Post-Operative Care: Neck Surgery

Use these guidelines to speed your recovery from spinal surgery of the neck.

Activity

  • Plan to rest for the first 24-48 hours following discharge from the hospital.
  • Avoid excessive bending, twisting, pushing, pulling, or lifting anything more than 10 pounds for the first week.
  • If you were fitted with a neck brace or soft collar, please wear it for most of the day when you are active for a total of 6 weeks. You may remove it at night, for showers/baths, and when you are relatively inactive around the house.

Incision care and dressings

  • Please change your dressings with sterile gauze once a day until your wound is completely dry (i.e., when there is absolutely no drainage on the dressings).
  • Although you may start taking showers when your wound is completely dry (approximately 3-5 days), do not keep your incision submerged in a bathtub until the wound is healed over (approximately 2 weeks).
  • If you have Steri-Strips on your incision, allow them to fall off on their own.
  • If you have Dermabond (“sterile super glue”) on your incision, it will likely begin to peel off by itself after 1-2 weeks.
  • You may apply an ice pack to the surgery site for 20 minutes three times a day for comfort and to reduce swelling.

Diet

  • You may resume your normal, pre-operative diet as tolerated.
  • Pain medications and decreased activity can cause constipation. To prevent this, eat foods high in fiber and drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. If needed, take an over-the-counter stool softener if one was not prescribed for you. Your bowels should be working normally within 3-5 days of surgery.
  • Foods high in protein and vitamin C can also aid the wound healing process. Please take 500mg of oral vitamin C twice a day for 3 months to aid in the wound healing process.
  • If you had a fusion, your diet should contain 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily to optimize conditions for adequate fusion. If you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, you should take 1,500 mg of oral calcium every day. Please check with your physician if you have a history of kidney stones.

Medications

  • Prescribed medication(s) should be taken only as directed. Take all medication with food in your stomach unless otherwise directed. If you experience any itching, or other abnormal reaction to the medication, discontinue the medication and contact our office.
  • As your pain lessens, you should decrease the amount of pain medication you are taking. We suggest that you substitute the narcotics with over-the-counter Tylenol as your pain level decreases.
  • If you have not started weaning yourself off of your narcotic medications at the time of your follow-up appointment, we will then discuss the weaning process. Do not stop taking your narcotics abruptly since this may cause withdrawal side effects.
  • Narcotic pain medications will not be refilled after normal working hours (8:30-5:00, Monday-Friday) or on weekends.
  • Do not drive if you feel any sedation from your pain medications.
  • If you had a fusion, do not take anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®), or naproxen (Aleve®) as they are known to inhibit bone healing.

Symptoms to report to your doctor

  • Shortness of breath, inability to swallow, or chest pain.
  • Bleeding, drainage, redness or swelling from your incision area.
  • Feelings of flu-like symptoms (e.g., nausea, general body aches, or temperature over 100 degrees for longer than 24 hours).
  • Any change in sensation of your arms, hands, legs or feet (e.g., increase in numbness, tingling, or pain).
  • Any loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Frequent need to urinate small amounts of urine or feeling of bladder distention.
  • If you experience pain, swelling, and/or redness behind your knees or calves, call our office immediately or go to your nearest emergency department as these can be symptoms of a blood clot in your legs.

Follow-Up Appointment

Reminders for Patients Who Had a Fusion

  • If you had a fusion, your diet should contain 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily to optimize conditions for adequate fusion. If you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, you should take 1,500 mg of oral calcium every day. Please check with your primary care physician if you have a history of kidney stones.
  • Do NOT take anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve) as they are known to inhibit bone healing.
  • Do NOT smoke or use other tobacco products for at least 3 months (ideally quit altogether) since nicotine inhibits wound and bone healing. Use of products containing nicotine significantly increases your risk for wound and fusion complications.

ProOrtho Medical Specialties

Latest ProOrtho News

  • I need to work on my posture to prevent this pain

    Elevate Your Home Office Experience For Pain-Free Workdays

    Attention work-from-home and hybrid-work warriors! We get it—that relentless backache, the stiff neck, the sharp knee pain (where’d that come from?) and the overall feeling of being trapped in your own home office can be a real downer. But fear not, because here at ProOrtho we’ve got your back. Check out these simple tweaks to …

  • Osteoarthritis in Your 20s

    Osteoarthritis in Your 20s and 30s Is a Real Thing

    It’s time to break the age barrier on joint health, because osteoarthritis (OA) isn’t reserved for the golden years. And that’s not great news. In the dynamic realm of health, young adults can also find themselves face to face with OA, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies as the most common form …

  • Hikers Look At View of Snow Covered Pacific Northwest

    Enjoy Your Favorite Winter Sports Safely So You Can Always Come Back For More

    Here at ProOrtho, we know the happiest people during the slightly-less-than-fair-weather winter months of Western Washington tend to be those who: (a.) fly to warmer climates sometime before June, and/or  (b.) thoroughly enjoy winter snow sports. Sadly, we’re not here today to talk about tropically flavored poolside cocktails or the joys of beachcombing (maybe we …

Locations

Business Office

Surgery Center

MRI

Stay Connected

A Service of Proliance Surgeons


We’re a part of Proliance Surgeons, a team of independent, physician led care centers dedicated to providing exceptional outcomes, personally delivered.