My sister is a physical therapist. She's been helping me after my recent surgery to fuse two bones in my neck. She says I don't really need the neck brace I was given, but it scares me to go without it. Is it safe to go without it now?
It's fairly routine to give a patient a cervical neck brace after neck fusion. But according to the results of a study done in multiple U.S. centers, bracing isn't always needed. Fusion rates and return-to-work status were the same with or without the bracing. These findings apply to patients who had a single-level anterior cervical disc fusion (ACDF). Surgeons involved in the study say these results makes sense because the fusion was done with a metal plate along the front of the spine that was combined with bone graft at the same site. Bracing used to restrict motion isn't needed because the plate and graft material have the same effect of preventing motion. You should ask your surgeon this question. You may have had a procedure that really requires follow-up bracing. Or you may be able to discontinue wearing the support. Most often, it's not recommended that patients get too dependent on the support the brace offers. Muscles quickly weaken, which can add to your pain. This creates an even greater dependency on a brace you may not really need in the first place.