Depending on the severity of the condition, both operations may involve a period of recovery. However, recovery from disc fusion typically takes several months, whereas disc replacement only takes a few weeks.
During this recovery period, it is likely that a patient will have to wear a brace after a fusion surgery during their healing process to provide extra support and stability. Disc replacement patients do not need to wear a brace. In addition, Dr. Johans might recommend physical therapy following surgery to help the affected area recover its full range of motion and strengthen arm muscles. While physical therapy is beneficial for both surgeries, it can be even more important after a fusion since patients may lose some of their original mobility when the vertebrae are fused together and must learn new ways to move. Patients who receive a cervical fusion will be able to return to full work duties after 3 months, but disc replacement patients can return to duty just 1 month after the surgery.