Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion Post-Operative Instructions


  • If you have difficulty breathing, feel tightness in your throat or inability to swallow, you may have “airway compromise” and is a medical emergency. Seek evaluation at once.
  • You should be using a hard collar at all times when not sleeping.
  • If sitting, use only a straight back chair to ensure proper support not to exceed a half hour at a time. You may increase your sitting time slowly.
  • Lie only on a firm mattress, no couches or recliner chairs.
  • Absolutely no bending, stooping, pushing, lifting or straining.
  • Absolutely no driving for 6-12 weeks.
  • It’s normal to have mild sore throat/swallowing difficulty/hoarseness for several weeks. Over the counter throat lozenges and occasionally oral steroids may help decrease swelling.
  • Avoid housework, especially vacuuming and sweeping.
  • OK to cook, as long as you are not lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds.
  • Learn proper body mechanics to maintain a neutral spine position.
  • Wear Hard Cervical Collar is directed by Dr. Song.
  • Increasing pain is a red flag telling you to rest.
  • DO NOT: Engage in strenuous activity for at least 10 weeks after surgery.

1st Week Post-Operative:

  • May ride in a vehicle as a passenger, but no driving and no extended road trips. Keep the time in the car less than 20 minutes.
  • Walk around in your home on a smooth, flat surface. Try to be ambulating half of the day.
  • You may stair climb with assistance.
  • Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds
  • Take pain medication as directed, don’t try to “tough it out.” You will heal quicker if you feel better.

2nd Week Post-Operative:

  • Make sure to make your first post-op visit.
  • An exercise program will be discussed at your first visit.
  • Increase your walking to 1 mile per day if tolerated well.
  • Light housework but still no vacuuming or sweeping.
  • Refrain from sexual activity.

3rd Week Post-Operative:

  • You may resume sexual activity if relatively pain free.
  • Increase walking time and distance as tolerated.
  • Increase light housework as tolerated.
  • If you need to lift, don’t exceed 25 pounds using proper body mechanics
  • OK to use a hot tub or spa if you are “scab free.”

4th Week Post-Operative:

  • Gradually increase walking to 1-2 miles daily or as tolerated.
  • Increase housework as tolerated.
  • Return to work will be discussed with Dr. Song and will be patient specific.