Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Cervical Fusion Surgery

 

Q1. I was instructed to wear a cervical collar. How long will I have to wear it for?

A. If you have had a fusion, instructed to wear a collar and left the hospital with a cervical collar, you will wear your cervical collar for up to three (3) months.

Q2. I was instructed to wear a cervical collar, when/how many hours a day do I need to wear my cervical collar?

A. If you were instructed to wear a cervical collar you will wear your collar 24 hours a day. You may briefly remove it to change into your shower collar (hard foam), but you should always have a cervical collar on.

Q3. What if the pads on my neck brace get dirty?

A. You can wash the pads by hand with a mild detergent, and let them dry thoroughly before putting them back on the brace and you.

Q4. When can I ride in a car?

A. Do not ride in a car for one (1) week after surgery unless necessary. After that, it is usually okay to ride in a car for a few hours as long as you make frequent stops to get out and stretch. As always, listen to your body and don’t overdo it. If your neck starts to hurt more than usual, you’re probably overdoing it.

Q5. When can I start driving?

A. You cannot drive, by law, while wearing a cervical collar. Therefore, you will not be able to drive for up to three (3) months after surgery if you were instructed to wear a cervical collar. If you were not instructed to wear a collar, you can drive typically one (1) month after surgery.

Q6. The pain I was having before surgery didn’t go away fully after surgery. Is that normal?

A. Some people do get immediate relief after surgery. However, it is completely normal to experience some of the same symptoms you had before your surgery. This is due to many reasons and varies from person to person. However, if you experience new pain or numbness contact Dr. Morreale’s office. It is normal to experience some muscle cramping or spasms after surgery as well as some pain around the incision. If you were given muscle relaxants at the hospital these should help with the cramps and spasms.

Q7. When can I take a shower?

A. You can take a shower the day after surgery with a protective film called Tegaderm® which will be supplied to you by the hospital. Three (3) days after your surgery, you may shower without the Tegaderm®. If instructed to wear a cervical collar, you must wear it in the shower.  You will be given a shower collar in the hospital. When you do shower, do not let water directly hit the incision. Instead, let the water run down over the incision. Do not use soap, or scrub your incision, and do not soak your incision. Pat dry the incision with a clean towel then dry the rest of your body.

Q8. When can I take a bath?

A. Do not take a bath or soak your incision in any way, including hot tubs, or Jacuzzis until the incision is completely healed (usually about one (1) month).

Q9. Can I put lotion or powder on my incision?

A. No, you should not put lotion or powder on or around your incision until it is completely healed (usually about one (1) month).

Q10. My incision has strips of tape over it. When will they come off?

A. These tapes are Steri-Strips® and are used to help the incision heal better. Typically they will fall off by themselves. However; if they have not come off in 7 days after your surgery you can gently pull them off. It helps to do this after a warm shower when the adhesive is moist.

Q11. My incision looks red and swollen, or it has a foul smelling drainage coming from it. 

What should I do?

A. If your incision becomes red, swollen, or has a drainage that is not clear, or smells bad, call Dr. Morreale’s office. You should also call us if you have severe pain that is not being relieved by the pain medication that was prescribed.

Q12. A few days after I got home from the hospital I noticed I started to get a fever. 

What should I do?

A. If your fever is 101 degrees or higher (by mouth) call Dr. Morreale’s office or your primary care provider.

Q13. How long will I be off work?

A. Most patients who have cervical (neck) fusion will be off work for up to three (3) months. This is to allow the new bone to grow in your neck without risking the possibility of injuring or slowing down the recovery process of the fusion. If you did not have a fusion, you will typically be off work for one (1) month.

Q14. I have a hard time sleeping with my neck brace on. Can I take it off to sleep?

A. No. Many people have a difficult time sleeping with their neck brace, but it is very important to keep it on during the night. You can sleep in any position that is comfortable. However you should not use a pillow that will bend your neck/head. Typically, most people get used to sleeping with their collar after a few weeks.

