and painful recovery. The surgical site itself is healing well, as it should be. Slowly, but that's expected. What's difficult to manage is secondary pain, mainly related to sleeping.

She's lying down a lot of the time. Not full time, especially now 3 months out, but still, a lot. She's trying to resume her regular life, is doing small chores here and there, going to physiotherapy, doing exercises at home. But she still tires or gets sore easily and needs to rest a lot.

She cannot sleep on her back for very long. Lying on and sleeping on her sides as much as she has been is causing a lot of pain in her shoulders, hips and thighs. I'm sure this is a common side effect of having to take a lot of bed rest, but I can't seem to google for it properly. Any resources, tips, advice for managing this would be appreciated.

Currently using: ice packs, cooling gel (provided by physiotherapist), pillow between legs. Tried a firmer mattress, tried a softer mattress; firmer seems a bit better but no marked improvement.
posted by yawper to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An at-home assessment by an occupational therapist (they do home visits!)
will help you choose things like

- positioning aids
- pressure relief mattresses

There are lots of options, but they can be $$$, so you don't want to buy the wrong product and not be able to afford to replace it.
posted by Murderbot at 7:03 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

The key word you want for googling is "pressure relief".
posted by Murderbot at 7:04 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

A few decades ago when I was a nurse assistant one of the things we were taught to do (when prescribed by the actual nurses) was "range of motion exercises" for people experiencing the effects of long-term bed rest. (So that might be a good keyword; the Wikipedia article I link to there isn't particularly helpful.)

Ten years ago when I a relative had some serious medical problems, I was finding full nursing textbooks on Google Books. There's PubMed Central as a source for medical journal articles, though that's usually more scientific and academic information as opposed to the practical care information I was finding in the nursing textbooks.
posted by XMLicious at 7:17 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding an OT assessment. Her PT or her surgeon’s Office should be able to coordinate for her. OTs will evaluate and make personalized recommendations for assistive devices for her.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:03 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

My mom had two spinal fusion surgeries last summer (cervical spine in June '16 and lumber spine in October '16). She also has problems with her hips to where she gets stiff and sore if she sits still or lays down for too long.

She says yoga helped a lot. Stretching. Sitting in a recliner rather than laying down (or sideways on the couch propped up with pillows). Walking. She didn't do very much bed rest. I think she was in a rehab facility for a couple weeks where they had her working with a PT a couple times a day and she walked the halls. When she got home she kept moving.

It may be that your mom needs to move more, not less, considering that she's getting stiff and sore from staying still. I understand that she's tiring easily. Check out chair yoga or stretches for office workers that she can do that won't tire her out. And love to your mom. The spinal fusion was a lifesaver for mine. Before she had them she could barely walk or use her she's almost back to normal.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

(Lumbar, not lumber. Sorry, I'm a woodworker.)

Also is your mom seeing a pain management doctor for medication? Is she able to and thus is she taking ibuprofen regularly? Because that's been my mom's lifesaver. She's also been taking duloxetine for neuropathic pain (she was taking gabapentin, but that was causing cognitive weirdness and balance issues) and that's helped a lot as well.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:32 AM on February 28, 2018

There are ideas here - nthing OT/PT assessment as to which are appropriate, but she should be able to start with just a few minutes of something and build from there. More possibilities to discuss here. I would think that resistance bands would be great for this...there are lots of gentle stretches you can do with their assistance. Starting small I think is key, just maybe 5 minutes, and building from there so she doesn't get exhausted. Yoga might eventually be good, but does require balance she might not have at this point.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 8:37 AM on February 28, 2018

Can she do light pilates? Strengthening in addition to yoga and stretching might be helpful. It's amazing how much a small amount of targeted exercise can help.

Side sleeping can be really uncomfortable if it's not your natural default. One thing that may help her sleep better/more comfortably is a wedge pillow. It's marketed for pregnancy, but helps keep your body supported and, well, wedged in place.
posted by onecircleaday at 12:47 PM on March 1, 2018

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