I constantly see people wanting an instant fix for their neck pain. Many patients think that going right to surgery is going to be a magical cure-all for them. Or, they think that there’s a single neck pain treatment they can get to instantly solve their problems.
I feel so much empathy for these patients who come to me post-op or post-injury confused as to why they’re still dealing with such pain. It’s easy for people to get discouraged with injury after injury, flare up after flare up, and continued pain & discomfort post-surgery.
We’re going to be honest right out of the gate: this article is not going to give you “the secret” on how to heal neck pain. The fact is, there is no secret.
Recovery and prevention takes dedication and hard work from both the patient and the medical professional. While we don’t have a “cure” for you, what we do have are tips to set you up for success as you recover from neck pain related injuries or surgeries. And if you follow them, odds are in your favor that you’ll be on the road to recovery.
Speaking of which, we’re going to go over crucial steps you should take on your journey to a healthy recovery… as well as crucial things you cannot skip.
You’ve been in pain long enough. Let’s get started.
Setbacks and mistakes can be some of the biggest obstacles you face on a journey to recovery or healing. These are just a few of the most common setbacks we see at MOSS with neck pain recovery.
Not Following Your Treatment Plan & Leaving Therapy Too Soon
Listen, we get it. While you might love your physical therapist, you’d probably rather not go to therapy several times a week for months on end. You just want to be done and healed already! And you might even feel like you are.
However, it’s so important to continue working with your physical therapist and your therapeutic recovery plan until you’re cleared to decrease your appointments or leave altogether.
Think about it like this. When you go to the doctor with a sore throat, they might give you antibiotics. They’re sure to hammer it into your brain that you must take the full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better after only a couple doses.
Otherwise, you could be leaving behind harmful bacteria that could cause another infection and bring you right back to where you started.
The same principle applies to physical therapy. Completing the entire treatment regimen outlined for your post-op recovery or for your general condition is essential for getting & maintaining long-term results. Otherwise, you could end up right back where you started, even after getting surgery or months of treatment.
Something else to keep in mind: operative patients usually require more specific and strict therapeutic protocols during recovery. So if you’re coming to MOSS for neck surgery recovery, following your treatment plan is essential for proper recovery.
Not Going to Physical Therapy Often Enough (or At All)
This idea goes right along with that first setback. If your doctor recommends you go to physical therapy three to four times per week, that’s how long you should go. No ifs, ands, or buts.
We understand that it can be cumbersome and time consuming, but this is your health and comfort we’re talking about here. Slacking on your neck surgery recovery or physical therapy plan is only going to hurt you in the long run.
While it might feel like going once a week is enough, if the doc recommends twice per week, the reality is you’re really only doing half the work. Which isn’t going to get you healthy anytime soon.
Surgery Isn’t a Cure-All
Neck pain is painful and it can significantly change how you live your life. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 70 percent of people will experience neck pain in their lifetime that will interfere with daily activities.
So when it comes to neck pain, we understand that it’s easy to want there to be a cure-all, especially with surgical procedures. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
Surgery can be a huge step forward in your journey, but the recovery post-op is just as important. It’s also important to know that even with a great recovery post-op, the operation still isn’t a cure.
You’ll still need to put in the work and retrain your body to move and function in a way that will yield long-term recovery & results.
No Change in Behavior
Noticing a common theme here?
Physical therapy, surgeries, and other treatment methods won’t mean anything if you aren’t putting in the work to recover, change behavior, and heal.
Even the most perfectly performed surgery won’t lead to results if you go back to your old ways of slouching when you sit, being careless when lifting heavy things, not getting enough sleep, or not taking care of yourself.
To get those long term results you’ve been chasing, you’ll need to follow your recovery plan and get ready to change behavior how your medical team sees fit.
Don’t worry: at MOSS, we’ll help you identify harmful behaviors & movements that could be harming your progress. We’ll give you specific instructions and guidance to help you change for the better. And we will work with you to ensure the plan is the right fit for your condition.
Is your neck nagging you? Neck surgery recovery sound daunting?
Sign up for our FREE July 11 workshop that addresses common questions — and answers — about neck pain.
Focus on Prevention
Preventing pain, discomfort, and injury is one of the best ways to progress forward while simultaneously decreasing your risk of falling back to your original condition.
Remember: prevention and recovery are about hard work and long-term dedication. In order to get the healthful results you want, you have to change your behaviors.
While you’re taking care to avoid the setbacks we discussed, also take the time to practice the following:
Watch Your Posture
Our moms were onto something: good posture is so important for our overall health. Poor posture can worsen and trigger long-term back and neck issues.
These are just a few examples of times when many people have bad posture that can worsen their condition:
- Sitting at a desk all day with no breaks to move or stand
- Improper sleeping positions and/or pillows
- Positioning yourself too close or too far from the steering wheel
- Hunching over your computer, phone, a book, etc
Necks hunched over cell phones, craning your neck to see the movie screen, uncomfortable desk chairs that you sit in for 8 hours… the list of postural issues related to neck conditions can go on and on.
Take the time to change your posture if it’s causing you problems and work with your therapist to find positions and solutions that work for you. Check out our article on easy desk exercises to get started ASAP!
Take this one with a grain of salt. Obviously accidents are called accidents for a reason: if you could predict them, we’d just say stop hurting yourself! But, accidents happen.
There are, however, ways to protect yourself from some accidents. Simple example? If your neck isn’t mobile enough to see all around you or to react quickly, avoid driving.
We’d also recommend during your recovery and treatment that you avoid activities that could commonly lead to injuries. We won’t name them all, but contact sports, action sports, slippery surfaces, and large staircases are just a few things that can lead to major issues or cause re-injury.
Avoid Heavy Objects
As you recover and are looking to heal your injury, prevent worsened symptoms and reinjury by avoiding lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects. This means during regular life (like daily chores, lifting large items when moving, etc) and in sports.
This is especially true for those with neck injuries. Twisting or straining your neck can cause neck issues, even if you’re lifting with your arms or shoulders. Injuries to those areas can also cause neck issues as well.
Your best bet for neck surgery recovery is to take a load off and have someone else shovel your garden bed or politely decline when asked to help someone move (you probably wanted an excuse, anyway).
We’ve said it before and we will say it again. Neck surgery recovery and injury prevention takes dedication and hard work. Slacking on your exercises or failing to follow protocols will only serve to hurt and stall your progress at best. At worst, it could lead to another injury or going backwards on your journey.
Maintain mobility, flexibility, and strength by staying consistent with your recovery and actively working towards change.
Another note: just because your pain is gone doesn’t mean the work is done! Keep working hard even as you see progress to cement that progress in place and see continued success.
Curious to learn more about the neck pain treatments you could use to reduce your discomfort in the long-term?
MOSS Can Help You Recover
Neck surgery recovery and injury prevention are just two of the things that we do here at MOSS.
We tailor each patient’s treatment plan to their condition, comfort level, wants, needs, and health journey. We’re dedicated to making treatment plans that work for you in the long-term. And we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Contact us to set up an appointment and to learn more about how you can both treat and prevent neck pain & injuries.
If you’re experiencing neck pain, consider one of two options — or both. First off, give us a call for a FREE discovery visit with us. And second, sign up for our July 11 workshop specifically on neck pain. We’ll answer the most popular questions related to neck pain, neck pain treatment, and take any questions you might have.