POSTERIOR CERVICAL SURGERY PATIENT CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Posterior cervical postoperative instructions are tailored towards the individual patient and following these instructions will ensure a full recovery. If you plan to have, or have recently had posterior cervical surgery, it’s important to know that having a strong, positive attitude, setting small goals for improvement, and working steadily to accomplish each goal will lessen your recovery time.

Our team of dedicated neurosurgeons will discuss your post operative care plan with you and are here to answer questions or discuss concerns every step of the way. If you have questions about your posterior cervical postoperative instructions or your personal 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.

General posterior cervical preoperative instructions are provided below but care is specific to every patient and depends on the type of procedure administered. Patients who have received anterior cervical procedureslumbar surgerycarpal tunnel surgery, or SI joint fusions may require an individual, post-operative care plan.

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.  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 fusion period usually the initial 6 weeks to 3 months or, while wearing the Philadelphia collar.)
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 either have Dermabond over the incision (typically a purple glue like substance), with subcutaneous sutures that do not need to be removed.  The Dermabond will gradually fall off. Or you may have sutures that require removal.  If these are used you will be scheduled for a suture removal within 10 to 14 days of your procedure.  You may shower, after 3-5 days. 
Do not: 

  • Scrub the incision. Instead, pat the area try with a towel after showering.
  • Soak the incision (i.e.: baths, swimming etc.) until you are approximately 2 weeks out from your surgery and the sutures have been removed.

DRIVING

Consult your surgeon 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 higher dosages of narcotic pain relievers.

FOLLOW UP CARE

You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment 4-6 weeks after surgery with a Physician Assistant. You will have a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon in 3 months. If you have sutures that need to be removed, a suture removal appointment will be made in 10-14 days following your surgery with a Physician Assistant. Patients with hardware may need x-rays done at Alice Peck Day Radiology ½ hour prior to your follow-up appointments. This will be arranged ahead of time by the office.

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.

If you have any questions prior to receiving your call, please contact Upper Valley Neurology Neurosurgery at (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.