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Discussion Starter #1
have to have L-5:S-1 fused and riding is my great joy in life. Doc says should be good in 6mos but I would like to hear from any real world experiences.
Dave
 

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I had a two level fusion with six screws two rods and disc cages at L4,5 S1 ten years ago. I didn't ride for about 4 months. Don't have the endurance that I use to. Before the surgery didn't look back at a 700 mile days on my Concours, only 450-500 miles a day now. Sold the Concours and the KLR 4 years ago and got my 08 Wee. The Wee has a more upright riding position and lighter which is better for me. I'll be 59 in less than a month and still loving the ride. Hope everything goes well for you and remember keep your weight down and your core strength up.:thumbup:
 

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Spinal Fusion

I also had spinal fusion but mine was cervical. Two levels, cadaver disk installed, titanium plate and screws put in. It took about 9 months to recover and at 56 years young, I am back to surfing, offshore saltwater big game fishing, and just bought a new 2013 V Strom 650 Adventure 2 months ago. I have not done any off road riding as of yet which I'm sure will hurt my neck a bit, but it's not in my nature to give up on something because of a little pain. I've been on a couple 200 mile rides so far and funny thing...my ass hurts pretty good after a long ride so it takes my mind off of my neck!

I'm sure you'll be fine and the enjoyment will far outway the temporary discomfort. Just take it slow and ride with a smile!

Craig.
 

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I don't have personal experience with it, however I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy so I tend to see MANY people after these surgeries. I don't recall ever having a bike rider who was unable to return to riding. Just be sure that afterwards you get into Physical Therapy to build back up your core/neck strength to support and take pressure off that are while riding.
 

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Sounds like your fusion is low enough to not effect your flexibility to badly. Core training and weight control, as suggested, will work for endurance. Start slowly and listen when your body tells you to hold back. The Vstrom should be very suitable for you because of the riding position. I would continue to ride once you are medically cleared. Don't give up the things you love. Good luck in you're recovery.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
GREAT posts and info, thanks very very much for the feedback, gentlemen!!!!

and thanks MOD for moving my post to the correct forum!

Dave
 

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It was my neck, not my lower back, but I had C5, 6, and 7 fused at age 58. February 2014 will be a full two years since the surgery.

Motorcycling is my life-long passion. I don't mind admitting I was VERY apprehensive and fearful of 'becoming a practical invalid' having seen a few instances and heard tell of many more horror-story results of spinal surgery.

My particular situation was all the more fretful because I didn't actually have any symptoms to speak of. I was being checked for a merely bothersome shoulder ache that I was absolutely certain was the return of soreness from a highside spill off my trials bike about 10 years earlier, which had resulted in a slightly...um...elevated outboard joint of my collar bone. On examination, the good doc told me the pain was from my neck, not my shoulder. I thought he was nuts.

Until, that is, a few weeks later when we both viewed the MRI for the first time on the same day. My spinal cord was being severely choked by arthritis. I was at serious risk of paralysis were I to have a moderate impact to my neck. The doc was astounded that I didn't have any real symptoms like trouble walking, etc. That was just before Christmas, and the surgery was scheduled for February. I told the doc I was planning a scuba trip with my son over New Year's weekend. He strongly advised me against it. (I went anyway.)

I've had typical lower back pain off and on for quite a few years, but have never really been prevented from being as active as I wanted. Suddenly, I was now really afraid motorcycling was all over for me. I thought I would not be able to look over my shoulder when changing lanes. I figured dirt riding was completely out of the question.

But I started running into more and more people who had had similar procedures. Some of them were people I knew personally, but never knew they'd had neck fusions. A few others were long-time motorcyclists like me.

Bottom line is, everything went just as my EXCELLENT surgeon said it would. Stayed home from work for a couple weeks feeling "delicate" but not in any real pain after the first two or three days. Could not drive (let alone ride) for four months simply because the doc said it takes that long for bone to become solidly healed. I did everything I was told; wore the neck collars for the duration whenever riding in the car, etc. Didn't take any chances.

