For a smooth recovery period after cervical disc hernia and cervical spine surgeries, some points need to be taken into consideration.
You generally do not need much bed rest after being discharged from the hospital after surgery. But you need to rest. The healing process of superficial wounds (visible through the skin) is the first week. You should not engage in exercise or strenuous activities during this period.
Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you may need to use a neck brace after neck surgery. In neck surgeries approached from the front, a cage with a bone graft can be applied after the disc space is emptied. Screw-rod systems, commonly referred to as platinum, can also be used in cervical spine surgeries approached from behind. In this way, ossification, called fusion, is achieved between the upper and lower cervical spine bones. In order for this ossification process to occur properly and during the healing process of the deep wound, you may need to use a neck brace. The duration will be specified to you according to your doctor’s recommendation. It is recommended that the neck collar you use should be a two-piece neck collar suitable for your neck thickness, which keeps the chin stable, prevents movement, preferably has a slightly adjustable height and does not cause sweating. At the end of the process, removing the neck brace gradually and in coordination with the neck exercises recommended for you will prevent neck muscle weakness and possible muscle and joint pain that may occur due to inactivity.
It is sufficient to apply the dressing to the wound every other day for the first week, unless your doctor states otherwise. It is enough to pour 10% povidone (Betadine, Baticon, etc.) on a sterile sponge or cotton, apply it to the stitched area without pressing it, cover it with a sterile sponge and cover the ventilated surface with a plaster or ready-made self-adhesive sterile wound pads that you can find in pharmacies. It is important that no water gets into the wound or it becomes infected with germs. If you sweat in summer, we recommend that you change your dressing more frequently. If there is redness or discharge at the wound site, be sure to inform your doctor. Don’t worry, there may be tingling, numbness, stiffness, or even slight swelling at the surgery site.
Starting from the first day after the surgery, you can bathe the wound with a waterproof dressing and take a shower. It is important that water does not touch the wound area in terms of infection. After bathing, change your dressing and cover it with a normal dressing system. After 1 week to 10 days, after the wound is closed, you can take an open shower, but do not rub the wound area, if there is, wait for the scabs to fall off on their own.
Substances harmful to health should not be used during the wound healing period. They negatively affect wound healing. Smoking is one of the causes of hernia formation as it damages the intervertebral disc structure.
In general, it is appropriate to use an orthopedic neck pillow. However, some people are more comfortable on a high pillow or a low pillow. Some people say that they cannot feel comfortable on orthopedic type pillows. Our recommendation is to use the type of pillow that makes your head most comfortable, allows you to fall asleep easily and wake up without any pain in the morning.
The healing process of the superficial wound, that is, the stitches, after the surgery is on average 1 week. The healing process of a deep wound, that is, the area in the spine area, takes an average of 1 month. For this reason, you need to make an appointment with your doctor for your first check-up within 1 week-10 days after the surgery and for your second check in the 1st month. Your examinations after 3 months and 1 year are important in terms of evaluating the strength of your neck and arm muscles and your sensory function.
There is no harm in going home sitting in the vehicle after you are discharged. Since you cannot turn your neck left and right with a neck brace, it is not recommended to drive for traffic safety reasons. For a long trip, it is beneficial to take at least 1 week and 10 days. If you need to make such a trip, be sure to consult your doctor. In later periods, using a soft sponge type neck collar on long journeys can make you feel more comfortable. Short stretching movements during breaks will reduce muscle pain.
In patients using a neck brace, weakening of the neck muscles may occur because the muscles and joints remain immobile for a period of time. To prevent this, you should remove the neck brace gradually (first remove it for half an hour, then put it back on, rest, then gradually increase the removal time) and in the meantime, repeat the neck and shoulder exercises given to you by your doctor frequently during the day. These exercises are important to strengthen your neck muscles and prevent muscle pain. In fact, doing these exercises regularly as a part of your life will play an important role in preventing new hernias and neck pain.