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Patient HelpBook

After your Cervical Surgery

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  1. Eat what you can tolerate but avoid overeating. Exercise is limited following your surgery and, therefore, weight gain is common. If your pain medications include CODEINE or other narcotics, you may want to consider eating bulky foods such as bran, fruit, etc. Narcotics tend to cause constipation.
  2. Most cervical fusions do not require bracing. For posterior operations, soft collars can be worn as needed for comfort.
  3. The plastic or gauze bandage on the operation site should be removed 1-2 days after leaving the hospital and then leave your wound open to the air. Do not get the wound or bandage wet during this time. Remove Steri strips after 4 to 5 days.
  4. Daily walking is good exercise. Increase the distance a little each day and set a pace that avoids pain or fatigue.
  5. You may sit in a chair as much as is comfortable for you.
  6. If you have had a posterior cervical fusion, do not lift more than 10 pounds at a time for a period of 4 weeks.
  7. It is okay to climb stairs.
  8. Driving should be as tolerated, but you must be aware of the limited range of motion that you have for a short period following surgery. You must be more alert!
  9. You may resume your normal sexual activity, within reason.
  10. The pain relievers recommended by your doctor may include TYLENOL, TYLENOL with CODEINE, DARVOCET, or VICODIN (Hydrocodone), or other prescription pain medications.
  11. The doctor will determine when you may return to work and with what limitations of activity. If a release is required, please ask for one at the time of your first postoperative visit.
  12. If you have increased numbness or weakness (more than before your surgery), you must call your physician. You should expect normal muscle pain, residual numbness, or residual weakness if it is present preoperatively. You may also have hoarseness of voice or trouble swallowing, which may last several weeks after an anterior operation. If this condition persists, however, or if you have loss of bowel or bladder dysfunction, you must call your physician.
  13. You should be alert for a possible urinary tract infection if you had a catheter (a tube in your bladder) inserted. Notify your doctor if you notice any burning when urinating, or a foul odor to your urine. Remember that constipation is common, due to a decrease in activity and the pain medications you may be taking. Varying your diet and using a laxative of your choice, or an enema, will be helpful.

Other post-surgical care situations:

After your carpal tunnel surgery

After your ulnar nerve transposition

After your back surgery or your lumbar fusion

After your lumbar fusion

After your cervical surgery

After your craniotomy


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