Mobility of my neck improved gradually during the healing time; I didn't rush it. At the four months mark, the doc pronouced me ready to drive (and yes, to ride if I chose to, which of course I did). He grinned and said good-naturedly, "If you break anything, it won't be the part I fixed."

But here's the real thing: I'm 5'7 (plus the centimeter or so that the doc said I might gain from the high-performance neck parts--I'll claim every millimeter I can get). Over a few years leading up to the surgery I had put on that middle-age bulge and had (I'm ashamed to say) let myself get up to just over 200 lbs.

So with the surgery coming up, I figured there'd be at least a few days that I'd be eating lightly, so sort of planned to try to take advantage of that to cut back some. My better half, Nancy, took advantage of that and presented me with a recumbant exercise bike (one of the super quiet magnetic resistance kind). I started out pedaling about 15 minutes a day on a low setting, thinking my heart was gonna burst. Otherwise just stopped pigging out and just roughly counted calories, started weighing myself every day, and gradually notched up the level and duration whenever I felt ready.

I lost a steady average of around 7 pounds a month. By June I was back on my DL1000. In August I bought a new DR650. By October I was pedaling an hour a day and had reached my 150 lb goal. All my tight 38" waist pants were gone and replaced with comfortably fitting 32s". It's now a year after that, I still weigh 150 and I pedal about 80 minutes (800 calories) a day after work. (Look forward to it; kind of addicted to it.)

I feel 20 years younger. More endurance, more flexibility, more relaxed, better disposition--just better all 'round.

As for the neck, it did continue to improve throughout the rest of the year after I was released from restrictions by the doc at the four months mark. It continued to feel more and more "sturdy" even as it gained more mobility. So even though the doctors say the bone heals in about 4 months, I figure everything else associated kinda gets back in play after that. But I really don't even give it any thought now, and don't feel at all limited by having had the operation.

I really do pray your procedure goes every bit as well. For me the whole thing in total was a very surprising life change--for much the better. No exaggeration.

JET
 

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I'm a little late to this thread, but.....

I'm a little late in responding to this thread but, I've been in our shoes, worrying exactly the same. 11 months ago, I could only ride 30-40 minutes at a stretch and was staring at a two level fusion. I didn't know what to expect with recovery and couldn't find anyone with a similar issue to help ease my concerns. On Dec 18, 2012 I had a L4-L5-S1 two level fusion. My doc had said since I was not a smoker, that I could return to riding as early as three months, which is what I did. Started slowly at only 30 minutes or so and built it up to today with my longest one day ride 580+ miles in August and honestly, I could have kept riding.

Two things though. All the talk about core strength is true but also get a good back brace. I have a Back-a-line brand brace and it is great. Get it and use it.

Second thing is you will have significant pain following surgery, but use the pain meds as sparingly as you can. You can become dependent very quickly. Move on to Advil or similar.

Don't worry, the riding will be there once you heal. :hurray::yesnod:

P.s. one last thing, if you are a smoker, quit now. Bone density is really lessened and you will need extra hardware as a result with much longer time to heal.

Good luck my friend.:thumbup:
 

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My wife had fusions of two joints in her lower back about 15 years ago. She rigorously followed the physical therapy and made a great recovery. I watched her tackle knee surgery for an ACL replacement the same way this February, with very aggressive pre and post operative physical therapy. Muscles in the area lose tone as soon as any are cut and must be rebuilt. But now she rides her motorcycle with no issues and even does 100 mile days on her bicycle. Long car or plane rides sometime cause aches, depending on the seats, but active stuff seems fine.

The back surgery changed her life though, prompting her to become a Chiropractor. Looking back with the benefit of what she's learned in school and practice, she reminds friends and patients to follow the surgeon's and PT's instructions to the letter. Apparently many patients blow it off after a while and then require more surgeries. The other point she makes is that after your full recovery, you must be diligent about fitness. She stretches (those muscles scar and aren't as forgiving), does core resistance work, and gets Chiropractic adjustments from a peer.

