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How long till you were back on the bike after spinal fusion?

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How long till you were back on the bike after spinal fusion?

Old 02-14-11, 04:22 PM
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How long till you were back on the bike after spinal fusion?

Hi All,

Had spinal fusion of my l3/l4 done on December 2nd. Going to my 2nd check up on Wednesday and I feel like I can at least ride the trainer..

So I am just curious how long it took some of you to feel good enough to get back on the bike?

Thanks!
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Old 02-15-11, 09:58 AM
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Old 02-15-11, 10:43 AM
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I would think that the answer depends on how quickly you get a good fusion. As you likely know, the surgeon didn't actually fuse your spine. He set up conditions which encourage your spine to fuse itself. If you don't get a good fusion, its a problem. Thus I wouldn't do anything that could impair that process.

So follow your doctor's advise.
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Old 02-15-11, 07:04 PM
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L1,L2,L3, th11, th12, fusion with Harrington rods:
18 months before I had feeling in my lower extremities, 24 months before I could sit up assisted, 36 months till able to use a walker to "step" 4 feet, 48 months till able to walk with cane for short distance, 52 months able to use stationary cycle, around 5 years able to walk distance, ride bicycle...
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Old 02-15-11, 09:16 PM
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^ Dude, you had an f'd up spine, Statistics for success for a 3 level fusion are not good. Glad to hear that you're back riding even if it took awhile.
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Old 02-15-11, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by JaceK View Post
L1,L2,L3, th11, th12, fusion with Harrington rods:
18 months before I had feeling in my lower extremities, 24 months before I could sit up assisted, 36 months till able to use a walker to "step" 4 feet, 48 months till able to walk with cane for short distance, 52 months able to use stationary cycle, around 5 years able to walk distance, ride bicycle...
Whoa!! I couldn't even imagine that!! in June 09 I fractured my C2, C3, crushed the T8 T9 (which fused together themselves) and cracked a few others, Full Body and Neck Cast for 6 months and back on the Bike exactly 9 months to the Day after my Crash ( only 4 miles)... The Day after my Neurosurgeon told me never to ride again....

To the OP...get a step and try sitting on the Bike on a Trainer, that's what I did before I rode, then take it from there...

But don't take my advice, I'm not a Doctor.
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Old 02-16-11, 07:27 AM
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WTF! How did you guys fall to F-up your spine like that? Did you make a mistake while riding? Any type of spinal injury is the worst thing that can happen, besides cracking your head.
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Old 02-16-11, 07:44 AM
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I had spinal surgery to repair the damage from two ruptured discs and 4 months of misdiagnosis. About 6 weeks after the surgery I was back on the bike again.

Good luck with your recovery.
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Old 02-16-11, 08:17 AM
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C6/7, 3-4 weeks. L5/S1, 5 years.

Let that be your guide.
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Old 02-16-11, 09:30 AM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. Doc appointment today.. Hoping for some good news!
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Old 02-16-11, 10:29 AM
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I actually started cycling because of something called Pars Defect. I was diagnosed back in 86. Spinal fusion was the prescribed treatment. I elected to NOT have it done. Cycling was prescribed as one of the only sports I would be able to participate in. I am happy with the results.
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Old 02-16-11, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Munk69 View Post
Thanks for the replies everyone. Doc appointment today.. Hoping for some good news!
Good luck!! Let us know what he said...

