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Cervical Fusion

Old 03-13-20, 07:13 AM
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Cervical Fusion

I'm 2 weeks post cervical fusion and earlier this week had the followup visit with the surgeon. I had C4-6 fused, so 2 levels. From what I had read before, I wasn't figuring to be back on the bike for awhile. My LBS had a single level fusion and it was 6 months before they gave him the go-ahead. Imagine my surprise when my Dr. said I could begin immediate work on the trainer (smart w/ Rouvy) and would probably be outside riding in a month! It helps that he does some cycling and knew that last summer I had successfully completed the Trans Am Bike Race. He told me he wasn't going to treat me like his average patients. Not wanting to let it go to my head and ego, but I feel pretty fortunate considering. Now we will see how it plays out.
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Old 03-13-20, 07:18 AM
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Great to hear the surgery was so successful!! Sounds like your doc expects you should heal and recover quickly. Wish you the best and that the doc is spot on!
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Old 03-13-20, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
I'm 2 weeks post cervical fusion and earlier this week had the followup visit with the surgeon. I had C4-6 fused, so 2 levels. From what I had read before, I wasn't figuring to be back on the bike for awhile. My LBS had a single level fusion and it was 6 months before they gave him the go-ahead. Imagine my surprise when my Dr. said I could begin immediate work on the trainer (smart w/ Rouvy) and would probably be outside riding in a month! It helps that he does some cycling and knew that last summer I had successfully completed the Trans Am Bike Race. He told me he wasn't going to treat me like his average patients. Not wanting to let it go to my head and ego, but I feel pretty fortunate considering. Now we will see how it plays out.
Been there myself. One of the benefits of an active lifestyle. Casts and slings have been one of the costs for me. lol
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Old 03-13-20, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Been there myself. One of the benefits of an active lifestyle. Casts and slings have been one of the costs for me. lol
395, what was your experience? I know everybody's different, but I like to hear their stories and maybe learn a thing or two.
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Old 03-13-20, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
395, what was your experience? I know everybody's different, but I like to hear their stories and maybe learn a thing or two.
When I crushed my upper tibia in 2018, my injury was about 4 mm of displacement. With that amount, I was on the cusp of whether surgery was recommended to fix it. Believe it or not, they would recommend PT and NO surgery for most our age. I found that really odd, since there was an obvious deformity, and over time, it was certain to take my whole knee.

When I went to see the knee surgeon, I asked him if there was any chance of recovering in time to do the RAAM ... a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. He said that given my level of activity and conditioning, he thought it was possible, but no promises. Then this (paraphrasing):

"A lot of the outcomes on this type of injury depend on the condition of the patient when the injury occurred and how motivated they are to do what is necessary to recover. You're in exceptional condition for your age, and you are clearly motivated, so my biggest problem is going to be trying to keep you from doing too much. You need to stay completely off of it until our next appointment, and we'll talk from there."

I did as much as a could as soon as he would let me. Rode a stationary bike, diligently did PT ... all of it. I even kept in shape by hobbling everywhere with the crutches ... in some cases a couple of miles! I got lucky and he released me to do the RAAM ... only 2 days before the start. He told me to be "reasonable."

"You mean ... use pain as my guide?"

"I know too many cyclists to say that. Just be reasonable."



Great surgeon. He recently retired and I talked him into doing Machu Picchu.
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Old 03-13-20, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
395, what was your experience? I know everybody's different, but I like to hear their stories and maybe learn a thing or two.
I had a C3-C4 fusion 22 months ago. I was reasonably diligent with the post-op exercises and kept the neck brace on for the time the doc suggested. I was back riding in around 3-4 months although it could have been a bit sooner if I had been more confident. I did no stationary cycling as I hate it with a vengeance and relied on walking for fitness maintenance. For the first couple of weeks I rode a flat bar bike because I was a bit nervous of the neck position with drop bars, and it was a bit tiring on the neck at first, but I soon got used to it and returned to my road bike.


