What To Expect After Cervical Spine Surgery

YOU SHOULD REPORT ANY BREATHING DIFFICULTIES OR DRAINAGE FROM YOUR INCISION TO YOUR PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY. YOU SHOULD ALSO REPORT ANY FEVERS, CHILLS, NAUSEA, VOMITING OR NIGHT SWEATS TO YOUR PHYSICIAN.

Generally, after neck surgery, we keep you in the hospital overnight. You will have a drain in your neck that will be removed by our staff in the morning. In most cases, we will send you home the day after surgery, and we will ask you to keep the dressing on your neck for 48 hours from the surgery date. (For example, if your surgery is on Monday, you can remove your dressing Wednesday morning.)

IT IS NORMAL FOR YOUR NECK PAIN TO GET WORSE FOR 3-5 DAYS AFTER SURGERY. PLEASE TAKE YOUR MEDICATIONS AS INSTRUCTED DURING THIS TIME.  STOOL SOFTENERS ARE ALSO ADVISED FOR THE FIRST 3 WEEKS AFTER SURGERY.  ANY OVER-THE-COUNTER STOOL SOFTENER IS APPROPRIATE.

Steri-Strips will cover your incision. These are small rectangular bandages that remain on your incision for seven days.   For example, if your surgery is on Monday, you should keep the Steri-Strips in place until the following Monday at which time they may be removed. IF YOU HAVE VISIBLE SUTURES YOUR DOCTOR WILL REMOVE THESE.

You can shower 24 hours after the drain is removed. Do not to take a tub bath, swim in a pool, or soak in a hot tub until given permission to do so by your physician.

After neck surgery, you will be given a collar to wear for comfort for approximately three weeks. You do not need to wear the collar while sleeping, eating or showering. Driving is not permitted until your physician gives you permission, usually three weeks after your surgery.

You may experience some numbness and tingling underneath your chin or around your incision, and your incision may be very sensitive. You may also have some temporary swallowing difficulties or hoarseness of voice. This is all very common after surgery.

We recommend that you take the prescription medication given to you only if you are having pain. We do not recommend narcotic prescriptions beyond three weeks.

If you were on blood-thinners prior to surgery such as Plavix, aspirin or Coumadin  please discuss with your physician when you may resume these medications. Generally they can be resumed in 5-7 days after surgery however, do not resume these unless instructed by your physician.

If you undergo a fusion, please note that anti-inflammatory medications, which include Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, Naprosyn, Diclofenac (Toradol), Celebrex (Celecoxib), Mobic (Meloxicam) and aspirin, are not recommended for THREE MONTHS after your surgery.  These medications can inhibit the fusion we are trying to achieve.  The ONLY exception to this is  aspirin(81mg).  If you were on this prior to surgery you may resume this medication three days after your procedure.

Your first postoperative appointment will be approximately three weeks after your surgery.  In some instances you may be given a prescription for a 10-day post-operative physical therapy visit.  Please attend this visit.  It is important to your overall recovery.

Lifting will be restricted to 10 lbs for the first three weeks after surgery. At your three-week follow-up visit, your physician will give you further instructions.

We encourage you to walk as much as possible without restriction. We encourage you to walk one mile per day by three weeks after your surgery. You may climb stairs without restrictions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact The Reading Neck & Spine Center at 610-372-1140.