Having neck surgery when other treatments haven’t been effective can be a welcome source of relief, but there’s no procedure that guarantees you won’t have neck pain from other sources. If you’re in the process of recovering and getting back to your normal habits and routines, there are certain actions that will be good for you and others that could make your discomfort return. Keep this list of things that may help or hurt your neck in mind as you move forward post-surgery.
What Can Hurt Your Neck After Surgery?
Doing too much too soon is the main thing that could hurt your neck after surgery. Even if you have a desk job that doesn’t require much physical effort, sitting in a chair all day can contribute to renewed pain, especially if you’re not being mindful of your posture. It’s also important to be careful with:
- Your normal exercise routine
- Neck support when you’re driving
- Getting back to sports you like to play
Phone/mobile device use can also be a potential source of discomfort after neck surgery. If you use a traditional phone at work, avoid using your head and shoulders to support it while extending your neck to the side. With mobile devices, try to keep your smartphone or tablet at eye level, or at least try to avoid excessive craning of your neck.
Poor dietary choices may also slow your recovery. While it may be tempting to treat yourself to some ice cream or pizza after surgery, making a regular habit out of such eating habits could keep your neck from healing properly. Foods such as sugary snacks and processed foods can contribute to inflammation and affect circulation.
What Can Help Your Neck Post-Surgery?
It’s important to be careful with exercise after neck surgery, but not getting any exercise or staying in bed for weeks on end can weaken the muscles that support your cervical spine. Instead, get into the habit of moving by taking daily walks. Light exercise releases chemicals called endorphins that could naturally ease your post-surgery pain.
A physical therapist should be able to recommend specific neck exercises and stretches that could also help your tissues heal or restore your neck’s flexibility. You may also benefit from physical therapy techniques that include:
- Massage therapy
- Hot/cold applications
- Range-of-motion exercises
Also, listen to what your Los Angeles spine surgeon has to say. Even if you reach a point where you feel perfectly fine, there’s a reason you were told not to push yourself. Pay attention to guidelines with things like how you should bathe or shower. Ask your doctor about returning to work or getting back to the gym. You can also help your neck heal after surgery by:
- Watching your neck/spine alignment while sleeping
- Choosing foods that naturally fight inflammation like green leafy veggies, berries, and whole grains
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your day
- Using a neck roll or cushion when sitting or driving
It takes time for the bones, discs, soft tissues, and nerves of the neck to fully heal after surgery. Changing some of the habits that may be placing unnecessary stress on your neck and shoulders after surgery can help with the healing process and prevent reinjury. If you do experience any sudden or unusual pain in your neck, shoulders, or arms, meet with a spine surgeon to see if you might need minimally invasive neck surgery. Los Angeles residents can put their trust in Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute to diagnose the source of their pain and help them find effective relief. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.