Spine fusion is a process in which the surgeon removes the cartilage between two vertebrae and grafts the bones together to prevent them from moving. Surgeons use the procedure to treat several spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease, scoliosis and fractures from injury. In the neck, or cervical spine, the fused bones may prevent a full range of motion in your neck, such as tilting your head forward and back, or side to side. As with all surgery, you will have a recovery period before you can resume normal activities, including exercise.
Allow at least three months of recovery before resuming any exercise activities. It takes approximately three months for the grafted bones to heal. After the initial three-month period, the graft should strengthen, and website Spine Health says exercise can actually make the graft stronger.
Consult your physician after the three-month healing period to determine if the graft is strong enough to support exercise.
Consult with a physical therapist or a personal trainer who specializes in post-surgical exercise to create an exercise program appropriate for your level of recovery.
Start slowly and avoid exercises that tilt or rotate your head. Wear a cervical neck brace while exercising and focus on low-impact exercises, such as walking or water aerobics, for the first three months after the graft heals.
Avoid lifting more than five pounds during the first three months after the grafted bones heal. Heavy lifting might put strain on the shoulder girdle and cervical spine, which might cause the graft to break.
Gradually increase your exercise intensity, after three months of light exercise, and continue wearing the cervical brace if necessary.
Check in with your doctor frequently to chart your progress.
Consider low-impact, spine-strengthening exercises, such as yoga and Pilates, which can be done with modifications for spinal patients.
Consult your physician immediately if you experience pain, tingling or numbness in your neck, shoulders and arms; muscle weakness in your arms and shoulders; or loss of bladder or bowel control.