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Old 11-04-2012, 02:23 PM
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Default Low Back Surgery. Anyone with same?

I am scheduled to have a three level fusion in my lower back on December 14th. L3-L4-L5-S1 are the levels involved. I am concerned about the recovery. Dr says minimum of two months for normal activities. But I haven't even told him about riding as I am afraid he will say to give it up which I don't plan on doing.

Anyone one out there with similar surgery? How long until you felt comfortable riding again and maybe being able to pick the bike up in case of a spill? Any riding concessions to be made with this type of fusion? Will I even be able to throw my leg over the bike?

I admit I'm pretty concerned about this and not real sure what to expect.

Thanks,
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colotrooper View Post
I am scheduled to have a three level fusion in my lower back on December 14th. L3-L4-L5-S1 are the levels involved. I am concerned about the recovery. Dr says minimum of two months for normal activities. But I haven't even told him about riding as I am afraid he will say to give it up which I don't plan on doing.

Anyone one out there with similar surgery? How long until you felt comfortable riding again and maybe being able to pick the bike up in case of a spill? Any riding concessions to be made with this type of fusion? Will I even be able to throw my leg over the bike?

I admit I'm pretty concerned about this and not real sure what to expect.

Thanks,
My lower back problems are exactly what led me first to upright riding position bikes like the 2008 Versys and now to the 2012 V-Strom.

I think that everyone's experience with this surgery will be different. I've had two surgeries on my lower back and spine at the L4-5 area. My recovery from the first go around took probably 4-5 months before I felt relatively normal but probably a year before I felt my best, which was maybe only 90 percent recovery. I was even able to start golfing again, although not without paying for it in pain for a few days after each round. Then things started going south again and I then had a much more major procedure done which included work on the spine and spinal cord. That one permanently ended my golf and hockey hobbies. I still have some ongoing issues but it's just the way it is so it's just just something you learn to live with. A few times a year I'm physically unable to get up by myself, let alone ride. However, most days I can still ride the V, in winter I can snowmobile and skate, swim, but no golf, tennis, hand ball, hard games of basketball, etc. I can still play catch with my kids and ride dirt bikes with them so the important things for me to do are just fine.

Others I know of bounce right back good as new and within a few months are back to near-normal activities. I hope you're in this category. I think your age and what the surgeons find when they get in there will be big factors.

I'd be really skeptical if someone is telling you that you'll be 100 percent in two months, but the basics should be a breeze to do by then. Just do exactly what the surgeons and post-op therapists tell you to do and you'll give yourself the best chance at a full recovery. I did not always follow that advice and I paid and am still paying a pretty steep price from it. Please be smarter than I was! Giving up riding for a few months while you're recovering is a small, small price to pay for a healthy remainder of your life.

And best of luck to you! Think positive thoughts.
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:21 PM
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Hey Racefan, Thanks for sharing your experience.

I'm not the greatest patient so I know taking things slow and not getting too anxious will be my challenge. I currently can't get out of bed without having to log roll and last night I thought I was going to drown while soaking my back in the bathtub because I couldn't raise myself up.

As for riding, I find the Strom fairly easy on my back and can last about three hours provided I take a 10 min break every 45 minutes or so. (hard to find riding partners stopping this often!). One of my goals for the surgery is be able to handle some week long rides again which I will use as my motivation to get through the re-hab.

Thanks again and best of luck with your continuing recovery.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:25 PM
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Instead of asking a bunch of strangers on teh intarwebs, talk to your surgeon about riding. If he tells you to give it up, see another surgeon that will respect you. Your medical care WILL suffer when you conceal things from your doctor.

Everyone's definition of "quality of life" is different, and yours includes riding motorcycles. You have the right to be treated like an adult. If your doctor scolds you for riding, she or he is not being a realistic doctor.

It may or may not change your treatment, but telling the doctor that your goal is to ride your motorcycle again ASAP will help make sure everyone's on the same page. For example, she or he may ask about the riding position or weight of your bike, or specify a certain time span before you can resume ordinary activities, and ask you to reach another set of goals before you ride.

You'll definitely want to rule out off road riding for quite a while, or at least set a higher goal for your ability to lift since the risk of drops is far greater.

I've recovered from a broken leg in motorcycle crashes twice and resumed riding, and both times my surgeons respected my choice to continue riding with no problems -- in fact, they used my goal to ride again ASAP as a motivator.

Both times, I started off with the lightest bike in my stable -- my KLR650, for example, is much easier to handle than the mighty Vee, so I was riding the KLR for about a month before I felt ready to start using the Vee. I'm also a highly experienced rider, so I was able to start riding again a good bit sooner than a less experienced rider might.

I always made it a point to ride to my followup appointments with my orthopedic surgeon.

You can ignore the "no motorcycles" signs in the parking garages. What they really mean is "no LOUD motorcycles".

I wish you the best with your recovery. Keep us posted!
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:49 PM
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Default Don't mean to pry

Had similar surgery a couple of decades ago to resolve a crushed vertebra. Ended up with 3 fused discs and some permanent reinforcing hardware. Ultimately, about as good as before the injury, except for the expected loss of spinal flexibility at the fused section. I'd say recovery hinges on a couple of things. First, do you smoke? My surgeon would have refused me as a patient had I done so, and all my health-care involved relatives said he had the best success record by far, so he probably knew. Second do you have a weight problem, specifically a considerable do-lap? Puts a ton of strain on the back. Third, are you willing to exercise regularly, for the rest of your (active) life? Walking seems to work miracles for back problems, both to help control weight, and to build core strength. When I get lazy and skip walking for a few days, the back starts aching. Your mileage may vary. My opinion is that fusion, assuming it is successful, puts extra strain on the discs just above and below the fusion, so you need to be careful about vertical shocks (like hitting bumps on bikes with poor suspension). I expect you'll be up and around in under a month. But fairly full recovery (depending on age, health, therapy, yada, yada) will be a year or more down the road. And if you have the afore-mentioned weight problem, controlling it will improve the level of recovery and reduce the chance of future problems. Basically, one more thing to think about, health-wise. But depending on the severity of the current condition maybe not much of an alternative.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:40 PM
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Default Year long recovery-ouch!