When I decided it was time to get on the Trainer I got a step stool from Target and asked a friend to come around and help me, I didn't wanna get stuck on the Bike..the first time was for about 3 minutes just rotating the Pedals, I needed to know how I would feel the next Day...I couldn't even pump up the Tires at that stage...
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Old 02-16-11, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Excelsius View Post
WTF! How did you guys fall to F-up your spine like that? Did you make a mistake while riding? Any type of spinal injury is the worst thing that can happen, besides cracking your head.
Haha!! No, I didn't make a mistake, it wasn't my fault. I nose-dived into the Asphalt at 25mph. I didn't crack my head but got 3 Brain Bleeds and a serious Head injury...my Helmet deffinately saved my life.
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Old 02-16-11, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I actually started cycling because of something called Pars Defect. I was diagnosed back in 86. Spinal fusion was the prescribed treatment. I elected to NOT have it done. Cycling was prescribed as one of the only sports I would be able to participate in. I am happy with the results.
Good choice, glad you're OK!!
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Old 02-17-11, 11:28 PM
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Doctor appointment went great. Xrays are showing bone growth all along the vertebrae and my doctor cleared me for riding outside.. But he said to take it easy and listen to my back. I went riding that very afternoon and did 19 miles. I was pretty sore after that, but it sure felt great to be out on my bike again!
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Old 02-18-11, 12:39 AM
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^ good for you... you probably noticed the road was still there waiting for you so don't try ride it all at once...you don't want any setbacks!
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Old 07-10-11, 08:33 AM
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I know this thread is a few months old but I joined this forum to learn from experienced cyclist who have recovered from and continue to ride after back surgery. I used to be a big runner prior to my L4-S1 fusion but I hadn't been on a bike since high school. I was walking one week after my surgery for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. Two months later I was walking an hour or more or using an elliptical for a half hour. At six months I started to try running again. After several months of that I decided to find a new hobby. My first ride was 13 months after my surgery. It was a slow twenty mile group ride. At 18 months after my surgery I did my first century. I'm two and half years post surgery, continue to ride and have had no pain or problems with my back. My rehab was slowed down by shoulder surgery at the twelve month mark. Good luck.

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Old 07-10-11, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Munk69 View Post
Doctor appointment went great. Xrays are showing bone growth all along the vertebrae and my doctor cleared me for riding outside.. But he said to take it easy and listen to my back. I went riding that very afternoon and did 19 miles. I was pretty sore after that, but it sure felt great to be out on my bike again!
HMMMM, I Wonder if your doc thought 19 miles was taking it easy. I know most of us would but we have a skewed view of cycling. Glad your back on and good luck. I have already used pcad's story for a friend of me who has addiction problems secondary to back injuries as an example of hope and perseverance.
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Old 07-10-11, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by NYgreyrider View Post
I know this thread is a few months old but I joined this forum to learn from experienced cyclist who have recovered from and continue to ride after back surgery. I used to be a big runner prior to my L3-S1 fusion but I hadn't been on a bike since high school. I was walking one week after my surgery for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. Two months later I was walking an hour or more or using an elliptical for a half hour. At six months I started to try running again. After several months of that I decided to find a new hobby. My first ride was 13 months after my surgery. It was a slow twenty mile group ride. At 18 months after my surgery I did my first century. I'm two and half years post surgery, continue to ride and have had no pain or problems with my back.
nice! good work, keep it up! and welcome to the cycling forums/addiction.
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Old 07-10-11, 09:01 AM
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Thank you.
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Old 03-17-17, 12:29 PM
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Just saw this old thread but it is applicable to me. On Christmas eve I went out with two of my club members for a ride to a coffee shop in an adjoining town some 22 miles away. It was foggy and the roads were damp. As we were crossing some RR tracks my buddy in front lost control on the tracks and his rear wheel slid and he went down. I was right behind and hit him launching me over the handlebars. I landed on my helmet and the result was 4 broken vertebrae in my neck. I ended up having posterior spinal fusion of C-1 through C-4. C-2 was badly fractured and I was lucky not to have been killed as that is the hangman's fracture. I had a series of screws, plates and rods put in to hold everything together and was in a plastic collar for 7 weeks. My surgeon said I would regain most of my up down range of motion but my left - right range would only be about 50%. He said I could return to outdoor biking but needed to be careful due to the loss of motion. I purchased bar end mirrors and raised handle bars and changed out stem so as to be somewhat more upright. I got the green light to return outdoors after a total of 12 weeks from the accident and did 27 miles at a slow pace (14.5 mph) on my first ride back. I was riding my indoor trainer using the trainer road app for some 4 weeks prior to my outdoor ride. My neck gets stiff and hurts but is tolerable. I will be 65 in May and was big in team Ultra Racing before the accident. (was on a two man team that did 12 hour Ultra Races usually on 20-25 mile looped courses trading laps over the course of the ride. I am targeting returning to doing that by the end of June. Hopefully that is not pushing it too much. I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this type of injury and what their recovery time was. Any tips would also be appreciated.
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Old 03-21-17, 03:49 AM
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Long Time

