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  1. #1
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    back surgery, rehab & riding

    I am due to have lumbar spinal surgery in 3 weeks. Riding has been one of the few things I do that actually releave the sciatic type pain I incessantly feel while walking. In fact, since I cannot walk more than 2 blocks (I live in bklyn, ny, so needless to say I haven't had a car in 20 yrs), I joke that my bikes are my wheelchairs. I hope come spring, when I should be well on my way to recovery, I can keep in cycling. Any stories, advice or warnings would be appreciated. Mark

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Not related to cycling but my neighbour had surgery last year- Now fully back at work and wrecking it by building a Patio in the garden with very heavy slabs that I won't lift- I just advise.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  3. #3
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    No back advice, but we will share some of the time off the bike together. The cataract surgery in my right eye is Thursday and the left will follow 3 weeks later. I was just informed that riding will be proscribed during the recovery (as will bending over to tie shoes etc) to keep from raising the pressure in the eyeballs. I'm trying to rush to get the MTB rebuilt before the surgery, but I fear that not all of the parts will arrive in time.

    Best of luck and swift healing.

  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    I'm trying to rush to get the MTB rebuilt before the surgery, but I fear that not all of the parts will arrive in time.

    Best of luck and swift healing.
    Don't worry- we'll get the forums mechanic to give you a hand- His Bike room is looking a bit empty at present and providing you can get the cat off his workbench- He will sort it out for you.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  5. #5
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    back surgery experience

    I had surgery at L3,4,5 in February. I also have a range of motion problem in my right HIP not related to the back problem but might have caused the back problem to some extent. In the past I had walked 1.5 miles per day for cardo purposes. After the back surgery, walking was required for rehab along with other rehab exercises. Upon release from the surgeon, he stated I should not walk for exercise. Bike riding was great but he wanted me in an upright position since so many years of back pain had resulted in a "Groucho" posture. I had a 3 speed old "English" bike that i had bought to occasionally ride with my grand daughters which I then started to ride daily. Soon it was 5 miles per day all on state and county paved roads. I was not really comfortable on the bike and upon finding this forum I learned about LBS and the need to find one to recommend what I should be riding. 1 1/2 weeks ago, I picked up my new Trek Pure and it is great. I could not believe the comfort level when I took it for a spin at the LBS. I sit in an upright position, high swept back handle bars, very comfortable saddle, 7 speed, 1.9" 26" tires. Great bike. I am now at nearly 7 miles per day and still learning about 7 speeds, cadence, etc.

    My recovery from the surgery was better than the surgeon expected but it did require a ton of exercises and following doctor's orders. I was lucky in that he did not add any "hardware" to the back. One ruptured disc(L3,4) and stenosis in all three vertebres. I have no pain at all! Lifting is the main concern along with working overhead (arms up and back bent back). I am learning to cope with these limitations. BTW, I am 66, retired, 6' 4", 225#. I hope your surgery is as successful as mine!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by popbreed View Post
    My recovery from the surgery was better than the surgeon expected but it did require a ton of exercises and following doctor's orders. I was lucky in that he did not add any "hardware" to the back. One ruptured disc(L3,4) and stenosis in all three vertebres. I have no pain at all! Lifting is the main concern along with working overhead (arms up and back bent back). I am learning to cope with these limitations. BTW, I am 66, retired, 6' 4", 225#. I hope your surgery is as successful as mine!
    Thanks so much for the response. I knew there had to be someone out there in a similar situation as I. My issue is stenosis at L4,5 with degeneration of disc and Spondylolisthesis. Six different surgeons have all recommended the same procedure which is basically spinal fusion with hardware. My doctor originally said that there would be minimal loss of motion bec. in that low region, there isnt that much motion to begin with. I have another pre-surgery consult next week, which will be the big q & a session.