So expect a great outcome, follow all directions, and then stay fit. As you work at your PT, think of how good you'll soon feel and how strong you'll ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
will do!
fyi for all, I'm 57, non smoker, fit, 6', 175 but slimming down to 160 which is skinny but i have a distance runner build /skeleton so it's actually right for me. Done workouts since I was 18, core and stretching, and eat right. My reason for surgery is 50%pain, 50% so i can hike/run/swim, workout vigorously again one day. But i'll be taking it easy and following PT advice to the letter as you say. Have a great surgeon but also i have a great chiro who is also holistic with acupressure/puncture etc and all around great guy so that may help.

it sounds like if i'm diligent and do what i'm told i'll be back at it after 6mos., maybe riding a bit after 3. Man i hope so.

These posts have eased my mind a lot.
 

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We put motorcycle/bicycle plans on hold when faced with Cathy's ACL surgery in February. Turns out she resumed cycling in 9 weeks, just as it warmed up, and we were riding centuries 6 months after surgery. It had no impact on our year. Depending on where you live, you might not miss much at all with December surgery.
 

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yup, that is exactly why i timed it dec. Hoping to back into light stuff in 3 months and full on mtn biking and longer mcycle riders by mid June. Might work , might not, but thats the plan. Very encouraging to hear your stories.
 

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Best of luck with your surgery. I may be facing similar in the near future.

5 years ago I ruptured (herniated... what ever the proper term is when you blow the stuffing out as my Doc said I did!) a disc at L5/S1. PT did me fine for just short of 2 years, but I still had pain. I did get back in shape, dropped weight etc. and suffered through it, and was back in top form for racing (enduro). A torn ACL from a crash then set me back big time.

Now 5 years after the initial back injury (which by the way happened on a mellow bicycle ride..nothing gnarly happened at all - not even a crash...nothing...but that ride is the moment that blew it) I am generally back where the pain keeps me from doing much. I have some good days, but more bad. Sometimes, i find it hard to walk or stand for even a few minutes. Unfortunately, my weight has ballooned back up (I was 180 the day I tore the ACL, now at 215), as I simply cant find the way to stay working out and stay motivated when it hurts!

I recently went through a series of 3 cortizone injections. First one was like a miracle...basically pain free for over a month. Second, likewise for maybe 2 weeks ...then the pain started up again. Third, mild relief, but nothing noteworthy, then back to full tilt hurting. Doc says its time for the next step.

I had a MRI on Friday - based on my rather uneducated, uninformed comparison of the disc now vs when first injured, if anything, it appears more flattened out to me! That sucker is at most 1/2 the apparent thickness of the ones above it. (I am shorter now!)

Soon I expect to hear from the Doc - dunno if they will try discectomy or a fusion. To the original poster - in your case what led to a fusion vs first trying a discectomy?

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Soon I expect to hear from the Doc - dunno if they will try discectomy or a fusion. To the original poster - in your case what led to a fusion vs first trying a discectomy?

Mike
The first thing i wanted was a disc replacement. A ProDisc,its called. I went to Payton Mannings surgeon in Indianapolis. He said neck is great success for disc replacement, but lumbar blows out and he would not touch it except to to discectomy and fusion (both at once). He wanted go anterior, thru my gut, move all those nerves that control my dick function, do the work and move 'em back. I decided I didnt want my dick nerves touched, and got a second opinion in Louisville, closer to home. They wanted to do a 4inch incision going posterior thru my lower back. Much better. Still directed to get disc cut out and fusion/bone/screws in to stabilize everything. Said it would stabilize vertebrae so I could go crazy again with my active lifestyle after i heal up 6-9months. 3 months for fusion to work but no going crazy for 6-9months. I actually went to a neurologist and he picked out his surgeon buddy to do the work while he assists. I like that idea a lot.