Hey JimDing. The year for full recovery seems like a very long time but I will gladly trade it for just being able to get out of bed like a normal person again.

Luckily, I've never been a smoker. My Doc also mentioned that smoking really made for long odds of a good outcome and that he would have to add extra hardware if I was a smoker.

I'm carrying only about 10lbs extra which I hope to lose once I can be more active. Won't be able to run, (didn't want to anyway), but walking will not be a problem.

I'm hoping to be back on the bike in three months or so, but will stick to the pavement for a good while. How long till you were back riding?

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I appreciate it.
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:24 PM
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I think you're right to be concerned. I would wonder what was wrong with you if you weren't concerned.
I'm an RN and I'll tell you I know nothing about back surgery but I do know how important relationships are in health care.
What you really need to do is be talking with your health care providers. You need to tell them what riding bikes means to you and have a serious conversation about what you can realistically expect. A lot of doctors hate motorcycles, don't know about yours. If he does it will be fairly obvious. At that point you need to politely say something like "I understand your concern but this is what I do and I need to know what I can expect physically." I do not suggest that you go 'doctor shopping' until you find one that tells you what you want to hear, you need to use your own good listening skills and evaluate what they are saying. Obviously if riding might do harm to you, then you need to hear that and evaluate the risk.
I will say I've been on the receiving end of a doctor telling me they were concerned about my riding or that I shouldn't do it. So far I've never gotten a concrete reason for that concern other than they don't like bikes so I choose to go on about my business. It is entirely possible in my situation that I will hear a good reason to stop and then I will have to weigh that out.
These are tough decisions, don't get your information from people on the internet. Your case is YOUR individual case. Only you and your providers really know the whole story.
Best of luck to you and I hope it works out well for you.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:05 AM
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Default Doctor knows best

When I was riding dirt bikes, i once had a pain management Doctor tell me to stop riding. He clearly didn't understand the risks as he had never even riden a bike. I am not a risk taker but it was clear that he had a preconceived notion about what riding a bike was all about so I wasn't going to listen. Unfortunately it was one of those visits where my wife had to drive me home so she obviously heard what the Dr had said.

So in an attempt to convince my wife that I truly knew more than the man with 12 yrs of post graduate work did, (after all, I am an engineer and we know everthing), I guess I again violated the internet trust issue and did some searches about riding with back problems. There were actually quite a few articles on the topic. The bottom line for the majority of riders is that ridng is actually good for your back as it strenghens your core muscles helping with stability issues.

I won't be reckless by any means and I do plan to ask my surgeon about it. i just wanted some input from anyone who had similar repairs so I would have something to gauge against.

Thanks again, I do appreciate your imput and feedback. I will let you know I progress following the surgery.
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Old 11-07-2012, 06:30 AM
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i've not had your surgery but i have had the low back problems--15 years or so ago. i refused surgery, i quit smoking, i got in shape. so i won't address any of those issues. what i will address is giving up the bike as my doctor took mine awy for 4 months. a convertible is not a bike but it is as close as you can get. corvette is a definite replacement. mustang gt's and rs camaros will work to. for the optimium motorcycle experience, a honda s2000 is great but very hard to find and quite expensive. and then there is the MIATA...convertibles are everywhere and many are cheap. good luck with you surgery and re-hab.

as far as the smoking, my former boss's husband needed a liver. the dr's said no transplant until he had been quit smoking for a year. everybody lied to the dr's...said he quit...he didn't live through the surgery, just like the dr said.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colotrooper View Post
When I was riding dirt bikes, i once had a pain management Doctor tell me to stop riding. He clearly didn't understand the risks as he had never even riden a bike. I am not a risk taker but it was clear that he had a preconceived notion about what riding a bike was all about so I wasn't going to listen. Unfortunately it was one of those visits where my wife had to drive me home so she obviously heard what the Dr had said.

So in an attempt to convince my wife that I truly knew more than the man with 12 yrs of post graduate work did, (after all, I am an engineer and we know everthing), I guess I again violated the internet trust issue and did some searches about riding with back problems. There were actually quite a few articles on the topic. The bottom line for the majority of riders is that ridng is actually good for your back as it strenghens your core muscles helping with stability issues.

I won't be reckless by any means and I do plan to ask my surgeon about it. i just wanted some input from anyone who had similar repairs so I would have something to gauge against.

Thanks again, I do appreciate your imput and feedback. I will let you know I progress following the surgery.
And please don't take it that I think that all information you get from the anecdotal experiences of others has no value. I think it means that you need to temper that with the knowledge of someone who knows the full story of your medical condition and that would be you and the doctor.
I understand the concern about the doctor you talked to who basically heard nothing but motorcycle and said stop riding. I wouldn't like that either.
I think the best you can do is broach the subject with this one, kind of get a feel for his attitude and go from there. If he's a reasonable person at all perhaps he can have some really good ideas for your rehabilitation. Besides at some point you will undoubtedly be doing physical therapy and a lot of those people are pretty reasonable.
Lacking anything else one might at some point consider consulting someone in sports medicine, particularly if you can find one who has some experience with bike racers.
You sound like a perfectly reasonable person, even if you are an engineer (my best friend is an engineer so I got your joke) so I'm sure you will know to ask the right questions.
Good luck to you, I hope it comes out well and that instead of limiting your life it becomes an improvement in quality.
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