Healing is the body's natural process of restoring
its damaged tissues to a normal or nearly normal state.
Although healing may be improved by general good health,
proper nutrition, rest, and physical fitness, it will
occur without your having to work at it.
Recovery is the process during which you work to become
well. It requires a gradual but persistent effort to
increase physical strengths and minimise weaknesses.
You must concentrate on what is improving, rather than
on what symptoms remain. This focus on progress that
has been made, combined with the constant effort to
improve, make up the positive attitude that will speed
your return to normal daily activity.
here to see post-surgery lifestyle guidelines for cervical
It is normal to have pain after the operation, especially
in the incision area. This does not mean that the procedure
was unsuccessful or that your recovery will be slow.
Pain in the neck or arms is also not unusual, caused
by inflammation of the previously compressed nerve.
It will slowly lessen as the nerve heals. Medication
will be given to control pain. Moist heat and frequent
repositioning may also help.
Numbness or tingling sensations are often the last symptoms
to leave. Numbness, which lingers in parts of the arm
or fingers usually is no cause for worry and should
gradually go away.
You may move about in bed and rest in any comfortable
position when you have recovered from anaesthesia. Walking
may begin within several hours. The easiest way for
you to get out of bed is to raise the head of the bed
as far as it will go, and then swing your legs to the
floor. Avoid pulling up from a flat position.
Gradually increase the amount of walking you do each
day. Since it may at first be painful, try making short
trips. Begin with a trip to the bathroom, then to the
door, and later out into the corridor. Sitting and standing
also require a gradual pace. If discomfort occurs, change
Usually you may take a shower the day after surgery.
This will make you feel better and should be done with
the dressing left in place to protect the incision.
Your nurse will change the dressing afterwards.
Intravenous (I.V.) fluids will be ordered during the
early recovery period and continued until you can tolerate
regular liquids without nausea or vomiting. Your diet
will then be adjusted back to normal as your appetite
returns. Constipation will be treated with laxatives
and a diet of whole grain cereals, fruits, and fruit
It is normal to feel discouraged and tired for several
days after surgery. These feelings may be your body's
natural reaction to the cutback of extra hormones it
put out to handle the stress of surgery. Although emotional
let-down is not uncommon, it must not be allowed to
get in the way of the positive attitude essential to
your recovery and return to normal activity.
The hospital stay for anterior cervical fusion patients
usually lasts 1 or 2 days. This will be determined by
your progress and by the amount of comfort and help
available to you at home.
Daily walking is the best exercise. Try to increase
your distance a little each day, setting a pace that
avoids fatigue or severe pain. You may climb stairs
when you feel able.
Sexual relations may be resumed during the recovery
period, but positions that cause pain should be avoided.
"Listen" to your body. Discomfort is normal while you
gradually return to normal activity, but pain is a signal
to stop what you are doing and proceed more slowly.
Your doctor will help determine when you can return
to work and with what limitations. If a work release
is required, it will be given to you during the first
Drive a car only when you have recovered full coordination
and are experiencing minimal pain. Do not drive after
taking pain medication.
You should gradually use less pain medication while
recovering at home. This can be accomplished by increasing
the amount of time between taking pills, then by reducing
the number taken each time. A certain amount of discomfort
and pain can be expected until the inflammation and
nerve sensitivity have subsided. Heat, exercise, massage,
and short rest periods will also help relieve pain.
If the skin sutures were removed before your discharge
from the hospital, it is not necessary to keep the incision
covered. Unless instructed otherwise, you may take a
daily shower or tub bath, which will help you feel better.
Let the water run over the incision, but do not scrub
or rub over it. Pat it dry. After bathing, massage lotion
over the tightened neck muscles.
If you notice increased redness, swelling, or any drainage
around the incision after leaving the hospital, notify
A well balanced diet is necessary for proper healing.
Include foods from each basic food group: dairy products,
meats, vegetables, and fruits. Since you will be less
active during recuperation, avoid rich, heavy foods
and those high in calories but low in nutrients.
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