Patients require several months of rehabilitation after undergoing cervical fusion surgery in order to receive the full benefits from the procedure. Although many patients notice immediate improvement after surgery, rehabilitation is still required to strengthen weakened muscles and soft tissue that surround and support the neck, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Cervical spine fusion surgery typically lasts several hours. A comprehensive rehabilitation program, including exercise and therapy, is required to strengthen the neck, shoulders and arms following surgery, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Most cervical spine procedures require only a short hospital stay. Physical therapy usually begins the day after surgery is performed, and it involves sitting on the edge of the bed and standing with support under the supervision of a physical therapist. Wearing a cervical brace is required. Walking is approached gradually and is guided by the therapist to avoid further injury. Exercises to ease leg soreness may be prescribed. Antibiotics to help prevent infection are given intravenously for the first 24 hours, along with pain medication. After the first day, pain medications are given orally. Physical therapy focuses on safe mobility and breathing exercises to help strengthen lung capacity and circulation, which help patients heal faster, states the University of Maryland Medical Center.