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


Dr. Jack Zigler shares his instructions for patients who are recovering from cervical fusion or cervical disc replacement surgery. Dr. Zigler is with the Texas Back Institute in Plano, Texas.
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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