How to Sleep With an External Fixator?

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Written By Tony Garrett

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How to Sleep With an External Fixator?

Sleeping with an external fixator can be challenging due to the pain and limited mobility. However, there are several techniques that can help you get a restful sleep despite the device limitations. According to experts, finding the right sleeping position is crucial for comfort and support. Whether you are a back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper, there are strategies that can help alleviate some of the difficulties.

For back sleepers, using a wedge pillow with a squishy pillow on top can provide the best support. This combination helps cushion the body and reduce pressure on the fixator.

For side sleepers, there are a few options. You can wrap a thin pillow around the frame to create a barrier between the fixator and your body. Alternatively, you can place a pillow between the frame and the bed to provide extra cushioning. Some people also find that stacking pillows to keep the legs aligned helps improve comfort.

Sleeping on the stomach is possible but difficult. To do so, you’ll need to elevate the leg with the fixator using two pillows. This position requires careful adjustment to ensure your body is properly supported.

Investing in a memory foam pillow can also improve sleep quality. The contouring properties of memory foam help distribute weight evenly and relieve pressure points.

While these suggestions can be helpful, it’s important to allow yourself to get creative and find the position that works best for you. Every individual and their fixator situation is unique, so don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust as needed.

Tips for Daily Activities with an External Fixator

Living with an external fixator can pose challenges when it comes to performing daily activities. However, with some adjustments and tips, managing these tasks can become more manageable. Here are some practical suggestions to help you navigate daily life while wearing an external fixator:

Maintaining Proper Elevation

One crucial aspect to remember is to keep the affected extremity elevated above the level of the heart to reduce swelling. You can achieve this by using pillows or blankets for support. It’s important to maintain this elevation consistently when you are sitting, lying down, or even when performing tasks that require you to be on your feet for extended periods.

Moving with Caution

Moving the affected extremity should be done carefully, ensuring that both the leg and the fixator move as a unit to avoid putting stress on the fracture site. When transitioning between positions, such as standing up, sitting down, or using the toilet, it’s essential to take extra caution to prevent falls or accidents. Taking your time and prioritizing safety is key.

Adapting and Planning

Living with an external fixator may require you to adapt your daily tasks and routines. To minimize fatigue, plan your activities based on your energy levels and consider using aids such as wheelchairs or walking frames when needed. Additionally, you can make certain adjustments like using over-the-shoulder bags or rucksacks for carrying items, sitting to perform household tasks, and modifying clothing to fit comfortably over the frame.

Table: Tips for Daily Activities with an External Fixator

Situation Tips
Elevation Keep the affected extremity elevated above the heart level using pillows or blankets.
Movement Move the leg and the fixator as a unit to avoid stressing the fracture site. Take caution when transitioning between positions.
Adaptation Plan activities based on your energy levels. Use aids like wheelchairs or walking frames when needed. Modify tasks and clothing to accommodate the fixator.

By implementing these tips, you can navigate your daily activities with greater ease and minimize potential discomfort or challenges associated with living with an external fixator.

Living with an External Fixator: Considerations for a Full Lifestyle

When living with an external fixator, it is important to make adjustments and considerations in various aspects of your life. While the device may bring challenges, it is still possible to lead a fulfilling lifestyle. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Social Activities

Social connections are an important aspect of life, even with an external fixator. Despite the limitations, try to maintain regular interactions with friends and family. Consider participating in activities that you enjoy and that can be adapted to your current situation. This might include attending social gatherings, joining clubs or groups with shared interests, or even hosting small get-togethers at your home.

Traveling with a Fixator

While traveling with an external fixator may require extra planning and considerations, it is still possible to enjoy trips and explore new places. Before you travel, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you to do so. Consider the accessibility of your destination, including accommodation and transportation options. It may be helpful to inform airlines or other travel providers in advance about your condition, to ensure any necessary assistance or accommodations are available to you.

Returning to Work

Returning to work with an external fixator may require some adjustments and discussions with your employer and occupational health. Prioritize open communication to ensure that your needs are understood and accommodated. This might include modifying work duties or providing additional support and resources. Your healthcare provider can assist in providing documentation or recommendations to help facilitate the transition back to work.

Considerations for Living with an External Fixator
Social Activities Engage in regular social interactions and participate in activities that bring joy.
Traveling with a Fixator Plan ahead, consider accessibility, and inform travel providers about your condition.
Returning to Work Discuss with your employer and occupational health to adapt duties and ensure support.

Living with an external fixator may require adjustments, but it doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold. With proper planning, communication, and support, you can continue to enjoy social activities, travel, and engage in meaningful work.


Sleeping with an external fixator can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible to get a restful night’s sleep. By utilizing the right techniques and support, you can find a comfortable position that works for you. Remember to prioritize self-care and listen to your body’s needs.

Living with an external fixator requires some adjustments, but it’s crucial to maintain a sense of normalcy. By making necessary modifications to your daily activities and utilizing aids when needed, you can continue to carry out tasks and engage in social activities. Remember to plan ahead and take necessary precautions.

Managing a fixator while traveling may seem daunting, but with careful planning, it can be done. Consider comfort, access to medical services, and travel insurance. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure a smoother travel experience.

Overall, living with an external fixator may present challenges, but with the right mindset and support, you can navigate through this period of time. Remember to be patient with yourself and seek assistance when needed. By prioritizing your well-being and adapting to your circumstances, you will be able to manage the daily tasks and continue living your life to the fullest.

Tony Garrett

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