Cervical Post-Operative Instructions

The following guidelines are recommended after spine surgery to ensure a good recovery. You may be given additional instructions by your surgeon when discharged. If you have any questions or problems please contact our office at (214) 351-8450.


You may be up and about to take care of your personal needs but avoid any strenuous activity.

Do not lift more than 8 pounds (equivalent to about a gallon of milk). Avoid pushing or pulling types of activity.

Going up and down stairs is permissible. Be sure to use the handrails and take one step at a time until comfortable. Take precautions to prevent falls and use assistance if unsure. If you were given TED hose stockings you may discontinue wearing them once you are up and walking daily.

Avoid repetitive neck movements or excessive looking down or looking up. Limited side-to-side motion as tolerated is permitted.


Walking is the best “exercise” after surgery and you need to walk DAILY. You should not engage in any other exercise until instructed by your physician. Gradually increase the distance you walk and, if weather permits, you may walk outside. You should be able to gradually increase your distance until you can walk about one mile within one month after surgery.


If instructed to wear a hard cervical collar, you will need to wear it for 4 weeks after surgery including during sleep. You may remove the collar for brief periods to shower and attend to personal hygiene, but remember to maintain your neck in a neutral position and avoid bending. Driving is not allowed during this time period.

Incision Care

Keep the incision dry for 48 hours after surgery. You do not need to apply any ointment. You do not need to keep the incision covered unless there is drainage from the incision. Contact us if drainage persists for more than 2 days or if you have redness or swelling around the incision.

There are steri-strips (small adhesive strips) over the incision. These need to stay in place for 10 days, but do not be concerned if the steri-strip edges roll up or fall off. If the strips are still in place after ten days remove them.

If you have fevers or chills, take your temperature with a thermometer. If you have a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3 degrees Celsius or higher, contact our office.

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You may SHOWER and get the incision wet after 48 hours. Avoid scrubbing your incision site. Do NOT soak the incision; so avoid baths, hot tubs or swimming. It is normal for the incision site to itch, but avoid scratching.


Do not drive for the first two weeks. You may ride in an automobile for short distances as tolerated.

Pain Medication

You will be given a prescription for pain medication when you are discharged from the hospital. You may take the pain medication with a snack or meal if stomach upset occurs. If you need a refill, have your pharmacy fax a refill request to our office at (214) 351-8451, or mention that we participate with SureScripts (request will be sent electronically).

Sexual Intercourse

Sexual intercourse may be resumed at any time as tolerated. Go slowly and avoid painful positions.


Eat a healthy, well balanced diet and avoid extra calories. You may have a decreased appetite after surgery. If you have had neck surgery, you may have temporary difficulty swallowing solid food (such as bread or meat), which should improve in 5 – 7 days.


You may be constipated after your surgery, so increase your intake of fiber (fruits and vegetables) and fluid (unless instructed otherwise). You may use your choice of over-the-counter laxatives (such as Senokot S, Dulcolax, Colace, or Milk of Magnesia). If you do not have a bowel movement, use an over- the-counter enema (i.e. Fleets Enema) as indicated on the bottle. If you are still unable to have a bowel movement, or have nausea, vomiting or abdominal bloating, contact your family doctor for instructions.


You should not smoke after surgery. Smoking decreases the rate of skin and bone healing. The hospital campuses are smoke-free. Contact your primary care physician for smoking cessation options prior to surgery if needed.

Office Follow-up

You will need a post-operative appointment for an incision check and follow-up, 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You will also be seen at 3 months after surgery. Please call our office to schedule an appointment. You will need x-rays before your follow-up appointment if you have had a fusion surgery. Our office will contact you with the date and time.

NOTE: If your surgery date changes, you will need to call the office to change your follow-up appointment.

Disability or Activity/Work Restriction Paperwork

If activity/work restriction paperwork needs to be addressed, please notify someone when you check in at your follow-up visit. Otherwise, please call the office at (214) 351-8450, and allow at least a week for paperwork to be completed. If short-term disability/FMLA paperwork needs to be addressed, please fax your form with your name, date of birth, and contact information to (214) 351-8451. There is a $10 pre- pay fee. Please allow 5-10 business days.

Save these instructions for reference after your surgery. If you have any questions about your surgical procedure or post-operative management, call (214) 351-8450.

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