Surgical Information

Home Care After Cervical Spinal Fusion ACDF and Cervical Disc Replacement

ACTIVITY

You need to give your body time to heal after this operation; however, you should not stay completely inactive. You should be out of bed and ambulating to promote healing and reduce the risk of secondary medical issues such as blood clots. Below is a list of activities you should follow.

  1. Depending on what surgery you have, you may be given either a soft cervical collar or a hard neck brace after surgery.
    • Soft cervical collar-
      This cervical collar is to be worn for your comfort. You are NOT required to wear the collar at all times. It is recommended you wear the collar on the car ride home from the hospital, and as needed for comfort during the first two weeks after surgery. You cannot wear this collar while driving.
    • Hard Neck Brace-
      You may be given a neck brace after surgery. Your surgeon will direct you on when you must wear the brace. In most instances, for the first two weeks after surgery you should wear the neck brace for the majority of the day and when sleeping. You may remove the brace for short periods of time when resting and you may remove the brace to shower. There are some instances when the brace must be worn at all times, even when showering, and your surgeon will advise you of this. You cannot drive while wearing this brace.
  2. No sports activity except for walking and in some cases the use of an exercise bike for the first two weeks after surgery. Try to avoid sweating in the area of the incision to reduce risk of infection. (Note: There are no limits on stair climbing or sitting. Use your comfort level as an indicator of the length of time you are able to sit or climb stairs. Generally a person is comfortable sitting about 1 hour before a change in position or activity is needed).
  3. It is important to stay mobile after surgery. Below is a general walking program that is recommended.
    • Day 1 (at home): Walk 1 block in the morning and 1 block in the afternoon/evening.
    • After Day 1: Increase your distance 1 block per day as long as it is comfortable. You should be walking 1-2 miles per day when you return for your next visit.
  4. Sleep either on your back or side as comfortable.

LIMITATIONS

  • No driving while wearing brace or while on narcotics.
  • No lifting more than 5 pounds (about a gallon of milk) for the first 2 weeks after surgery. No lifting more than 25 pounds for an additional 4 weeks (six weeks total).
  • No sexual activity for the first week after surgery, after that as comfortable.

INCISION CARE

Caring for your incision at home is important to prevent infection. Please follow the steps below on incision care:

  • If you have a dressing over your incision, you may remove it when you are home.
  • When you are home, it is preferred that you leave the incision open to air. You may cover the incision with a bandage if this is more comfortable, however you need to change the dressing once a day.
  • Your incision has been closed with suture material under the skin and covered with steri-strips (small pieces of surgical tape) on the skin. The steri-strips will gradually peel off as they get wet when you take a shower. This is normal and expected.
  • You may shower 3 days after surgery. No direct water pressure on the incision, but water can roll over the incision. Pat incision dry with a clean towel.

PAIN MANAGEMENT AT HOME

It is normal after surgery to have occasional pain, numbness, or tingling in your neck or arms. To reduce the pain, there are several approaches to try:

  • Ice the back of the neck for 15-20 minutes every hour for 4 consecutive hours. Do not place the ice directly on the skin. Use a ready-made ice pack or put ice in a plastic bag and wrap in a towel before you use it.
  • Take the pain medicine as directed by your doctor. Do not supplement the pain medication with over the counter medications especially Tylenol®. Many of the narcotic pain medicines contain Tylenol® and may harm your liver if too much is taken.
  • DO NOT TAKE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS FOR 3 MONTHS (aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin®, Advil®, Aleve®) AFTER SURGERY. THESE MEDICINES DELAY BONE HEALING.

If you need a refill on your pain medicine, call your surgeon's office, (703) 810-5202, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:00pm. Please call before you have only 1 or 2 tablets and be ready to give the name and phone number of the pharmacy where you want the prescription filled.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING

  1. A temperature of 101 F (38.3 C) or greater on 2 readings taken 4 hours apart
  2. An increase in pain, redness or swelling around your incision.
  3. Drainage from your incision.
  4. Increasing difficulty breathing or swallowing
  5. Develop difficulty urinating or controlling your bowel movements.
  6. Increased swelling in your ankles or feet.
  7. Increasing weakness of your arms or legs.
  8. Redness, warmth and tenderness on the back of the calf of your leg(s).

FUTURE FOLLOW-UP VISITS

1st post operative appointment: This usually occurs 1 to 2 weeks after your surgery date. Call Dr. Mazahery's office when you are discharged from the hospital to schedule your post operative appointment. 703-810-5202

RETURN TO WORK

Your return to work will depend on your recovery and the type of work you do. You must discuss this with your doctor before you return to work

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS

Dr. Mazahery's office (703) 810-5202, Monday through Friday 8:30am-5:00pm

For emergencies on nights and weekends, please call (703) 810-5202 and have the on call provider paged. You will need to leave your number and the doctor will call you back shortly.