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skiing with a fractured vertebrate

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have had a great ski season,, but was experiencing some soreness and stiffness in my lower back. I decided to see a chiropractor thinking he could help me with the stiffness. The day after my visit i could barely move my right leg and my my physician sent me for an M.R.I. The doc got the results and it showed that I had two bulged discs and the worst part was a fractured vertebrate that had slipped and was pinching a nerve causing pain, numbness and weakness in my right leg. Moral of the story is stay away from Chiro's! They made things much worse in my case. I have been doing extensive pt.and it has helped. I am wondering if i will ever be able to ski again at this point, or if i should even attempt to. Has anyone had this injury and what advice would you give in regards to exercise and skiing.
post #2 of 17

Could we have more information: what is the exact nature of the fracture and the bulged discs--the actual language used in the radiology report? What treatment besides PT have you received--bracing? What specialists have you seen?

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
It is a pars fracture of the L5. I am under the care of a neurosurgeon and he hasn't prescribed any bracing, but i am doing P.T. three times a week and it has helped a lot. My therapist told me that a fracture of the vertebrate is hard to heal. I am concerned that i will never be able to ski again or hike, but I cant get any straight answers as to what i can and cannot do activities wise. Maybe i should hang the skis on the wall as decorations.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
The bulged discs are L4 and L5. The fracture is atL5
post #5 of 17

I have some compressed discs that I've been self managing since the early 1980s.  I've injured them worse since then.  High impact compression activities can aggravate them but not always.  I had no trouble skiing, even bump skiing and small to medium table top jumps in the park.  I have been brought to my knees twice in the past year, once after doing a trampoline park for 45 minutes then again while moving heavy furniture.  Usually takes about 4-6 weeks to heal well enough for full load work and play.  The BEST thing for these types of injury is hanging to stretch the compressions back out either by your arms from a pull up bar or lat pull device or gravity/inversion boots hanging like a bat.  No telling what will bring on the back burn and/or pinched nerve pain on any activity, but it seems to be things that are fluke movements.  Happens more as you get older too.  I'm just over fifty and wreck it several times a year now.  Used to only happen about every two or three years when I was younger and stronger.

 

Good luck. You can and should continue what you enjoy after following the doctor's healing and rehab instructions.. at least 8 weeks before anything if a disk is really cracked or broken.  It sucks but probably not a ski career ending thing. 

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am amazed at how much P.T. helps. Im learning that the best thing i can do is keep all the muscles tight and strong, so that everything stays in place. I too hit age 50 and have realized you have to be aware of your limitations and listen to what your body tells you. Everything in moderation, including skiing.
Good luck to you also. Happy skiing trails!
post #7 of 17

I wouldn't pan chiro's completely, nor acupuncture, but I do believe one should visit their trusted family physician. I love that years ago, 30ish when in high school in physics class a girl behind me defended her father who was a chiro against the guy in front of me whose dad was a physician ... he said his dad said they were all quacks ... Voodoo doctors!   A few years later Chiro's settled a suit where they won to put practices into hospitals.

 

Anyhow, years later I noted that most the respected Chiro schools dropped saying they can cure all types of issues the best Chiro's recognized that they simply understood muscular bone structure and helped may an person.

 

I've got two buds who'd swear that Acupuncture fixed issues not found or fixed by standard physicians .. point being, I think there is merit on certain sciences if however the "doctor" understands the limits of the claims.

 

IMHO

 

pete

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Pete I'm sure you are right about chiropractors and acupuncture and that many people have benefited form their care. Its my opinion that one should thoroughly look into their reputation before a visit. I think all professions have those who are great at what they do and some that stink. I am impressed with some of the Physical Therapist I have met and with there understanding of how to relieve pain and strengthen injured areas with stretching and exercises.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by alli View Post

Pete I'm sure you are right about chiropractors and acupuncture and that many people have benefited form their care. Its my opinion that one should thoroughly look into their reputation before a visit. I think all professions have those who are great at what they do and some that stink. I am impressed with some of the Physical Therapist I have met and with there understanding of how to relieve pain and strengthen injured areas with stretching and exercises.


agreed!

 

Simply saying as with most things life, we're stuck with in general .. protecting ourselves.  ;

 

however you're correct in what I believe .. that PT's are at my top of the list!

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well said Pete ...i couldn't agree more! We must be aware and proactive, especially with things that concern our health.
post #11 of 17

Since you're under the care of a neurosurgeon he or she is obviously the one to be asking about what you can do and when. You say you can't get straight answers--if what you mean is that your doctor is telling you he doesn't know, we'll have to see how things go one step at a time, maybe you can/maybe you can't then that's actually a straight answer and may be the best he can give you right now. If he won't take the time to answer your questions or gives you a dogmatic answer, like you can't ski any more without any further explanation than you need to be insistent on getting an answer or ask your primary care doc to send you to someone who will. 

 

I have a somewhat similar problem--pinched nerves from protruding discs and facet and ligament hypertrophy (spinal stenosis) but no fracture. Problem started last July--I've been able to ski although my endurance is less and I have to avoid impacts, like steep-faced hard bumps. Hiking up hill has been hard, cycling and kayaking--which put my back into a better position have been better. One thing that helps with skiing is posterior pelvic rotation which means that the top of the pelvis is tilted back. What it actually feels like is a pelvic thrust, tightening the abs and clenching the butt cheeks. This is actually a good position for skiing mechanics as well.

