How Long Does it Take to Recover from Neck Surgery?

Article featured on Arkansas Surgical Hospital
The time it takes to recover from neck surgery depends on several factors, including the type of surgery you have, the extent of your condition, and your overall health. Discussing your options with your surgeon will give you a clearer picture of your predicted recovery time.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

There are many causes of neck pain, including poor posture, muscle strain, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease. Some neck pain can be treated with conservative measures such as ice, heat, over-the-counter medication, or steroid injections. However, surgery may be required if your neck pain is severe or persists for more than a few weeks.

Warning Signs of a Serious Injury

If you have any of the following signs of a serious neck injury, talk to your doctor right away:

  • Severe pain that doesn’t go away with over-the-counter medication
  • Intense headaches that are not relieved by medication
  • Loss of feeling or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of coordination in the arms or legs
  • Difficulty walking or standing upright

Surgical Options for Neck Pain

If your neck pain has persisted through conservative treatment options without relief, it may be time to ask your doctor whether surgery may be the answer. Surgical options for neck pain vary by each individual and their condition. If you are unsure about what is best for you, consult with your doctor.

Some common neck surgery procedures include:

  • Fusion. In a cervical fusion surgery, two or more vertebrae in your neck are fused together, often using a plate of metal or another material. Spinal fusion stabilizes the vertebrae and reduces pain.
  • Laminectomy. Cervical laminectomy removes a part of the vertebrae called the lamina. The surgery aims to ease pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Discectomy. Like a laminectomy, a discectomy is a type of spinal decompression surgery. A cervical discectomy is the removal of a damaged disc between two vertebrae. It is often accompanied by a fusion procedure to keep the vertebrae stable.

Most people spend a few days in the hospital after undergoing neck surgery. During this time, you will be monitored closely, and you won’t be able to move your head or neck much. Once you’re home, you will need to take it easy for several weeks, so it’s important to have a support system in place. You will be able to gradually increase your activity as the pain and swelling goes away.

Recovering from Neck Surgery

Recovery from neck surgery typically ranges from one to six months, but some cases can take longer. Your surgeon will determine a more specific time frame after evaluating your condition and discussing which procedure is right for you based on your diagnosis.

In the months following your surgery, you will have follow-up appointments with your surgeon to check your progress. Each situation is unique: your recovery time depends on the type of procedure performed and the severity of the symptoms you had before surgery. The specific length of time depends on what was done during your procedure and how well it went.

Factors that affect recovery time from neck surgery include:

  • The type of surgery you had
  • How many vertebrae were affected
  • The state of your health before surgery
  • Whether you experience any complications after surgery
  • Whether you follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to return to work in a few weeks. Other patients may take as long as three months to get back to work. In general, most people fully recover from neck surgery after six months, but some patients can take up to a year or more.

There are some things you can do to help with your recovery. For example, practice good posture at all times. Always follow the instructions your surgeon gives when recovering from neck surgery.

Is Neck Surgery Right for You?

If you have tried other treatments for chronic neck pain with no relief, it may be time to consider surgery.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.