Recovering from Neck Surgery After Neck Surgery

follow your recovery plan

With either cervical fusion or cervical disc replacement surgery, your medical team will provide a recovery plan specific to your needs. Keep your doctors informed, follow their instructions, and contact them with questions. You will maximize your chance of a good outcome if you let your body heal. 


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

After surgery, your doctor or nurse may:

  • Prescribe medicines to control pain and nausea
  • Show you how to care for your wound before you are sent home
  • Show you how to take care of a drainage tube in your wound, if that is part of your therapy
  • Discuss a program to gradually increase your activity;tell you to wear a neck brace after surgery
  • Tell you to wear a neck brace after surgery
  • Tell you to avoid activities that require repeated bending, lifting, twisting, such as athletic activities
  • Schedule office visits to assess your progress and to see if anything else needs to be done for your recovery


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


Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • You get a fever
  • Your wound starts leaking blood (red streaks) or pus (a thick yellowish or greenish liquid, which may consist of bacteria)
  • You have trouble swallowing or breathing
  • You have trouble urinating
  • You have new or increased neck or arm pain, numbness, or weakness

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.