I had 3 epiderals to get me thru the summer havin' fun and now pain is coming back and so I scheduled the surgery for the cold months. Hope we are both as successful and these other guys have been. It's been great to hear their uplifting stories.
 

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I had L4-L5-S1 fusion done April, 2013. Cut in from the back, six screws and two plastic rods. Everything still works but the stiff back at the lower level is very noticeable, (missionary position is the worst :furious:)

I was able to do our annual dual sport ride over labor day in Colorado with 4 back to back 200+ mile days over dirt and paved passes. I didn't have any problems with the ride, just sore at the end of the day.

I still have leg pain and numbness every night, it doesn't matter if I just sat at work all day or rode my bikes. Had to do it all over, I would pass on the surgery. I put this off for too many years and probably have permanent nerve damage. Doc follow ups with new MRI doesnt show any nerve impingement, he says I will get what I get in 12 to 18 months. He also said no brace after three months, it would allow your muscles to weaken with its continued use.

Good luck on your surgery, stabilize your fuel and be ready for early spring ride.
 

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Best of luck with your surgery. I may be facing similar in the near future.

5 years ago I ruptured (herniated... what ever the proper term is when you blow the stuffing out as my Doc said I did!) a disc at L5/S1. PT did me fine for just short of 2 years, but I still had pain. I did get back in shape, dropped weight etc. and suffered through it, and was back in top form for racing (enduro). A torn ACL from a crash then set me back big time.

Now 5 years after the initial back injury (which by the way happened on a mellow bicycle ride..nothing gnarly happened at all - not even a crash...nothing...but that ride is the moment that blew it) I am generally back where the pain keeps me from doing much. I have some good days, but more bad. Sometimes, i find it hard to walk or stand for even a few minutes. Unfortunately, my weight has ballooned back up (I was 180 the day I tore the ACL, now at 215), as I simply cant find the way to stay working out and stay motivated when it hurts!

I recently went through a series of 3 cortizone injections. First one was like a miracle...basically pain free for over a month. Second, likewise for maybe 2 weeks ...then the pain started up again. Third, mild relief, but nothing noteworthy, then back to full tilt hurting. Doc says its time for the next step.

I had a MRI on Friday - based on my rather uneducated, uninformed comparison of the disc now vs when first injured, if anything, it appears more flattened out to me! That sucker is at most 1/2 the apparent thickness of the ones above it. (I am shorter now!)

Soon I expect to hear from the Doc - dunno if they will try discectomy or a fusion. To the original poster - in your case what led to a fusion vs first trying a discectomy?

Mike
I'm headin' towards the same room with a view.....
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I had L4-L5-S1 fusion done April, 2013. Cut in from the back, six screws and two plastic rods. Everything still works but the stiff back at the lower level is very noticeable, (missionary position is the worst :furious:)

I was able to do our annual dual sport ride over labor day in Colorado with 4 back to back 200+ mile days over dirt and paved passes. I didn't have any problems with the ride, just sore at the end of the day.

I still have leg pain and numbness every night, it doesn't matter if I just sat at work all day or rode my bikes. Had to do it all over, I would pass on the surgery. I put this off for too many years and probably have permanent nerve damage. Doc follow ups with new MRI doesnt show any nerve impingement, he says I will get what I get in 12 to 18 months. He also said no brace after three months, it would allow your muscles to weaken with its continued use.

Good luck on your surgery, stabilize your fuel and be ready for early spring ride.
i have only pain, no numb or loss of foot strength. Am trying to avoid nerve damage by getting this done now. Thats funny, or not funny, abt the missionary as sex is a big part of the call but i dont see a forum for that so its difficult to get info. Thats the main reason i got a second opinion tho', dont want nobody touchin' those nerves (was the neurosurgeon's advice). Thanks for the post!
 
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