Cervical spine surgery : How to prepare ?

Cervical spine surgery preparation isn’t that difficult to do but it’s best to engage the help of a few friends and family members. The reason why is because when you have a spinal injury(ex.Spinal stenosis) that is serious enough to have spine surgery, the symptoms prevent you from doing all types of normal daily activities. You may have symptoms such as vertigo where the room appears to be spinning when your head is in a certain position, pins and needles sensations, a lot of pain, altered mental status, and muscle weakness in the arms and upper body.

Cervical spine surgery preparation and recovery starts with knowledge                                                                                                        Cervical spine surgery

Cervical spine surgery can take anywhere from one to several hours, depending on the procedures that will be done. If a degenerated disk is removed, then the surgery doesn’t take that long, compared to surgeries such as spinal fusions. Ask your doctor how long the cervical spine surgery is expected to last, and what types of complications could possibly happen during the surgery to make it last longer.

After the surgery, you’ll be moved into the recovery room where you’ll be watched to make sure that everything went well and continues to go well. You’ll sleep through the whole procedure and wake up a little groggy. At that time, your cervical spine will feel better and the symptoms will be eliminated because the problem has been remedied, but now the big issue is to repair and strengthen the muscles and soft tissues that have been cut during the cervical spine surgery. You’ll spend anywhere from a few hours in the hospital to a few days.

After your surgery, your neck will be bandaged and you’ll have a cervical collar to wear which stabilizes your neck. It’s very important to keep this collar on 24/7 until your physician says it’s time to take it off. The surgical dressings will need to be changed frequently. Cervical spine surgery is usually accompanied by swelling in the neck and may be decreased with an ice pack. For the first few days, you won’t be eating any solid foods and have an IV which will provide your body with everything it needs.

Cervical spine surgery diet

The diet after cervical spine surgery is first a clear liquid diet. It might be difficult to swallow in the very beginning stages after surgery, and for the first few days or even up to a week. After the pain of swallowing improves, you can begin to try solid food.


Whenever a patient has had cervical spine surgery, it’s important to start a complete rehabilitation program so that recovery is complete. The first goal is for you to be able to move around enough to go home. You’ll have to prove that you can walk on your own, without any type of assistance, including a walker; be able to get into bed and out of bed by yourself, and be able to take care of any of your hygienic needs. That’s a lot when you’ve just had cervical spine surgery, but the fact is that almost all patients can do this on their own shortly after the surgery.

Depending on your ability to perform these daily activities, you may be transferred to an interim facility for rehabilitation after surgery before going back home. Rehabilitation sessions include practice in walking, climbing stairs, and exercises for the legs (This prevents clots.) and eventually the upper body. The staff at the rehabilitation facility will try to get you ready for your journey back home.

Cervical spine surgery checklist

  • Do you have someone on standby who can drive you home from the hospital or rehabilitation center after you are released?
  • Is there a schedule of what family members will be providing meals for you?
  • Do you have a temporary caregiver setup on a schedule to attend to you during bathing and hygienic needs?
  • What types of arrangements have been made for the doctor visits, rehab visits or dressing changes?
  • Have you already chosen a temporary cane or walker?
  • Who can you trust to make sure that any antibiotic injections are received after the surgery? Will this be a home health nurse or staff at the hospital?
  • Who can help you administer pain medications once you are released to go home?
  • Have you already been fitted for your cervical collar before cervical spine surgery?
  • Who can help you practice deep breathing exercises after your surgery? Assign someone to the task now, even though this may be performed at the hospital or the rehab center.
  • Who can you call if an item weighing more than 10 pounds will need to be lifted?
  • Who can drive you to different appointments since you won’t be able to drive yourself?
  • Do you have a comfortable recliner that may make it possible for you to sleep in the chair rather than the bed?
  • Do you have enough easy-to-prepare food for a few weeks during your recovery?
  • Can someone help you move items that are normally low and require bending to get or foods that are too high in the cabinets, and place them in an easily reachable location?
  • Has the house been tidied up so that you won’t trip on items when you return?
  •  Have you paid all the bills for the next three weeks so that no utilities will be turned off for nonpayment?

 Cervical spine surgery recovery

The big key is preparation and allowing your health care team to help you and monitor your progress. Taking each step toward recovery should be viewed as one triumph after another, and once you do this, you’ll soon be back to regular daily life as usual – but without pain and without your previous problem. Remember many people recover very well from cervical spine surgery.

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Filed under: Spinal Stenosis