Recovering from Neck Surgery After Neck Surgery


Ask a doctor about a specific recovery plan following surgery. It is important to follow doctor’s instructions carefully to recover from surgery as quickly as possible and to increase the chances of a successful outcome. Cervical fusion surgery and cervical disc replacement surgery are both considered major surgery. A patient can expect to stay in the hospital for approximately one day. As with any major surgery, some discomfort and a period of rehabilitation should be expected.

After surgery, a doctor or nurse may:

  • Prescribe medicines to control pain and nausea
  • Demonstrate how to care for a wound before a patient is sent home
  • Demonstrate how to take care of a drainage tube in a wound, if that is included in therapy
  • Discuss a program to gradually increase activity
  • Advise how to wear a neck brace after surgery
  • Advise that a patient should avoid activities that require repeated bending, lifting and twisting, and also athletic activities
  • Schedule a follow up appointment


After surgery, a doctor may refer a patient to a physical therapist to learn exercises on how to improve strength and increase mobility. The goal of physical therapy is to help a person become active as soon as possible, using safe body movements that protect the spine. This often includes neck strengthening exercises. A person may also be taught different ways of positioning their neck to avoid reinjuring their spine.


Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • A fever develops
  • The wound starts leaking blood (red streaks) or pus (a thick yellowish or greenish liquid, which may consist of bacteria)
  • Swallowing or breathing becomes difficult
  • Urination becomes difficult
  • There is new or increased neck or arm pain, numbness, or weakness