What to Expect After Cervical (Neck) Surgery

Neck Surgery

As with any major operation, the hours and days after cervical (neck) surgery can be difficult. Traditional open spine surgery is an extremely invasive procedure that requires hospitalization, lengthy recovery and intense rehabilitation. As this can be a trying time, it is extremely helpful to go into neck surgery in the proper mindset with realistic expectations for the procedure.

What’s in store?

If your neck pain has persisted through several weeks of conservative treatments, and your physician has recommended traditional open neck surgery as an option, you owe it to yourself to know what to expect after cervical, or neck, surgery.

  • Recovery – immediately following traditional open spine surgery, a patient will receive pain medication intravenously. In most cases, a patient is also hospitalized for several days for observation. This is to ensure that the patient doesn’t develop any postoperative complications (infection, clotting, etc.) and doesn’t immediately reject any graft or implant that was installed.
  • Diet – for the first day or two, patients can expect to mainly eat ice chips and fluids. Solid food is slowly introduced after 36 hours.
  • Rehabilitation – the rehabilitation process can be the difference between a successful surgery and a failed procedure. Physical therapy may begin in the hospital and can last for months to ensure a patient fully regains back the strength in his or her neck.
  • Discomfort – traditional open spine surgery requires a relatively large incision either at the front or back of the neck, tissue damage and permanent alteration of the spinal anatomy. As a result, a patient can expect a degree of pain after any neck operation. In the days following the operation, a patient will be prescribed pain medication and instructed on effective pain management techniques.

What else is there?

If you are worried about the challenges after cervical neck surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that offer an alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Call today for more information and for a review of your MRI or CT scan.