    Any other advise of any kind, even the smallest seemingly insignificant thing which might make the recovery process less stressful would especially be helpful. Thanks so much. Mark

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    Mark,

    Be sure to review with the surgeon what you will need at home. The hospital PT group provided me with a walker to use at the hospital and to take home. They will probably have you walking at the hospital the next day after surgery. Door ways at you house must be wide enough to clear the walker (about 32"). You will need access to a shower with a place to sit in the shower. We ended up buying a medical chair for the shower. The PT people at the hospital should show the proper way of going up and down a step. We have no staircase in our house but I can imagine it would be difficult to climb with a walker. I only used the walker for one week. At the end of the week I was walking 15 to 20 minutes at a time (slowly). I wore off the 2 sets of stationary "shoes" (walker has 2 wheels and 2 stationery legs) and 2 sets of tennis balls replacing the "shoes". Concrete drives and paved streets wear them fast when you slide them along!!! Ask if a PT person will come to the house to check for any safety problems. I had a friend who is a Physical Rehabilitation Doctor guide us thru but the hospital PT visit verified we were in good shape. Glad to help and again hope your recovery is quick. Feel free to ask any additional questions.

    POP

  8. #8
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    When I had surgery on my back, it didn't involve the vertebrae but involved a 5" incision to get in and remove what was pressing on my sciatic nerve.....after 3 weeks, I was in PT and part of that was a recumbent bike with varying levels of difficulty. Started at 10 minutes at the end (45 minutes or so) of the other pt activities and built up to 30 minutes on the bike after 4 weeks. Take it slow and don't rush it.
    Last edited by homebody146; 09-14-09 at 01:32 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by popbreed View Post
    I had surgery at L3,4,5 in February. I also have a range of motion problem in my right HIP not related to the back problem but might have caused the back problem to some extent. In the past I had walked 1.5 miles per day for cardo purposes. After the back surgery, walking was required for rehab along with other rehab exercises. Upon release from the surgeon, he stated I should not walk for exercise. Bike riding was great but he wanted me in an upright position since so many years of back pain had resulted in a "Groucho" posture. I had a 3 speed old "English" bike that i had bought to occasionally ride with my grand daughters which I then started to ride daily. Soon it was 5 miles per day all on state and county paved roads. I was not really comfortable on the bike and upon finding this forum I learned about LBS and the need to find one to recommend what I should be riding. 1 1/2 weeks ago, I picked up my new Trek Pure and it is great. I could not believe the comfort level when I took it for a spin at the LBS. I sit in an upright position, high swept back handle bars, very comfortable saddle, 7 speed, 1.9" 26" tires. Great bike. I am now at nearly 7 miles per day and still learning about 7 speeds, cadence, etc.

    My recovery from the surgery was better than the surgeon expected but it did require a ton of exercises and following doctor's orders. I was lucky in that he did not add any "hardware" to the back. One ruptured disc(L3,4) and stenosis in all three vertebres. I have no pain at all! Lifting is the main concern along with working overhead (arms up and back bent back). I am learning to cope with these limitations. BTW, I am 66, retired, 6' 4", 225#. I hope your surgery is as successful as mine!
    That is a great story. I've never had a back problem and truly hope never to have one. For all the people I see that are disabled by back troubles, it is great to hear a success story. I'll bet that if you keep riding, losing weight and strengthineing your back, you could get a dropped bar bike in a year and really start to enjoy your cycling expereince.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Been there. Done that. Have the scar on the back to prove it. Siatic nerve pain was tremendous, so the surgery was hopefully my way to recovery. That was 11 years ago.

    It helped for a while, but the pain any time I walked for any time at all was very bad. Finally, about three years ago I started riding a bike seriously.

    Still cannot walk very far, but I do enjoy the bike riding.

    Actually, even though it is true that I still cannot walk much without pain from the siatic nerve, the bike riding has helped all other aspects of living with the bad back. L 5 will always be a problem for me, but the extra strength I get from riding has helped so much it is hard to explain.

