Recovery for this surgery is reasonably quick as only the skin incision and muscle fascia inside the incision has to heal. A neck collar is generally worn for 3 weeks – on and off.
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.
The incision care will need to be done with a friend as the incision is not accessible by only you. Please see that section on incision care. Normally, the posterior neck incision is healed in 3 weeks as is the incision for muscle attachments inside.
Gentile “Around the Worlds” can be started immediately. “Yes- Nos” can be started in 1 week when out of the collar three times a day (see videos describing these). Physical therapy starts normally in about 3 weeks. Driving normally takes 3 weeks (see section on “driving test after cervical spine surgery”) before you are behind the wheel. Motorcycling takes 6-8 weeks.
Full activity can normally be resumed after a completed physical therapy program- in about 6-8 weeks.