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Cervical Spine Surgery

The majority of people who undergo cervical spine surgery experience good to excellent results following the operation. Most people will experience significant relief of pain both in the neck and the radicular pain into the shoulder and arm. The goal of the majority of cervical spine operations is the successful return to the activities of daily life. Although many patients see and feel immediate benefits, they need to experience a comprehensive rehabilitation program for several months to obtain the total treatment of healing.

1.Hospital Stay

The type of cervical spine procedure that was performed will determine how long you will need to stay in the hospital and how much assistance you may need shortly after surgery. Many procedures on the cervical spine might only require one or two nights in the hospital.

2.After Surgery Care

Under the supervision of a physical therapist you may sit on the edge of the bed and stand with support. You will most likely be wearing some type of cervical brace you return from surgery. You will need to keep this in place unless specifically instructed to remove it by your surgeon. While patients are often encouraged to stand and sit (with assistance if needed) within twenty-four hours after surgery, walking is approached gradually and in a guided manner to avoid injury and complications. Try not to over-do it the first few times you get up and walk.


Your nurse will check the circulation and motion of your legs and feet. The dressing may be removed from your incision and the changed. It’s common to continue intravenous fluids for the first day or two.  Your physical activity will continue to focus on your safety with mobility and helping you toward independence. In spite of any mild discomfort, it’s important that you do the deep breathing and physical therapy exercises as instructed. These exercises may better lung capacity and circulation, and often help healing faster.


Your physical therapist will work with you to help you begin moving safely. Ideas will be given to help you move safely in bed and up to a sitting position. You will gradually progress to standing and walking. You may require the use of a walking aid (cane or walker) for a short time following surgery. Exercises may be given to ease soreness in your legs. You may begin static tightening of the thigh and buttocks muscles. Ankle pump exercises can help fluid from pooling in the lower limbs and prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs.

3.Healing Care

Your healing and recovery process will not happen overnight. Please do your best in rehabilitation exercises and be patient to collaborate with your physical therapist. Generally, expect:

A.     To be quite sore for 2 to 3 days after your surgery. Deep healing takes 4 to 6 weeks to happen.

B.     If you feel numbness, tingling or both in your arms/legs before the surgery, it still may be present after your surgery. These symptoms are usually the last to improve especially when felt in the hands and fingers.

C.     If your incision was on the front (anterior) of your neck, your throat may be sore and your voice hoarse for up to 7 days after surgery. You may have some pain with swallowing. Choose foods that are soft and easy to swallow. If you cannot swallow anything or have difficulty breathing, please contact our staff right away.

4.Home Care

Follow these instructions unless your surgeon has given you specific instructions:

A.     If your dressing becomes wet or soiled, you should replace it with a new clean, dry dressing. Steri-strips will fall off with normal showering, do not replace them if they do.

B.     Keep your incision clean and dry. Take showers, not baths. Your incision should not soak in bath water as this may cause the wound to become infected.

C.     Wear loose and comfortable clothing. Before you leave the hospital, you will receive instructions about getting your sutures or staples removed. 

5.Discharge Instruction

A. When the following symptoms come up, please reserve a follow-up appointment:

(1) A persistent headache that is worse when you sit up and better when you lie down.

(2) Clear fluid draining from your incision.

(3)  A swollen area that feels and/or looks like a fluid pocket under the skin near your incision.   

B.  Bleeding or increasing drainage from your incision. Increasing swelling, redness or tenderness around your incision or anywhere under the neck brace.

C. Increasing pain or numbness in your neck, arms or legs that is not relieved by the pain medication ordered by your surgeon at discharge.

D. Problems urinating.

E. Problems swallowing or breathing.

If the previous conditions occur, please contact our staff without hesitations 886-7-2855999 ext. 507, 607,707,807