Patient will be issued a cervical collar brace for use after surgery. This brace should be brought to the hospital on the day of surgery.

Acute Phase: 1 day - 4 weeks

  • Hospital stay: 1-2 days
  • Hospital instructions will be given for safe transfers and bed mobility.
  • Dressing change will occur at home every other day.
  • Post-op day 1 or 2 patient will be discharged either home or to a rehabilitation facility depending upon level of safety and independence.
  • Sponge bathing (to keep incision dry) is to be performed until removal of staples (2 weeks post-op).
  • Incentive spirometry 4 times daily.
  • Neck brace to be worn at all times with no pillows when flat on back.. May use a wedge pillow.
  • Begin Home exercise program attached.
  • TED stocking to be worn most of the time. Only removed 2-3 times per day for ½ hour to wash lower extremity (until 1st post-operative appointment).
  • Do ankle pumps on an hourly basis to promote circulation.
  • Continue to take prescribed pain medication and use ice as needed for pain control.
  • Bone stimulator may be used per M.D. discretion and will be fit and set up by representative (EBI/TERA).
  • Therapeutic exercises include: walking to tolerance.


No lifting, pulling, pushing more than 10 lbs. No climbing. May drive at 2 weeks post-op with collar on.

Red Flags:

If you develop fever, chills, malaise, shortness of breath, excessive drainage, redness, or extreme pain and tenderness in calf region contact physician (315) 824-1250.

Subacute Phase: 4-8 weeks

  • Follow-up x-rays may be taken at 2 weeks and 6 weeks to demonstrate the beginning of bone healing at fusion site.
  • Lifting restrictions (10lbs).
  • No power tools.

Remodeling Phase: 8 weeks

  • Fusion may take 6 months to 1 year to fully heal.
  • Brace removed at approximately 8 weeks, if indicated will begin physical therapy.
  • After brace is removed cervical ROM is allowed to tolerance in all planes of motion, beginning with mid range and working to end range as pain allows.
  • Physical therapy will emphasize spine neutral, improving postural awareness, lower and upper extremity strengthening, flexibility and nerve root glides, and improving functional activities of daily living (walking, stair climbing, etc).
  • Return to prior level of function and work related activities (pending M.D. orders and release).
  • Return to full function without limits at 12 weeks post-operative.