- Avoid any heavy lifting, straining, swimming, golfing, driving or riding a bicycle until after your postoperative appointment at 1 to 3 weeks.
- Daily walking at a pace that avoids fatigue or severe pain. Increase your distance a little each day.
- You may climb stairs when you feel able.
- Discomfort is normal while you gradually return to normal activity, but pain is a signal to proceed more slowly.
- Sexual relations may be resumed during the recovery period, but avoid positions that strain the neck or cause pain.
- At your 1 to 3 week postoperative appointment, specific instructions will be given regarding an exercise program you can do at home.
- Not all patients require a collar to use so follow your physician’s instructions.
- If you are discharged with a hard cervical collar, it is to be worn as directed by your physician.
- If you are given a soft collar for comfort, please use while active and remove when resting.
- Your doctor will determine when you can return to work and any restrictions.
- Restrictions are individualized depending on the type of work and the amount of lifting, bending and twisting required at your work
- You should not drive a car until released by your physician, usually after your first postoperative visit.
- Never drive after pain medications.
- You may ride as a passenger at any time and may also ride in a plane as necessary.
- Take several short trips prior to a long trip. If going on a long trip, take frequent breaks (at least every hour).
Medications and Diet
- Prescription pain medications will be given for discomfort which is not relieved by over-the-counter medications.
- We expect the use of pain medicines to be very mild and dispense enough pain medicines to last the patient throughout the recovery period.
- Heat, moderate exercise and rest will also help to improve the recovery and decrease the pain.
- Laxatives should be used as needed. Narcotic pain medicines generally cause mild constipation.
- You may experience some difficulty swallowing and sore throat for a few days. You may want to eat soft foods and avoid hot items during this period.
- Drink plenty of fluids when you eat.
- Refills of narcotics are generally done only during post-operative visits and will not be prescribed over the telephone unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- Narcotics will not be filled on weekends beginning at noon on Friday or after-hours.
- You may take a shower once the original dressing is removed from the wound. This is usually done in the hospital or the day after the discharge.
- Do not let the shower hit directly on the wound and do not submerse the wound under water such as in a hot tub or bathtub for at least three weeks.
- If the wound is wet, merely pat it dry. Do not rub it dry.
- Do not put any ointment or lotion on your incision.
- If steri-strips (butterfly tape) were applied, you may take them off after five to seven days.
- If Dermabond (glue) is used, this will slowly come off over two weeks.
- If sutures are in place, they will need to come out about 1 week after surgery. If the skin sutures were removed before your discharge from the hospital, it is not necessary to keep the incision covered.
- It is important to look at your wound on a daily basis and inspect the area for signs of redness, swelling, drainage or pus.
If you experience any of the following report it to CNI immediately.
- Body temperature increases to 101 or greater
- Difficulty with swallowing becomes worse
- Pain equal to or greater than your pre-operative state.