What to expect after cervical (neck) surgery

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

If you have undergone a traditional open neck surgery, your recovery period will look different than patients who undergo minimally invasive cervical 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 leave patients at an increased risk for infection and surgical complications.

However, if you have undergone minimally invasive cervical surgery at Laser Spine Institute, you are able to return home within hours of your surgery. 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 your neck pain has persisted through several weeks of conservative treatments, and your physician 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.

  • 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.

Alternatives to traditional open neck surgery

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.

Our minimally invasive spine surgeries offer a shorter recovery time* and a higher patient satisfaction rate (97%) than traditional open neck surgery. Call today for more information and for a review of your MRI or CT scan.