There were a couple of post-op issues, the first being headaches for a month or three, but the doc told me not to worry because my neck had gone through serious trauma and that was just the nerves and muscles around my head learning to adjust to the slight change in alignment in my neck post-fusion that my head had taken more than 70 years to get used to. He was right and the headaches disappeared after a few months.


The second was some restriction in the rotational and lateral movement in my neck which caused some problems looking over my shoulder when cycling. If I am honest it is still not quite as good as it was pre-op, but I eventually learned to cope with that and it has not lessened my enjoyment of riding. In life off the bike it causes me no problems at all.


I don't know about your op, but the incision for mine was in the front of my neck and they had to move my windpipe to one side to fuse the vertebrae with a metal plate on the inside. I was worried about it affecting my good looks, but my wife said I had nothing to worry about on that issue.

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Old 03-13-20, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
Great to hear the surgery was so successful!! Sounds like your doc expects you should heal and recover quickly. Wish you the best and that the doc is spot on!
Thanks Freeranger! I hope the Doc is correct also!
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Old 03-13-20, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
When I crushed my upper tibia in 2018, my injury was about 4 mm of displacement. With that amount, I was on the cusp of whether surgery was recommended to fix it. Believe it or not, they would recommend PT and NO surgery for most our age. I found that really odd, since there was an obvious deformity, and over time, it was certain to take my whole knee.

When I went to see the knee surgeon, I asked him if there was any chance of recovering in time to do the RAAM ... a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. He said that given my level of activity and conditioning, he thought it was possible, but no promises. Then this (paraphrasing):

"A lot of the outcomes on this type of injury depend on the condition of the patient when the injury occurred and how motivated they are to do what is necessary to recover. You're in exceptional condition for your age, and you are clearly motivated, so my biggest problem is going to be trying to keep you from doing too much. You need to stay completely off of it until our next appointment, and we'll talk from there."

I did as much as a could as soon as he would let me. Rode a stationary bike, diligently did PT ... all of it. I even kept in shape by hobbling everywhere with the crutches ... in some cases a couple of miles! I got lucky and he released me to do the RAAM ... only 2 days before the start. He told me to be "reasonable."

"You mean ... use pain as my guide?"

"I know too many cyclists to say that. Just be reasonable."



Great surgeon. He recently retired and I talked him into doing Machu Picchu.
Thanks for sharing that! It is interesting how age plays a part in treatment. I can understand some of it, but I bulk where they may be underestimating life span or better yet, active life span. Question? How did the RAAM go?
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Old 03-13-20, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Gerryattrick View Post
I had a C3-C4 fusion 22 months ago. I was reasonably diligent with the post-op exercises and kept the neck brace on for the time the doc suggested. I was back riding in around 3-4 months although it could have been a bit sooner if I had been more confident. I did no stationary cycling as I hate it with a vengeance and relied on walking for fitness maintenance. For the first couple of weeks I rode a flat bar bike because I was a bit nervous of the neck position with drop bars, and it was a bit tiring on the neck at first, but I soon got used to it and returned to my road bike.


There were a couple of post-op issues, the first being headaches for a month or three, but the doc told me not to worry because my neck had gone through serious trauma and that was just the nerves and muscles around my head learning to adjust to the slight change in alignment in my neck post-fusion that my head had taken more than 70 years to get used to. He was right and the headaches disappeared after a few months.


The second was some restriction in the rotational and lateral movement in my neck which caused some problems looking over my shoulder when cycling. If I am honest it is still not quite as good as it was pre-op, but I eventually learned to cope with that and it has not lessened my enjoyment of riding. In life off the bike it causes me no problems at all.


