What to expect after cervical spine surgery

Recovering after a cervical (upper) spine surgery can be difficult because it requires patience and diligence in order to promote a healthy healing process.

Those undergoing a traditional open neck surgery can expect to experience differences in the recovery period compared to minimally invasive cervical spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.^ After a traditional open neck surgery, you will be required to stay in the hospital for the first few days following the surgery. This is because the highly invasive techniques used during a traditional open neck procedure mean an increased need to monitor patients for infection and surgical complications.

However, if you have undergone minimally invasive cervical surgery at Laser Spine Institute, you will experience a streamlined outpatient procedure. Though you may be a little sore at the incision site for a few days after surgery, your recovery period will likely be shorter^ than patients who had traditional open neck surgery.

What to expect after traditional open neck surgery

If symptoms related to a cervical spine condition have persisted through several weeks of conservative treatments, and your doctor has recommended traditional open neck surgery as an option, you should research what to expect after cervical surgery before you agree to move forward with the procedure. Considerations for the recovery process include:

  • Recovery. Immediately following traditional open spine surgery, a patient will receive pain medication intravenously. In most cases, a patient is also hospitalized for one or more days for observation. This is to ensure that the patient doesn’t develop any postoperative complications such as infection or clotting and doesn’t immediately reject any graft or implant that may have been implanted.
  • 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 that causes tissue damage. 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.

Minimally invasive surgery for the cervical spine

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, including a shorter recovery time than traditional procedures and a patient satisfaction score of 96.^

Call today for more information and for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.