Posterior Cervical Fusion surgery has fusion involved (bone growth to join two or more segments together in the back of the neck). Bone takes time to grow and does not like to be disturbed. Motion definitely disturbs bone growth. Most likely, cables and or instrumentation have also been used in the neck to hold the fusing structures still. This instrumentation is reasonably strong but can be loosened with heavy activity. This is why a collar is used, to augment the hardware and protect the fusion.
Fusion normally takes 2 ½ to 3 months to take place in the back of the neck. During this time, you will be required to wear your collar.
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.
Physical therapy is started only after the fusion is solid- about 2 1/2 – 3 months. Full recovery (you can play sports again) is 3 ½- 5 months.
Unfortunately, driving cannot be accomplished until the collar is removed and full range of motion has returned.