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Cycling after Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery

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Cycling after Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery

Old 06-27-22, 02:01 PM
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Cycling after Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery

I realize this is a pretty specific question that (hopefully) few of you have had to deal with. Six weeks ago I had two disks in my neck replaced with artificial disks. My arm had started to ache, then go numb, which is what alerted me to the problem and caused the surgery. I'm 52, been racing for twelve years, biking (mostly road) for 15. Range of motion and functionality in my arm and neck are supposed to return to normal -- or, preferably, better than normal -- eventually. I tried to train up before the surgery so that I was in reasonable shape going in. I then took a week off post-operation before gradually introducing workouts on the indoor Wahoo trainer. I'm now 6-weeks post-op and looking to start riding outside again (no racing for a year, surgeon said).

According to my subjective feel and my objective stats, I've sort of hit a wall and am regressing a bit in terms of bike performance after making good progress for the first several post-op weeks. The surgery-specific soreness in my neck and throat are pretty well gone, but my body just isn't responding well (heavy legs, HR not going down as quickly during rest intervals, etc.). I'm not alarmed; it's still early days and I realize I'm still recovering. But I'd appreciate hearing from any of you who've had this surgery or had a patient/client who went through it. My surgeon doesn't' bike, so I'm trying to get a feel from a real world standpoint on how recovery goes for cyclists, lessons learned, things you would or wouldn't do again.

Thanks.
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Old 03-08-23, 04:31 PM
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Hey! Id love to hear how youre doing now. Im six days out from a cervical disc replacement myself. My surgeon wont even let me back on my trainer for 6 weeks Im pain free already and walking 4 miles a day just trying to minimize my fitness decline. I have a big ride in October I had just started planning for when my neck went out. How long did it take you to get back to your prior fitness level? I turned 37 the day after my surgery so hopefully that will be to my benefit as well. Hope youre doing well!
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Old 03-09-23, 08:11 AM
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I counsel patience.

I had a cervical fusion and two artificial discs implanted in 2008. It was done in a Army hospital and I was cleared for a 100 lb ruck, which would never have considered trying to carry, after maybe 8 weeks. During the post-op period, I walked miles and miles and spent a lot of time in the gym doing the prescribed work and fixing some incidentally-uncovered strength deficits, so the fitness loss didn't seem so terrible.

The limiting factor, at least in my case, was re-ossification around the implanted hardware, particularly the fusion, as determined by X-ray findings. Once that was good, there were no further concerns. Surgeons are cautious by training, but I would definitely talk to your rehab providers before pushing the envelope. Setbacks can be long and serious.
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Old 03-13-23, 07:36 PM
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Thanks! Patience has never been my strong suit but youre absolutely right, better to take a few weeks up front than months later due to a set back. I appreciate your response! Im

Originally Posted by MoAlpha
I counsel patience.

I had a cervical fusion and two artificial discs implanted in 2008. It was done in a Army hospital and I was cleared for a 100 lb ruck, which would never have considered trying to carry, after maybe 8 weeks. During the post-op period, I walked miles and miles and spent a lot of time in the gym doing the prescribed work and fixing some incidentally-uncovered strength deficits, so the fitness loss didn't seem so terrible.

The limiting factor, at least in my case, was re-ossification around the implanted hardware, particularly the fusion, as determined by X-ray findings. Once that was good, there were no further concerns. Surgeons are cautious by training, but I would definitely talk to your rehab providers before pushing the envelope. Setbacks can be long and serious.
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Old 03-14-23, 06:07 AM
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I need 4 levels done (C3-7) and have spoken to many, many neurosurgeons in the USA and Europe. I used to be active on forums related to cervical spine surgeries and it is far, far better to be cautious based upon those participants. If Doc says to walk, walk. If Doc says, do not ride your bike or play golf, don't

Based on that perspective, I would follow their advice exactly.
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Old 05-19-23, 02:13 PM
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I had forgotten I posted this. Appreciate the replies. So, I'm one year past surgery and everything has gone mostly well. My neck still does get fatigued more often than it used to, but this is really only an issue on rides of over 3-hours (or after long work days). One odd thing, unrelated to cycling, is that many of my dress shirts can't be fully buttoned when I wear ties since my neck has grown. This seems to be due to my traps and neck muscles taking on more load when I lift weights at the gym. Unfortunately, while the surgery immediately ended the pain and tingling down my arm from the nerve compression, it turns out that I waited too long to have the surgery to avoid permanent nerve damage. So, the nerve in my right arm struggles to fire properly and the muscles associated with it (delts, the area around the scapula, right pec) don't work as well as a result, causing my upper body to shift responsibility for certain lifts (like shoulder presses) to other muscles like traps.

But otherwise, I was able to return to normal cycling training shortly after I wrote the OP. Squats and deadlifts are off the menu just to be safe, replaced by machine leg presses, but I don't see that as a huge problem. Of course, I had disc replacement, not disc fusion which I understand is a whole other animal when it comes to recovery and long-term effects.
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