Understandably, the very idea of any kind of spinal surgery can bring some degree of stress with it. Surgery does require preparation. It does necessitate a time of healing. At the same time, the benefits far outweigh these aspects of care. A person who undergoes neck surgery has most likely been through a few nonsurgical treatments first. They have engaged in weeks or months of physical therapy, have taken prescription pain medication, and have followed their doctor’s orders regarding exercise and physical activity. Surgery is the solution we turn to when other modalities do not achieve the necessary relief from pain.
When we get to the point of talking about neck surgery, a patient may be ready for a change. At the same time, they often have questions and concerns about recovery. What might they expect? And, the big one, how long will it take to get to a new normal in terms of comfort and range of motion? This is a difficult question to answer because every case is unique. There are a few factors that we do know play a part in the timeline of recovery. We’ll discuss those here.
Factors in Recovery
- The type of injury that has been sustained and the severity of the injury.
- Patient age. The younger patient may have an edge on a speedy recovery due to the activity of their cells. Younger cells are typically more active; they have more energy to attend to the healing that is necessary.
- General health. Patients with coinciding health conditions such as diabetes may take a bit longer to recover from neck surgery (or any surgery). This is because health conditions take energy from the body, which limits the capacity to heal.
- The more active a person is and the better habits they keep, the better we expect them to recover from surgery. This is because the body receive the nutrients and circulation that is needed to deliver vital nutrition and oxygenation to tissues.
Support Healing after Neck Surgery
After neck surgery, patients may take a few simple steps to facilitate an optimal recovery. These include:
- Don’t just attend physical therapy appointments, follow through on the exercises demonstrated by the physical therapist as recommended.
- This cannot be overstated. Surgery is taxing on the body. After a neck procedure, it is necessary to rest as much as the body dictates. Resting is the only way to alleviate pressure on the neck, which continually supports the weight of the head.
- Eat for healing. The body thrives when it receives vitamins and minerals from fresh foods. Eating well after surgery is an easy way to promote prompt and complete healing of tissues. Also, it is vital to stay hydrated so blood circulates as needed through tissues.