Q15. I had surgery on the front of my neck and have difficulty swallowing. 

Is something wrong?

A. This is common after having neck surgery from the front (anterior), and usually gets better with time. Contact Dr. Morreale’s office if your swallowing problems do not get better.

Q16. I have been very constipated since surgery. What can I do?

A. Many people become constipated after surgery. This is most commonly due to the pain medication. To help, try and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Also, you may use an over the counter stool softener such as “Colace.”

Frequently Asked Surgery About Lumbar Fusion Surgery

  

Q1. How long do I have to wear my back brace?

A. You will wear your back brace for up to three (3) months.

Q2. When/how many hours a day do I need to wear my back brace?

A. Wear your back brace anytime that you are not lying down in bed or couch, or sitting in a supportive chair. This includes walking around your house and taking walks outside and any other activity that may involve twisting or bending. However, you do not need to wear your brace when using the toilet.

Q3. When can I ride in a car?

A. Do not drive or ride in a car for one (1) week after surgery unless necessary. After that, it is usually okay to ride in a car for a few hours as long as you make frequent stops to get out and stretch. As always, listen to your body and don’t overdo it. If your back starts to hurt more than usual, you’re probably overdoing it.

Q4. When can I start driving?

A. Most patients can start driving one (1) month after surgery, but this may vary between individuals.

Q5. The pain I was having before surgery didn’t go away fully after surgery. Is that normal?

A. Some people do get immediate relief after surgery; however, it is completely normal to experience some of the same symptoms you had before your surgery. This is due to many reasons, and varies from person to person. However, if you experience new pain or numbness contact Dr. Morreale’s office. It is normal to experience some muscle cramping or spasms after surgery, as well as some pain around the incision. If you were given muscle relaxants at the hospital these should help with the cramps and spasms.

Q6. When can I take a shower?

A. You can take a shower the day after surgery with a protective film called Tegaderm® which will be supplied to you by the hospital. Three (3) days after your surgery, you may shower without the Tegaderm®. When you do shower, do not let water directly hit the incision. Instead, let the water run down over the incision. Do not use soap, or scrub your incision, and do not soak your incision. Pat dry the incision with a clean towel, then dry the rest of your body.

Q7. When can I take a bath?

A. Do not take a bath or soak your incision in any way, including hot tubs, or Jacuzzis until the incision is completely healed (usually about one (1) month).

Q8. Can I put lotion or powder on my incision?

A. No, you should not put lotion or powder on or around your incision until it is completely healed (usually about one (1) month).

Q9.  My incision has strips of tape over it. When will they come off?

A. These tapes are Steri-Strips® and are used to help the incision heal better. Typically they will fall off by themselves. However, if they have not come off in 7 days after your surgery you can gently pull them off. It helps to do this after a warm shower when the adhesive is moist.

Q10.  My incision looks red and swollen, or it has a foul smelling drainage coming from it. 

What should I do?

A. If your incision becomes red, swollen, or has a drainage that is not clear, or smells bad, call Dr. Morreale’s office. You should also call us if you have severe pain that is not being relieved by the pain medication that was prescribed.

Q11.  A few days after I got home from the hospital I noticed I started to get a fever. 

What should I do?

A. If your fever is 101 degrees or higher (by mouth) call Dr. Morreale’s office or your primary care provider.

Q12.  How long will I be off work?

A. Most patients who have lumbar (back) fusion will be off work for up to three (3) months. This is to allow the new bone to grow in your back without risking the possibility of injuring or slowing down the recovery process of the fusion.

Q13.  I have been given a bone growth stimulator. How long do I have to wear it?

A. Typically you wear it for 6-9 months. Your actual time may be less or more depending on how fast the new bone grows. This will be assessed at each doctor’s visit.

Q14.  I have been very constipated since surgery. What can I do?

A. Many people become constipated after surgery. This is most commonly due to the pain medication. To help, try and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Also, you may use an over the counter stool softener such as “Colace.”