And the problem is truly widespread.
Degenerative cervical spine disorders will affect up to two-thirds of the population in their lifetime.
Knowing how to best treat these conditions is essential.
There are many different treatments we recommend for degenerative cervical spine disorders, but it’s important to know which option is right for you.
Many times, patients find relief using a combination of physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, and medication with their doctor’s supervision.
Patients also see great improvement with minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery. They find their cervical spine surgery recovery is often easier than that resulting from traditional methods.
You and your doctor may elect to have minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery, traditional cervical disc replacement surgery, the Mobi-C method, or pursue another treatment option.
But if you elect any surgery as a treatment, understanding your path to recovery will greatly improve your chances of success.
We’ve put together 7 tips for cervical spine surgery recovery.
Let’s read them now:
1. Plan Ahead
That’s what these tips are all about: helping you plan ahead for success.
Knowing what to expect about medications and physical rehab will help you plan better. Cervical spine surgery recovery is a process that needs special care.
Prior to your surgery, your doctor will help you prepare. There will be medications you may need to stop taking 5-7 days prior to surgery.
You will also have to fast the night before surgery. Also, arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up from the surgery.
Talk to your doctors and medical professionals prior to the day of your surgery. Agree on timing for events like your likely return to work, and when you can drive a car.
Proactively talking to your employer, family, and friends will help you set up a recovery plan. It’s important to avoid stressors to your recovery.
2. Know What to Avoid
Reviewing your list of post-operative exercises and restrictions will help you know exactly what moves to avoid.
After surgery, you will be advised not to twist or bend. Avoid hyperextending your neck or moving your chin to your chest after surgery.
You also will need to avoid lifting, pushing or pulling objects greater than 5 to 10 lbs. This is recommended for the first 6 weeks following surgery.
3. Learn Proper Form
Once you can return to lifting objects greater than 5 to 10 lbs., you will want to follow proper form. As with all of your recovery, this will help ensure you don’t hinder the healing process or, even worse, reinjure yourself.
While in the hospital, and during you follow-up medical appointments, your medical team will advise you in proper form for daily practices. Learning how to lift using your legs is critical.
4. Use Medication Properly
Using medication properly will help to aid your recovery.
By the time they elect surgery, many patients are anxious to stop using pain medication. They have been treating their spine issues using medication for a long time and choose surgery for more relief.
For many patients, being medication-free is a goal. But following surgery, proper medication helps chances of a great recovery.
Many doctors will create a 90-day plan for medication following surgery. They will adjust doses and durations with each patient according to the healing process.
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids while taking medication. This helps avoid constipation.
5. Perform Physical Therapy and Rehab
You know all those stories we read about professional athletes suffering a debilitating injury? It seems like in the blink of an eye they are back up playing.
Many of us attribute the success of their surgeries to great doctors and medical professionals. We think it’s because they have access to techniques and procedures the rest of us don’t have access to.
But much of their success is due to Discipline in the Physical Therapy component to their rehab.
Retired pro football player Willie McGinest explains:
“It’s just all about how much you put into the rehab, and how much you do, which is going to determine how fast and strong you get back.”
First, you will be given exercises to do while still in the hospital. Performing these under the supervision of medical professionals will help you learn proper form and technique for when you are on your own.
You may be given a series of exercises to perform at home on your own. Or, you may be given a prescription for physical therapy.
In either case, performing these exercises as prescribed will help your recovery immensely.
You’ll find one of the best therapies for your surgery is simply taking walks. Adjusting the duration and length as you heal will help your cervical spine surgery recovery.
6. Easy Does It With Cervical Spine Surgery Recovery
Yes, focus on doing the proper exercises following surgery. But take it easy, too.
Sometimes, the combination of medication dulling the pain, along with impatience to get back to work, make patients think it’s okay to overdo things.
Don’t overdo it–in the first couple of weeks after your surgery, especially.
7. Get Plenty of Help
Part of taking it easy and allowing your body to heal following surgery is getting help.
As already stated, having family and friends available for help with daily tasks will assist your recovery.
By avoiding lifting, pushing, and pulling you are less likely to reinjure yourself during recovery.
Your doctor may suggest not driving for two weeks as well. This could extend even longer, depending on the types of pain medications that best aid your recovery.
In either instance, you will need help with errands, shopping, and travel for a while.
Don’t go it alone.
Be aware that help extends through your community to your doctor and trusted medical professionals. Having the best team supporting you will go a long way toward helping your recovery.
At Executive Spine Surgery, Dr. Carl Spivak and his team work to help patients with their cervical spine surgery recovery every day. We focus on the treatment options best suited for your needs.
Let us help.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.