Is every tiny movement from your waist down causing you agony? It’s likely you have just had a hip reconstruction. If you are recovering from surgery, an abduction pillow can help keep you supported and comfortable throughout the night.
What is an abduction pillow?
While abduction may seem like a fancy scientific word, it is incredibly simple to understand.
Imagine that there is a line drawn straight down your body from head to toe. Abduction refers to moving your limbs away from this line. Lift your arm up right now. That is abduction.
To put it simply, abduction means to move away from the center of your body.
An abduction pillow is a foam block that holds your legs or arms in an abducted position. The pillow prevents your arms or legs from moving back into their natural flat laying positions, effectively immobilizing the limb while keeping it supported yet comfortable.
You may have heard abduction pillows referred to as ‘adduction pillows’. This is actually incorrect, since adduction would be keeping your legs closed, close to that imaginary line down the center of your body.
Why do you need an abduction pillow?
Now you may be thinking:
A pillow that holds your legs or arms open? That can’t be comfortable…
And you would be right, abduction pillows are used as a necessity rather than comfort. Abduction pillows are used recovering from medical procedures where movement may result in further injury or delayed recovery.
While you may think you lay still in your sleep, your body has other ideas. You very likely toss and turn throughout the night. Obviously this movement would not only be painful enough to wake you from your slumber but can even prevent your body from healing properly.
Medical procedures and injuries where abduction pillows are often recommended include:
- Shoulder Surgery – Rotator cuff, shoulder replacement and shoulder stabilization surgeries.
- Hip Surgery – Hip Replacement, Hip resurfacing, Hip fracture surgeries.
- Arthroplasty – Resurfacing of damaged surface of joints
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) – useful for patience who suffer from leg spasms and other involuntary movements
As you can see, abduction pillows are used out of necessity rather than choice.
Types of abduction pillows
There are two common types of abduction pillows. One for your shoulder and one for your hips.
1. Hip Abduction pillow
A hip Abduction pillow is a triangular foam wedge that sits between your legs. Running from your crotch to your calves, the wedge is contoured so that it sits close to your skin.
Soft traps wrap around the abduction pillow locking your legs into place and suppressing movement; even involuntary movements in your sleep. While some abduction pillows only have a single set of straps, the most supportive models have two sets. One that wraps around the thighs while the other attaches to your ankles.
It is important to consider that hip abduction pillows are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some people have long giraffe legs. Others have short stumps. Because of this it is important that you measure your legs to find the appropriate sized abduction pillow for you.
2. Shoulder abduction pillow
A shoulder abduction pillow is essentially a sling with a pillow behind it, to prop your arm off your body.
Straps loop over your shoulder and around your waist to brace your arm into position. When properly warn, you should be unable to move your arm.
Shoulder abduction pillows also come in multiple sizes, so be sure to choose one that is height appropriate.
Some Bad News About Abduction Pillows
Well, it’s only bad news if you sleep on your stomach or side…
Abduction pillows work best when sleeping on your back. Because they separate your legs like a starfish, they are not suitable for side sleeping positions.
While stomach sleepers can still use an abduction pillow, doctors typically recommend sleeping on your back during the recovery process. Unfortunately, this is an annoyance you will have to wait out. But it will be more than worth it when you have properly recovered from your injury.
But all is not lost. If you are a side sleeper looking for a spread legged solution then you should check out Knee Pillows. This comfortable contoured pillow allows you to sleep on your side while keeping your legs separated, even in the fetal position.
having trouble sleeping on your back? Here are some tips to training yourself to back sleep.
When do I stop using an abduction pillow?
Recovering from injury is one of the worst feelings you will experience in life. While your brain is saying “I can move as well as a teenager”, your body has other ideas.
While that abduction pillow may be preventing you from sleeping naturally, it is a vital ingredient in your bodies recuperation.
Because of this, it is best to consult with your health care practitioner as to when you should discontinue use.
Have you ever needed an abduction pillow? Let me know in the comments section below