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Discharge Instructions for Cervical Fusion

You had a cervical fusion. During this procedure, your healthcare provider locked together (fused) some of the bones in the curve of your neck. This limits the movement of these bones to help ease your pain. Here’s what you need to know about home care after this surgery.


Do's and don'ts include: 

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for wearing a cervical collar or brace. The neck collar or brace supports and correctly positions your neck after surgery. Be sure to follow instructions for its care and use, including how long you must wear it.

  • Don’t bend or twist at the waist, or raise your hands over your head for 2 week(s) after your surgery.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK. This will most likely be when you can move your neck from side to side freely and without pain. Never drive while you are on opioid pain medicine.

  • Walk as much as possible. You may also go up and down stairs. Walking outside or walking on a treadmill at a slow speed with no incline is OK.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds (2.27 kg).

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can go back to work.

Other home care


  • Take your medicine exactly as directed. Talk to your healthcare provider about pain medicine.

  • Don’t take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen unless your healthcare provider says it's OK to do so. They may delay or block bone fusion.

  • Wait 5 to 7 days after your surgery to start showering. Then shower as needed. You may be instructed to use a neck collar while you shower. If so, carefully remove it when you finish showering. Then keep your neck correctly positioned as you gently pat dry your skin, the incision, and the neck collar. Then put the neck collar back on. Don’t rub the incision. Don't put creams or lotions on it.

  • Don’t soak in bathtubs, hot tubs, or swimming pools until told by your healthcare provider.

  • Your incision may have been closed using sutures, staples, or strips of tape. If you have sutures or staples, they may need to be removed 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. You can allow strips of tape to fall off on their own.

  • If you smoke, quit. Nicotine from any source (cigarettes, patches, chewing tobacco) slows healing of bone and you may need more surgery. Join a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.


  • Make a follow-up visit.

  • Keep appointments for X-rays. They will be taken often to check the status of the cervical fusion.

When to call 911 or your healthcare provider

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trouble controlling your bowels or bladder

  • Painful calf that is warm to the touch and tender with pressure

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • Drainage, redness, or warmth at the incision

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • Weakness, tingling, or any new numbness in your arms or legs

  • Increased pain

  • Trouble swallowing

Online Medical Reviewer: Jasmin, Luc, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2018
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.