For one to four weeks after ACDF surgery, many patients experience some hoarseness, a sore throat, or difficulty swallowing solids.
You’ll need to contact your doctor immediately if you develop any swallowing problems that interfere with your ability to breathe or drink liquids.
It’s important to keep an eye on the incision. If it becomes red, tender, if there’s drainage, or if you have a fever over 101 degrees, it’s time to call your doctor.
The initial recovery generally lasts about four weeks before you feel completely like yourself. During this time, your surgeon will take X-rays of your spine and will use the X-rays to figure out the best time for you to return to your daily activities and work. Be aware that driving requires a lot of head motion so discuss this, and sexual activity, with your doctor. Generally, for the first few weeks after the ACDF procedure, heavy lifting and heavy household chores are discouraged.
Sometimes a cervical collar or brace is worn during recovery to limit motion and help with healing. Your doctor may also prescribe physical therapy once your neck has healed.
It typically takes about 3 to 6 months for the bone to heal completely, and your doctor will confirm this with X-rays. Until that time, high intensity activities like running should be avoided.