If you’ve undergone surgery to address a slipped disc or a pinched nerve in your neck, you’re probably relieved that your days of pain and discomfort will soon be in the past. However, if you don’t follow through with your rehab or you perform some inadvisable actions during your recovery, you may not make a full recovery following the operation. Below, we take a closer look at some of the ways patients sabotage their recovery after neck surgery, and we share ways to avoid stressing your neck during this crucial stage of recovery.
Recovering After Neck Surgery
Your doctor will walk you through all the basics of recovery, including how to change your dressing, how physical therapy should be performed and what signs suggest you may be dealing with an infection. They don’t always spend a lot of time pointing out the activities that you should avoid, so we want to put those in the spotlight today. Here are some activities you want to carefully manage after neck surgery.
Poor Diet – Your surgeon may explain that eating a healthy diet is important, but there’s more to a healthy diet after surgery than meets the eye. If you make poor food choices, you may be prone in inflammation development in your neck, spine and joints. This inflammation can cause discomfort and impact how quickly you heal. You’ll also want to make sure you drink plenty of water after surgery and avoid beverages that can dehydrate your system, like coffee or alcohol. Hydration helps to keep blood vessels from narrowing, which in turns helps keep healthy, oxygenated blood flowing to the surgical site, which aids in recovery.
Cell Phone and Book Use – Odds are you’re going to miss some time away from school or work following a cervical spine procedure, and you may use your cell phone or books to stay entertained. Problems can develop if you are craning your neck forward or in an odd position to use your phone or read a book. This can restrict blood flow or stress crucial structures that are already weakened from the trauma of surgery. Avoid overusing your phone or reading excessively while recovering unless you can do so in a manner that doesn’t stress your neck.
Working – We understand that work is how you make a living, but if you return to work too quickly following a neck operation, you could suffer a setback and be left in worse neck pain than you were in prior to your operation, and that can keep you out of work even longer. Listen to your doctor’s instructions about when you can return to work, and if you believe you may be ahead of schedule, make sure you get clearance from your doctor before engaging in physical activities.
Inconsistency – One final thing you’ll want to avoid during your recovery is inconsistency. If you are inconsistent in your commitment to physical therapy, or you aren’t doing your stretching routines, your neck is going to suffer. The first few weeks after surgery are critical for re-strengthening crucial structures and expanding your range of motion. If you don’t commit to your rehab, you’re not going to experience full recovery. Don’t go through the motions or only do your exercises when it’s convenient to you, make time for your physical therapy sessions and give it your all when you’re doing them. Avoiding inconsistency is one of the best ways to maximize your recovery following neck surgery.