I just took my first ride this past Saturday after a bi-level lumbar injury in 2010. I had a discectomy and two years of physical therapy. I'm still on pain meds. Guess something didn't go right. I didn't think I'd be able to ride again, so I got rid of all my good gear. The only thing I kept was my first road bike for sentimental reasons--a homemade, vintage Univega/Mavic/Campagnolo/Shimano Frankenstein's Monster, and is the only thing I've ever owned that I named. So "Frank" and I are starting over. First ride was only 8 miles, and since I'm 219 lbs now, I felt like I was gonna die. But it's a start. And I didn't have back pain for the next two days after the ride. So it looks like I might have something to look forward to.

This is also my first post here. Looking forward to relearning some things and catching up on what happneed in the last seven years.
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Old 03-21-17, 11:08 PM
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That's pretty awesome.
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Old 03-22-17, 06:24 PM
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Fusion is serious surgery and you run a risk of blowing the disk above the fusion as it will now bear a lot of the weight the ones below normally were handling. Learn all you can about it and what exercises you can do to keep your core as strong as possible so it doesn't happen to you.

I had discectomy 7 months ago. I hadn't ridden for the 13 weeks prior to the surgery going through all kinds on conservative treatments first. Took my first ride 5 weeks post surgery. Had surprisingly good power and was able to practically time trial at a good clip on the flats with no problem flattening the rollers; 8 miles total that day. Mostly did lots of walking after surgery (walked half a mile the day of surgery and 3 miles the next). At 6 week point, the sciatica came back and I couldn't have ridden out of my driveway. Next MRI showed inflammation and fluid so luckily no re-herniation.

It's amazing how complex and fragile the spinal system is and what can go wrong with it. Sounds like you are doing well now so that's good, and I feel like I am too. It's an absolute nightmare for some. Folks would do well to pay attention to how they lift and keep a strong core IMO. I'm 56 y/o and I did all kinds of wild stuff in my younger days but none of us can rewrite history
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Old 03-26-17, 07:26 PM
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I had a discectomy too, on two levels. But after two years of PT, I had only seen marginal improvement. The therapist seemed to think something healed incorrectly or something reconnected in a way it shouldn't have. I've been on medication ever since.
But, I was up to 225 lbs (from the svelte 180 I used to be), and my blood pressure was raging at 205/130 (prior to going on meds for it). I had to do something. Anything. I'd made one attempt about a year after the surgery which resulted in severely increased local pain and sciatica, so I gave it up. Got rid of all my bikes and kit.
It was out of desperation, motivated by constant reminders of my mortality (at age 37!) that I tried again. And this time was different. I'm seeing progress from one ride to the next: My first ride was 8 miles in an hour in traffic, and I thought I was going to die. Never made it out of the small chain ring, even on the flats--or even on the slightly downhill grades. It was pathetic. Second ride was an hour on my indoor trainer while I watched some stand-up comedy. On my third ride, I rode 9 miles 7 minutes faster than I did the 8 miles on my first ride and got into the big chain ring--and when I got back home, I felt like I could've ridden farther. And on my most recent ride, this afternoon, I shaved another 7 minutes off of my 9-mile route and went up a gear. That even includes stopping to make a seat adjustment.
It's quickly grown into something exciting that I look forward to, and my pain is at an all-time low. I could cry, man. I know the progress won't continue like this forever, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts. And if my train wreck of a body allows me to stick with it, I'm buying a Kestrel Talon next year. The machine I'm on right now is literally vintage.
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