Having an artificial disc implanted in the neck is stable from the closure of the incision. Obviously, healing of the incision takes place in about two weeks and care needs to be given to the incision (see incision care in this category). The rehabilitation has to do with increasing range of motion and then strengthening. The neck collars are used in the beginning to allow the muscles to adapt to the new motion segment.
You will be given 2 neck collars after surgery, a Miami J and a Philadelphia collar. The Miami J is white and blue- made out of hard plastic and padding and the Philly collar is a pink medium foam. Use the Miami J for daily use and the Philly for showering. After the shower, first dry your hair. Then sit upright, remove the Philly collar keeping your head still, towel dry your neck and put the Miami collar on. The Philly collar will be dry for the next shower’s use. Use of the collar is optional but most patients like them for the first week.
Gentle “Yes- Nos” can be started immediately as can “Around the Worlds” (see videos describing these). Physical therapy starts normally in about 2 weeks but if a mixed surgery is performed (fusion and ADR), physical therapy is started in six weeks.
Some patients develop dysphagia, swallowing difficulty after surgery for some days to weeks. The esophagus which is made of muscle is retracted during surgery. Muscle can dysfunction after retraction and swallowing is a coordinated muscle contraction to push food into the stomach. Some dysfunction can feel like food is getting caught. This feeling normally goes away after time. If swallowing is an issue, especially with pills, use a thicker liquid to swallow with. Yogurt or a smoothie can make swallowing much easier.
“Neck sit-ups” should not be done until the complete physical therapy program has been finished. This video is also displayed on this web site.
See also incision care and driving after cervical spine surgery.