POST OPERATIVE CARE FOLLOWING ANTERIOR CERVICAL SURGERY

Patient’s who follow their anterior cervical postoperative instructions can fully recover. We encourage you to keep a strong, positive attitude. If you set small goals towards your recovery and work towards meeting those goals for continuous improvement, you will recover much faster and regain strength and mobility.

Our team of dedicated neurosurgeons will discuss your post operative care plan with you following your anterior cervical surgery and are here to answer questions or discuss concerns every step of the way.

If you have questions about your neurosurgery post operative care plan, call (603) 448-0447 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In case of any emergency during non-business hours please dial the same main number and follow the prompts to page the neurosurgeon-on-call.

PAIN

It is normal to have pain after your surgery; especially in the neck and upper back. This does not mean that the procedure was unsuccessful or that your recovery will be delayed. Arm and/or leg aching is also not uncommon. This is primarily caused by inflammation of the previously compressed nerve; the discomfort will gradually decrease as the nerve continues to heal. You may also experience muscle spasms across your back and into your extremities. Medications will be given to control pain and decrease spasm intensity. Moist heat and/or ice and frequent repositioning may also be of further help.

NUTRITION

Intravenous (I.V.) fluids will be discontinued when you can tolerate regular liquids without nausea or vomiting. Your diet will then be adjusted back to normal as your appetite returns, however be aware that swallowing difficulty is a common occurrence, but will improve with time. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, and eat whole grain cereals, fruits, and fruit juices to combat constipation that is sometimes caused by pain medications. If constipation does occur, any over the counter laxative is acceptable.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Increase your activity slowly. Daily walking is the best exercise. Try to increase your distance a little each day, setting a pace that avoids fatigue or severe pain. It is normal to tire easily for the first week or so after you return home. (Swimming should be avoided during the first 2-3 weeks until your incision is well healed.)
Do not:

  • Lift anything over 5 pounds (keep in mind a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds).
  • Lift anything that you cannot easily lift with one hand.

Sexual relations may be resumed during the recovery period, but positions that strain the neck or cause pain should be avoided. You may resume other physical activities including work only after consulting with your treating surgeon.

BATHING AND WOUND CARE

You will have Dermabond over the incision (typically a purple glue like substance), with subcutaneous sutures that do not need to be removed. You may shower with them on and pat dry with a towel. The Dermabond will gradually fall off.

DRIVING

Consult your neurosurgeon in regards to your current driving status. There are no set time restrictions. Use common sense and do not attempt to resume driving until you feel completely comfortable to drive in an uninhibited manner. It is recommended that you do not drive for the first 1-2 weeks while taking high doses of narcotic pain relievers.

FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENT INSTRUCTIONS

You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment 4-6 weeks after surgery with a Physician Assistant. You will be scheduled to have a lateral cervical spine x-ray done on the same day as your follow-up appointments. Please go to Alice Peck Day Radiology ½ hour prior to your follow-up appointment to have x-rays done. The office will send the order to radiology in advance of your appointment.

CALL YOUR NEUROSURGEON IF….

  • You develop a fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • You have redness, swelling, pain and/or drainage from your incision.
  • You experience urinary problems.
  • You experience any NEW weakness or numbness in your arms or legs.

The nursing staff at the hospital will review discharge instructions with you and answer any questions prior to your discharge. A Physician Assistant will be calling you within 7-10 days after your procedure to assess your immediate post-operative recovery and answer any questions.

If you have any questions prior to receiving your call, please contact Upper Valley NeurologyNeurosurgery at (603) 448-0447 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to4:00 p.m. In case of any emergency during non-business hours please dial the same main number and follow the prompts to page the neurosurgeon-on-call.