    Good luck with the surgery and get back on the bike soon. It helps.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  11. #11
    Senior Member flan48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sugarcubed View Post
    I am due to have lumbar spinal surgery in 3 weeks. Riding has been one of the few things I do that actually releave the sciatic type pain I incessantly feel while walking. In fact, since I cannot walk more than 2 blocks (I live in bklyn, ny, so needless to say I haven't had a car in 20 yrs), I joke that my bikes are my wheelchairs. I hope come spring, when I should be well on my way to recovery, I can keep in cycling. Any stories, advice or warnings would be appreciated. Mark
    Sugar,
    I am sorry to hear of your problem and wish you all the best.
    Actually, I am now faced with the same issues. For about 2 1/2 years now I have had what turns out to be stenosis and spondliothesis in the L4/L5 area with a narrowing of the foramen and therefore nerve encroachment. I can not walk much more than 5 -8 minutes without pain radiating down the front of my lower right leg. I can, however, ride my bike (Giant OCR 3) with very little problem.

    Had another epidural injection 2 weeks ago which has offered some relief, but it is obvious to me, finally, that some sort of surgical intervention will be required soon.

    So, I once again wish you the best of success and hope you have a speedy recovery.
    Please give us periodic updates on your progress.

    Best regards
    Barry,68,New Jersey
    2012 Trek 7.4FX - Exercise for life

  12. #12
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    I have had back surgery, as well as a partial knee replacement and two abdominal surgeries. I am also a physician and my advice is to listen to your body. I was on the bike within a week of my knee and abdominal surgeries and on my recumbent bike within two weeks. If after my workout or the next day I had more pain and stiffness I would back off a little. If not, I would slowly increase the time/distance. I was back to my pre-operative routine within 10-12 weeks. We used to advise rest after surgery, now we are much more aggressive with physical therapy and rehabilitation. Good luck with your upcoming surgery.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonewolf48 View Post
    and my advice is to listen to your body. ...We used to advise rest after surgery, now we are much more aggressive with physical therapy and rehabilitation. Good luck with your upcoming surgery.
    Thank you. that advice is probably worth it all - much appreciated

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sugarcubed View Post
    I am due to have lumbar spinal surgery in 3 weeks. Riding has been one of the few things I do that actually releave the sciatic type pain I incessantly feel while walking. In fact, since I cannot walk more than 2 blocks (I live in bklyn, ny, so needless to say I haven't had a car in 20 yrs), I joke that my bikes are my wheelchairs. I hope come spring, when I should be well on my way to recovery, I can keep in cycling. Any stories, advice or warnings would be appreciated. Mark
    I'm sorry to hear of your pending surgery. I had similar surgery last June. While the intense pain subsided I still have pain. I have rods and screws as I had some slippage of my vertebra forward and bulging disks. I'm considering biking for exercise. I haven't biked in years but I'm afraid that walking as my only exercise might not always be good for my back pain. I'm very out of shape and have gained weight as a result of my inactivity. I think I need to sit upright on a bike and need to fell stable. What kind of bike can do that for me I don't know but I'm hoping to get some useful input from this forum. Best wishes to you on your surgery.

  15. #15
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    what kind of trek pure

    what kind of trek pure did you purchase?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3cats4me View Post
    I'm sorry to hear of your pending surgery. I had similar surgery last June. While the intense pain subsided I still have pain. I have rods and screws as I had some slippage of my vertebra forward and bulging disks. I'm considering biking for exercise. I haven't biked in years but I'm afraid that walking as my only exercise might not always be good for my back pain. I'm very out of shape and have gained weight as a result of my inactivity. I think I need to sit upright on a bike and need to fell stable. What kind of bike can do that for me I don't know but I'm hoping to get some useful input from this forum. Best wishes to you on your surgery.
    I am so sorry to hear that you still have pain. If you dont mind me asking, what was your diagnosis and what section of your spine did you have surgery? I would ask your physical therapist and doctor before you start with any exercise regimen but I think they would agree that cycling would be a great low impact, enjoyable therapy for you. There are so many bicycles on the market that you could use. I would suggest go to your local bike store and just take a look around. Tell them what your needs are and see what they recommend. Try out many bikes before you make your decision. Also do you live in a warm climate area or a 4 season area. Since its coming on the fall/winter you just might want to join a gym and use the stationary cycles. Those have nice upright positions and would be a good way to build up a bit of strength before hitting the road -- hope this helps.