 

You've got a long time before next ski season to find out if you'll be able to ski.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

Since you're under the care of a neurosurgeon he or she is obviously the one to be asking about what you can do and when. You say you can't get straight answers--if what you mean is that your doctor is telling you he doesn't know, we'll have to see how things go one step at a time, maybe you can/maybe you can't then that's actually a straight answer and may be the best he can give you right now. If he won't take the time to answer your questions or gives you a dogmatic answer, like you can't ski any more without any further explanation than you need to be insistent on getting an answer or ask your primary care doc to send you to someone who will. 

 

 

Thumbs Up on the primary care physician! they really can be an asset to either elicit an answer or present the question to get an answer in case the surgeon hasn't the desired bedside manner.  They often too have a better understanding of your history which may help.

post #13 of 17

Hi Alli!

 

Don't despair yet! A few years ago (2011 and 2012) I had some back problems which I briefly wrote about in a post titled "herniated disc, dropped foot, spondylolisthesis!" - sorry, not sure how to link it here. The post is a bit babbling, but long-story-short, I had the above diagnoses and was freaked out as I thought I might never be able to walk again without an AFO (lower leg/foot brace) and would really be limited in my activities. Since then, other than occasional bad bouts of back pain (the last was probably February 2014 and some good PT sessions got me out of that), I have gone on and done about everything I want to do. I avoid much snow shoveling as I was told not to, and same with things such as dead-lifting and overhead press weights, but other than that have returned to skiing (I'm pretty much a Cruisin-the-Blues person anyway) and biking and hiking and gardening - pretty much enough to keep me happy.

 

When I first had the back problems appear, I am very happy that I went to my favorite sports doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, because he babied me through and kept me away from the surgeons who wanted to fuse my back (quite a few of them), and the only times I was in the OR was for steroid injections to the back. It is possible that as I age (I am now 57), my spine will continue to have more problems, because on top of everything else I have osteoporosis (for which I take medicine, as did my mother). So my best bet for retaining as much mobility and body "integrity" as I age is to stay active and take good care of myself.

 

I am happy that I had not gone to a chiropractor when I first had the problems, because once I saw how much over-mobility I have in my spine (xrays and MRI) and how the nerve was so at-risk of being compressed by my out-of-whack vertebrae (which is why I ended up with the foot drop, due to the natural compression by those whacky vertebrae), I can only imagine what continued forceful compression might have done to that nerve. As it is, I now have absolutely no foot drop or symptoms of it (no brace needed!), and the only residual I have is a few toes which have slightly altered sensation (not even really numb), and occasionally I get weird random hamstring cramps (most likely due to spinal stenosis and the rest of my freaky back), which is quickly altered by my changing my back position and going into a toe-touch position - then the cramp is gone. I take it with a sense of humor - once in a rainy Burger King parking lot rather than hop out of my car for the toe-touch, I chose to strategically fit my 5'3' body into a standing-inside-the-car butt-against-the-window position for the milisecond needed to stop the cramp!

 

Anyway, yes, I am a big PT addict - usually end up seeing one every year or so for some body part or another. And they really know their stuff. But again, we are all so individual and heal so differently. If you had told me a few years ago that I would have such few back symptoms and be doing so much, I would not have believed it (though I would have wished strongly for it).

 

So keep the faith, and keep up your PT, and if you can, find a good sports doctor (NOT a sports surgeon, but a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation or PM&R doctor, also known as physiatrist).

 

By the way, some doctors are MDs (Medical Doctors) and some are DOs (Doctor of Osteopathy). Both take the same boards for licensure, but the DOs are also trained in manipulation. So they CAN do some of the same manipulations of chiropractors, but I would much more trust a DO than a chiropractor. Sorry, it's just my personal opinion.

 

Good luck and hang in there!

Kitty

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks Kitty for your response and encouraging email. Sounds as if we have a similar problem. I had my last PT session last week and am doing great with the exception of some occasional tingling in my toes. My PT and doctor have given me the go ahead to try whatever i want, including skiing, but to listen to my body and get off my feet if necessary. Like you said you have to take extra care as the years advance. I think i should be tested for osteoporosis so it can be addressed early on. Thanks for bringing that up and i hope all goes well for you and you are able to live an active lifestyle

Thanks
Alli
post #15 of 17
My guess you'll likely be able to ski again on the advise of your Dr.'s. The long term issue will be reoccurring scare tissue that will cause pain and restricted movement from time to time. A good chiropractor/physo should be able to break it (scare tissue) free when required and give freedom of movement and remove the pain.

How do I know this? As the saying goes.....Been there, done that, hope not to do it again.

Hope it heals well and best wishes on a good recovery.
post #16 of 17

Re osteopaths--at the medical center where I worked (large group HMO) there were a number of DO's doing primary care medicine. I don't believe any of them did any manipulation. Their practice was basically identical to general internist MD's and family doctors. So if you seek out a DO because they can do manipulation in addition to allopathic medicine be sure the particular one you chose does it. (I am neither endorsing nor criticizing spinal manipulation by a DO or chiropracter, just offering that small bit of information. I am endorsing DO's in general as physicians as competent and knowledgeable as MD's with the same degree of training)

post #17 of 17

Looking back at my post I didn't stress enough your Doctors knowledge should be taken ahead of phsyo/chiro as you don't want to do further injury in treatment.  The loosening of scare tissue is great, but does have serious risks that you should be aware of and is not always the solution for all.

 

Thanks for the indirect reminder oldgoat.

 

Cheers

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