I don't know about your op, but the incision for mine was in the front of my neck and they had to move my windpipe to one side to fuse the vertebrae with a metal plate on the inside. I was worried about it affecting my good looks, but my wife said I had nothing to worry about on that issue.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I usually don't really care for the trainer, but with a smart trainer and Rouvy, it makes it pretty tolerable. I plan to ride in Hawaii tonight! My plan is to gain back most, or at least a big chunk, of my lost fitness on the trainer. Trying to work in some core exercises and stretching. Some I can do, some not yet. My neck feels really good, arm pain is gone. The pain in my hip from the bone graft is real though. Limits my sleep position options. I did have the front throat incision. Wife knows it can only improve my looks! But I know they moved some things. Voice is mostly good. Swallowing can be a problem at times, but mostly ok.
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Old 03-13-20, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
Thanks for sharing that! It is interesting how age plays a part in treatment. I can understand some of it, but I bulk where they may be underestimating life span or better yet, active life span. Question? How did the RAAM go?
Worked out great! I was hobbling around on crutches at the start, but got stronger and stronger as we went.

There is a video somewhere out there in Internetland. I'll see if I can find it.

Until then, this is us at the finish. We finished in the middle of our age group, and I'm the bloke on lookers left.

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Old 03-13-20, 06:23 PM
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Here ya go ... a link to the video. It was AWESOME.

https://bqecore.wistia.com/medias/lkxvlq0ai8
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Old 03-13-20, 06:26 PM
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I crashed on 7/24/13 and broke my neck. I had C1 & C2 fused. Home from the hospital on 8/1 and back on the bike mid-Nov. Just listen to what the docs tell you to do. Good luck.
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Old 03-14-20, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Here ya go ... a link to the video. It was AWESOME.

https://bqecore.wistia.com/medias/lkxvlq0ai8
That's an awesome video! My hat is off to you for getting to the starting line, let alone being a big part of a great accomplishment! It is interesting to compare how much the Trans Am Bike Race has in common with the RAAM, as well as how much they differ. I'm interested in how your 4 hours on/ 4 hours off went. How hard was it to transition between each? What kind of a pattern or routine with eating, sleeping and such did you develop? What was the hardest thing about the ride?
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Old 03-14-20, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I crashed on 7/24/13 and broke my neck. I had C1 & C2 fused. Home from the hospital on 8/1 and back on the bike mid-Nov. Just listen to what the docs tell you to do. Good luck.
Wow. Any problems with it since?
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Old 03-14-20, 03:02 AM
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Originally Posted by gif4445 View Post
Wow. Any problems with it since?
Limited ROM, left and right. But, not bad and I now use an Italian Road Bike mirror.
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Old 03-15-20, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
Great to hear the surgery was so successful!! Sounds like your doc expects you should heal and recover quickly. Wish you the best and that the doc is spot on!
+1!

Best regards
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Old 03-15-20, 05:29 PM
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I have moderate-to-severe arthritis in my C3-C4, and actually retired from work because I had very limited ROM turning my head to the left to look for traffic. As a curbside mail carrier, it is hard driving in city traffic without looking over your shoulder! As I was retirement age, I chose retirement over medical disability because I didn't want 'them' spying on me for the rest of my life... I had already gone through physical therapy, and then nerve block, and then nerve 'burn' to no avail.

That was seven years ago, and the pain-in-the-neck is becoming more of a pain in the neck. Still hurts like heck. Even driving on the Interstate become unbearable after a few hours. I'm looking into options....
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Old 03-18-20, 11:36 PM
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Had a 2 level cervical fusion 6 months ago. Took nothing for pain postop. Held off on the bike for a while, as the surgeon requested. Back to riding without much of a problem. I had already changed to upright bars due to pain before surgery.Staying with them, Iíve gotten to like them and see no reason to change.
Iíll


Was way easier on me than I thought it would be.
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Old 04-12-20, 04:32 PM
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Six weeks post op and yesterday rode my bike a couple miles. No problem. Only rode because of work. (I farm for a living and needed to get some equipment back to the home place. Bike was the most convenient way to do it). It was on gravel, not the safest environment to start, but it turned out ok. Now out of the fields, as it has turned cold and snowed a little today. Time to hit the trainer.
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