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Solution to back & shoulder pain creating inability to sleep?

I am a 45-yr-old managing lower back pain (spondylolysis + spondylolisthesis) for 30 years. As such, I have been sleeping on my sides for decades. I have been sleeping the past ~5 years on a 14"  Novaform memory foam mattress with a memory foam topper. Over the years, my shoulders have been waking me up more and more frequently due to pain. With an inability to sleep on my back & stomach, my quantity and quality of sleep continue to decline. A shoulder surgeon suggested I sleep on a recliner for 6 weeks (to reduce inflammation in my shoulders). I don't know if this will work. Plus, I can only imagine doing this with the assistance of some kind of meds / supplements:  vicodin + naproxen, CBD oil, cannabis oil - or a combination of these.

Any experience and/or suggestions to solve my night-time pains?


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762538 tn?1234371218
I have been sleeping in my recliner that goes almost flat for several years,  but I do not use it in the flat position.  I have chronic back pain and a chronic coughing so I cannot lie flat.  I take one temazepam and one dose of melatonin and that works for me to put me asleep.
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Avatar universal
I'm a little dubious about the recliner idea because of your lower back issues.  Unless it's a chair well designed for lower back pain, as a person who had lower back problems a couple of times (fixed them with physical therapy) I can't imagine that sleeping in a chair given after a while you're going to slump into odd positions will be great for the lower back.  The best thing to do with any type of pain is try to figure out why it hurts.  Then you might be able to fix it.  The longer you let an injury last the worse it gets and the more ingrained it gets.  I understand.  I had an awful and apparently permanent bad reaction to a med years ago that destroyed my nervous system and so I'm now scared of pretty much everything to the point where I stopped going to docs for pain.  Also the fact they weren't that great at diagnosing or fixing anything, but I'm unlucky.  You probably aren't.  So go get diagnosed.  Maybe it's rotator cuffs.  Maybe both the back and the shoulders are muscle related and can be worked back into good shape with some exercises.  I have two bad hips and a bad neck and a bad left arm, which is what happens when you're very active and a drug destroys your ability to sleep.  And so I know, I'm also a side sleeper, and I wake up a lot because of the drug and so I'm always lying on something that hurts.  Oddly enough, however, I did fix the lower back, and part of that was putting a pillow between my knees when I sleep.  Most of it was physical therapy.  Even if you have a problem with the lower back and also have a condition, it doesn't necessarily mean the condition is the source of your pain directly.  It might be indirect, as things you did caused muscle problems and while your condition may be hard or impossible to treat the muscles around the area aren't.  As for the shoulders, though, go to the orthopod, get MRIs, find out what's wrong with them, and go from there.  Because as long as they hurt and you have no problem for tackling the underlying cause of the pain you're pretty much stuck.  As I've learned.  Peace.
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Also, memory foam is hard.  It's not soft.  You might try out different mattresses and see if a softer one helps the shoulders, though, of course, that might not be great for the lower back but you don't sleep on your back.  
Thanks for the feedback and advice, Paxiled! I should have provided additional info in my post. I had right shoulder MRI, PRP injections and have been in physical therapy for several months - for both shoulders.  I have also been sleeping with a pillow between my knees, must be for 25+ years now.  I do have grave concern of back pain from sleeping in a recliner which is why I am looking in to what I can take to allow me to actually sleep in the recliner. I find planes awfully uncomfortable and realize this is a battle. I have also been managing my back issues for 30+ years, while there's also only so much that that helps, too.  

Re: mattresses, mine is probably medium firmness, but the memory foam topper is very soft so it's actually on the soft side. I have looked at other mattresses, including the one by Casper that says it has softer zones for areas like your hips and shoulders.

Thank you, again, and best of luck to you.

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