    My surgery is now two weeks and counting -- wish me luck

  17. #17
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    I have had an L5-S1 fusion, which took a long time to heal (11 months) I was on the bike in 9 months, and doing tough rides in 10 months. Finally when the fusion became solid, I could really crank on the pedals. 3 years after surgery, I am still getting stronger. Have patience because the healing is a drawn out process.

  18. #18
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    Im glad to hear your surgery was a success. One question I have for you though is if your doctor perscribed any PT and how soon after the surgery did you start. 12 days and counting

  19. #19
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    3cats4me,

    I have the 7 speed version. I have second guessed that decision since the design provides me more speed than my old 3 speed and I wonder if I could gain additional speed with the 21 speed version. I assume I could upgrade the 7 to a 21 speed someday. But, as I read more and more of this forum I realize road speed is not everything and I should be concentrating to some extent on cadence (crank speed). I currently only have a cadence of 60 to 70 which is probably only 65% of where I should be. Once I have my cadence up to the 80 to 100 area, the 7 speed will be giving me all the speed I need in an upright position. Eventually, I may decide a more leaned over aero position may be possible and then need a different bike (N+1). LOL I should state although I really enjoy my daily rides of 7 to 9 miles, the prime purpose for them remains health and fitness. I expect to extend the daily rides until I am over 10 miles daily.

    Pop

  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by popbreed View Post
    3cats4me,

    I have the 7 speed version. I have second guessed that decision since the design provides me more speed than my old 3 speed and I wonder if I could gain additional speed with the 21 speed version. I assume I could upgrade the 7 to a 21 speed someday. But, as I read more and more of this forum I realize road speed is not everything and I should be concentrating to some extent on cadence (crank speed). I currently only have a cadence of 60 to 70 which is probably only 65% of where I should be. Once I have my cadence up to the 80 to 100 area, the 7 speed will be giving me all the speed I need in an upright position. Eventually, I may decide a more leaned over aero position may be possible and then need a different bike (N+1). LOL I should state although I really enjoy my daily rides of 7 to 9 miles, the prime purpose for them remains health and fitness. I expect to extend the daily rides until I am over 10 miles daily.

    Pop
    Cadence will not only help your speed (Or may not) but it will be better for the body. Mainly the legs but it also helps blood flow- heart rate and general fitness. But providing you are riding- it does not matter how fast you pedal the thing- you are getting benefit from riding.

    Getting milage up will assist in the fitness stakes- and I am worried now. Did you participate in the PIE ride? Because that is a 15 mile ride. If you did- then did you pay the penalty of only having half a slice?- or if you did not participate- then why not?
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  21. #21
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    I had an L4,5 lumbar laminectomy a couple days before last Xmas to address a severe sciatica problem in both legs. I have some disc degeneration and spondylolithesis (sp?) as well, but chose not to have a fusion which the first surgeon recommended but the second did not.

    I was up and walking right away, and worked up to 5 miles of walking per day within about six weeks. I first got back on my bike after about six weeks, and I took it pretty slow at first. It took about 6 months for full recovery, I am currently pain free but I do have some residual nerve damage that affects my toes in one leg, and some physical limitations as far as lifting and bending. I also continue to do daily physical therapy exercises to maintain abdominal and back strength. I am riding my bike as before, but I only ride bikes I can maintain a relatively upright posture on. My physical therapist recommended a recumbent but I haven't tried one yet.
    Last edited by randya; 09-30-09 at 08:49 AM.

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