Sleepless Nights After Medical Procedures

Last updated: September 2022

If you’ve read my other articles, you will know that I live with a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. Not to go into too much detail but it causes chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and worst of all, chronic muscle spasms. These spasms are in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. These muscle spasms often play a role in my insomnia, as I've experienced sleeplessness after medical procedures.

Sleeplessness after medical procedures

Either I can’t get to sleep because of the pain, I can’t get my neck comfortable or what happens most is a muscle spasm will wake me up. I’ve been dealing with this for 2 years. For the past 2 years, I have tried many things to try to help them. Nothing has worked. I’ve been on different medications, tried acupuncture and physio, exercises, topical creams, ice, heat, and many more things that I have forgotten about.

My rheumatologist referred me to a pain management specialist at the beginning of this year. So far, I have been to 2 appointments.  The night before my appointment I could not sleep due to anxiety. My mind was full of negative thoughts that I could not manage. I was terrified, I didn’t know what to expect.

My first appointment:

Nothing could have prepared me for this appointment. I received over 10 steroid injections into my muscle spasms. And oh, I could never fully explain the pain that I went through. Injections are just injections, it doesn’t sound that bad right? But I can’t even touch my muscle spasms due to pain so being stabbed by big needles and having fluid go around my spasms was absolute torture.

Anyways, back to sleep. First off, steroids always cause sleep problems for me. I wrote an article about this that you can read here. But it wasn’t just the steroids keeping me awake. It was the pain.

I was in absolute agony for 2 to 3 weeks. My spasms were worse than ever. No matter what I tried, I could not get a night’s sleep. Or even a nap. Lying flat on my back hurt so much. My shoulders were covered in bruises and my spasms caused swelling on my neck and shoulders. Lying on my side hurt. Same when I tried to sleep lying on my stomach. I just couldn’t get comfortable, every position hurt. No wonder I couldn’t sleep.

After a couple of weeks, the pain had subsided, and I was back to my regular insomniac self. Unfortunately, the steroid injections didn’t work.

My second appointment:

Oh, the nerves I felt going into this appointment! Thankfully, my second procedure worked! I received many Botox injections into my neck and shoulders. This too was extremely painful. But it worked!

Like the steroid injections, I had a lot of pain after the procedure which affected my sleep. I was bruised and couldn’t get comfortable in bed. Two weeks after the Botox injection I developed a side effect which is called a ‘floppy neck’. This was a big obstacle for me – both in my daily life and when it came to sleep.

I could not hold my head up by itself for close to 3 weeks. This meant I spent a lot of time in bed lying down. Spending this much time in bed really caused me trouble when falling asleep at night. I was very uncomfortable which led me to be very frustrated. I couldn't use any pillows as this felt like I was straining my neck. I found it very hard to sleep without a pillow. I turn a lot in my sleep. When I finally did fall asleep, I would try to turn, and the pain would wake me up. Often, I woke up screaming and/or crying from the pain.

Regaining normal function

After several weeks, I regained my normal functioning neck, although it is a little weaker. I am back to sleeping how I used to, some nights still not sleeping great. Actually, overall, I am sleeping a bit better than before as thankfully the Botox has worked and my muscle spasms no longer wake me up at night. All the pain and side effects were worth it!

Here’s to more nights full of sleep.

Do you suffer from sleeplessness and insomnia after medical procedures? Please share a comment below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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