If your neck pain has progressed to the point where it’s disrupting your daily life, or it’s simply not responding well to conservative treatment, it may be time to consider neck surgery. A neck procedure can help with a variety of conditions, like a pinched nerve, a bone spur or a shifted vertebral disc. However, everything isn’t just back to normal once the surgeon has completed surgery. In order to achieve maximum relief after neck surgery, you need to be smart about your rehabilitation plan. In today’s blog, we share five tips for keeping your rehab on track after neck surgery.
It’s worth noting that these are just some general recovery tips, and your best bet is to follow the individual advice put forth by your surgeon. That being said, many of their recommendations will fall in line with these guidelines.
1. Mind Your Posture – Oftentimes poor neck posture contributed to the need for surgery in the first place, so you can’t just go back to the same posture habits after your operation. Be mindful of your neck positioning throughout the day, and perform some self checks each hour to ensure you’re not unknowingly stressing your cervical spine. These posture checks are also important long after healing has run its course, otherwise you may be back on the operating table in the near future.
2. Know Your Limits – Talk to your doctor about your activity restrictions. If they tell you not to drive for two weeks or tell you not to get the incision site wet for a few days, heed these instructions. These restrictions have been put in place for a reason. If you have concerns about activity restrictions, bring them up to your doctor, don’t just push forward and hope they won’t find out. If you want work clearance or a reduction in activity restrictions, run your wishes by your surgeon first.
3. Take It Slow – Your neck is both a strong and delicate system, and after surgery it is going to be in a weakened state. You need to take it slow when it comes to activity and exercise, otherwise you may overload the area. This doesn’t mean that exercise and physical therapy should be avoided in lieu of rest, but you need to be smart about your workload and increasing stress on your neck. Again, if you have questions or concerns about your rehab or activity schedule, talk to your surgeon or a physical therapist.
4. Attend Physical Therapy, and Do Your Home Exercises – Physical therapy is what’s going to drive your recovery after cervical spine surgery, so make sure you attend every session and follow through on your home-based exercises. PT will work to increase your range of motion, strengthen recovering structures and improve your flexibility. This is a crucial time for improving these factors. If you don’t follow through with PT, scar tissue and other problems can set in, preventing you from ever reaching maximum medical improvement. Make time every day to do your physical therapy exercises.
5. Wound Care – Finally, make sure that you are appropriately caring for the surgical site as the incision heals. Talk to your surgeon or your care team about how to best change your dressing and keep the site clean. An infection can threaten the integrity of your surgery and result in the need for a secondary operation, which is something that nobody wants to endure. If you’re concerned about any symptoms you’re experiencing, reach out to your surgical care team.
For more information, or for help with your neck issue, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.