Spinal surgery of any kind can be somewhat intimidating. There seem to be many things to think about as surgery day approaches. One of the first questions that patients often have is how long it may take them to recover from their procedure. We can do our best to answer this question on a case by case basis, but it is important to understand that several factors contribute to the progress of healing after neck surgery.
Like any part of the spine, the neck, or cervical spine, is a complex structure. Recovery is somewhat affected by each person’s physiology and also by the procedure that is performed. Keep in mind that a surgeon does not recommend procedures lightly. Neck surgery is typically recommended when the benefits of the procedure are expected to outweigh risks. Benefits include:
- A marked decrease in pain. After a full recovery, patients are expected to be able to resume their normal activities. Surgery restores comfort and range of motion, thereby improving quality of life.
- Better health. Patients who undergo surgery to correct a spinal problem have addressed the source of chronic or recurrent pain, thereby improving general wellness.
Factors That Affect Recovery Time
How long does it take to recover from neck surgery? This depends on several factors, including:
- Patient age. Generally, it is believed that younger patients tend to recover more quickly than older patients. This is based on how quickly patients surpass recovery milestones. Remember, the tortoise still won the race.
- The severity and type of cervical spine problem that has developed.
- General health. Patients with no pre-existing medical conditions that tax the body typically heal within the predicted time frame.
- Patients who smoke or lead a sedentary lifestyle are not well-equipped for healing. Recovery from neck surgery will happen, but it may take longer when tissue does not receive the oxygenation and nutrients needed for regeneration.
Important Tips for Surgical Recovery
Surgery is physically demanding. Neck surgery is no exception. The neck is involved in facilitating the movement of the head. It is not possible to remove all pressure from the neck as it heals. For this reason, recovery can take some time. Tips that may help the process along include:
- The best way to reduce pressure on the cervical spine is to rest. Work can wait. Exercise can wait. Healing is the most important activity after surgery, which means resting and moving about less than normal.
- Physical therapy. Most patients who undergo neck surgery are prescribed physical therapy to help them regain strength and mobility. Physical therapy is not a once-and-done event. For optimal healing, patients should follow through on the exercises or stretching demonstrated by their physical therapist.
- Diet and hydration. Blood oxygenation and nutrition are vital to healing after surgery. The blood carries nutrients to damaged tissue in the body. By eating well and staying hydrated, patients encourage the free and effective delivery of nutrients to the surgical site. This can be an easy task; just snack on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of chips or crackers. This encouraged consistent hydration throughout the day.
The prospect of neck surgery doesn’t have to create unnecessary stress. Talk with an experienced surgeon to find out more about chronic neck pain and what to do about it. Call our NYC office at 212-606-1004.