Discharge Instructions for Cervical Disk Surgery

You had cervical disk surgery. This procedure can provide relief from neck and arm pain, numbness, and weakness. There are several types of cervical disk surgery. You and your healthcare provider decided on the type that was best for you. Below are tips to help speed your recovery from surgery.


  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for wearing a cervical collar or brace. The neck collar or brace is important because it supports and correctly positions your neck after surgery. Be sure to follow instructions for its care, use, and the length of time you must wear it.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK. This will most likely be when you can move your neck from side to side freely and without pain. Never drive while you are taking opioid pain medicine.

  • Walk as much as possible. You may also go up and down stairs as much as you can tolerate. Walking outside or walking on a treadmill at a slow speed with no incline is OK.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work.

Other home care

  • Take pain medicine exactly as directed. Avoid taking NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, for 6 months because it blocks bone fusion. 

  • Wait 5 to 7 days after your surgery to start showering. Then shower as needed. You may be instructed to use a neck collar while you shower. If so, carefully remove it or cover it with plastic wrap when you shower. Keep your neck correctly positioned as you gently pat dry your skin, the incision, and the neck collar. Then put the neck collar back on. Don’t rub the incision, or apply creams or lotions to it.

  • Don’t soak in bathtubs, hot tubs, or swimming pools until instructed by your healthcare provider.

  • Your incision may have been closed using sutures, staples, or strips of tape. If you have sutures or staples, they may need to be removed 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. You can allow strips of tape to fall off on their own.

  • If you smoke, get help to quit. Nicotine from cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or patches slows healing of bone and you may need more surgery. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.


Make a follow-up appointment, or as advised.

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trouble controlling your bowels or bladder

  • Painful calf that is warm to the touch and tender with pressure

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Drainage, redness, or warmth at the incision

  • Trouble swallowing, especially liquids

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your arms or legs

  • Swelling of the foot, ankle, or calf that is not relieved by elevating your feet

  • Increased pain