Recovery after spinal surgery (neck or back) varies significantly in its difficulty. But more so than any other body part, your physical fitness BEFORE surgery can directly determine how well you will recover afterwards. Prior to your surgery, visit a physical therapist and determine what your need to ease your post-op recovery
Pain and discomfort are normal post-surgery, and can be treated with rest, ice, and pain medications. Even if you feel better than expected, be cautious: talk to your surgeon in case there are safety precautions or non-prescription alternatives. Opioids should be disposed of at a police station, as they are highly addictive and dangerous drugs and responsible for the growing opioid epidemic.
The type of surgery will determine how quickly your surgeon wants you to begin PT. It could be as soon as several days, or much longer with potential home-health PT.
When you begin PT, the surgical site is checked to make sure it is healing appropriately. Gentle ROM (range of motion) and flexibility exercises usually start early to get stubborn muscles working again. Shoulder and hip motion are also addressed, as they ease the burden on your back and neck.
As your pain decreases and your range of motion and strength increase, your PT will gradually escalate your activities. Whether your goals are house work, returning to your job or getting back to your sport, your PT is your partner through this journey.
There are always good days and bad days recovering from surgery, but remember that you are not going it alone. If you have questions as you progress, ask your PT. Their deep experience with spinal surgery means they can get you back on your feet!