Recovering from neck surgery
Recovering from neck surgeries such as a cervical discectomy or fusion can be a challenging process. Individuals can help their recovery while following the recommendations on postural positioning.
Patients need to feel good when waking up in the morning to make progress. Sleep with the neck and back appropriately supported in a straight position and avoid the neck in a side bent or rotated position. Pillows are often needed to support the spine and extremities to keep the spine straight. People who wake up with pain slept in unsupported positions or likely overdid their activities the day before.
Standing tends to be less aggravating than sitting; however, if sitting, support the upper extremities with pillows. A slight recline when sitting can decrease forces on the surgery site and allow neck muscles to relax. When sitting to drive, hold the steering wheel with a wide and low grip. Also, when driving, move the seat forward to limit the need to reach forward and cause a more slouching posture.
When eating, reading, or using a computer, stand at a high counter or sit with the chair positioned close to a table. A lap tray can also be used sitting on pillows and the head supported. This type of positioning keeps the spine in a more upright posture and lessens strain.
Hands-free use of a cell phone is least stressful on the neck, but if needing to hold the phone, support the elbows to prevent the neck from bending to the side for prolonged periods.
Each of these small tips can help to lessen neck strain and allow for a smoother recovery from neck surgery.