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Skiing Again

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I probably shouldn't have, but I went skiing tonight. I had to take my daughter anyway so what the heck. It's been 10 weeks (Dec 10th) since I had surgery to fuse C5-C7, which was probably too soon to be skiing again, but what the heck. I took it pretty easy. Besides, I am way out of shape anyway.

Here are the XRays for those interested.
post #2 of 18
Next year will be here before you know it. Good luck with airport metal detectors.
post #3 of 18
You're damn lucky no one else took you out. It's not yourself that you worry about so much, it's those other people who don't pay attention or are out of control.

Does your doctor approve of this?
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your concern

Does the Dr. approve, not exactly. OTOH, it wasn't crowded and I knew where and where not to ski. Now, if the numbness and tingling would just go away in my left thumb and 1st finger.

Bonni, you take care.
post #5 of 18
Originally Posted by SrMike View Post
Now, if the numbness and tingling would just go away in my left thumb and 1st finger.

I was a little worried that (or something similar) would happen when I saw your films, but decided not to say anything until you mentioned this. Spinal fusions for chronic disk problems always make me uneasy, especially when I see films like this.

It's apparently an irritation of the nerve root between C5/C6, the top fusion.

The sensory pattern (dermatome) of your numbness follows a classic C6 nerve root path:

From the frontal view of your films, it's easy to see the malposition of the left side uncal process (on the right side of the film) of the vertebral body. In this picture, the uncal process is illustrated by #2.

You can see the uncal processes sweep up on the sides of the body in this bottom picture:

Mike, if you look at your frontal view, you'll see the uncus malposition just to the right of the round cage, about 2:00. The uncal joints should sit nicely in a saddle position. If it doesn't, it can cause problems and occlusion to the foramen where the nerve root passes, as you see here at the middle arrow on the body:

I see other things happening on the lateral view, on the posterior articulations and facets, but it's very difficult to show a patient or lay person because of the complexity and overlapping of the anatomy.

What concerns me is that the C5/C6 fusion itself prevents any kind of corrective or therapeutic procedures to alleviate the tissue damage that's occurring at that level.

Does your surgeon know about your numbness? (This looks like an ortho surgeon did it, not a neuro surgeon) It's not a good sign, especially given the evidence on these films.

Be aware that you now also have excessive strain on the C4/C5 level, just above the fusion -- it's apparent on your lateral film, particularly on the posterior bodies. A double fusion like yours, while it may patch up weakened and degerated disks, has a strong (almost definite) tendency to precipitate more future problems in the rest of the cervicals.

You may want to consider a consultation with a good chiropractor to keep the rest of your spine as healthy and balanced as possible, so you can minimize the further damage this fusion is causing. Unfortunately, I doubt a chiropractor will be able to help with the numbness in your hand, as the problem seems to now be integrated into that crude fusion.

I hope this helps, and gives you some information and questions to bring to your doctor.

Congrats on skiing, by the way. (being careful and mindful of your surroundings) Good for you!
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info.

This was a long running problem, (see thread http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=63625 )

I've had problems in this part of my neck for over 20 years. I had a really bad spell about 10-12 years ago, which we corrected with physically therapy, chiropractic, exercise and stretching. In late Oct (10/20 to be exact) I woke in the middle of the night in intense pain down my left arm and with a very stiff neck and shoulders. I immediately went to the Chiropractor that day and I saw him 4 times in a week span. Unfortunately, this time I did not respond well to this treatment. An MRI showed the disks were out of place and even the Chiropractor said time for surgery.

I did have a neurosurgeon do the surgery and I went to the best group of neurosurgeons in town. All three surgeons at this office have excellent reputations and ratings.

As far as pain, I was pretty much pain free by the time I had the surgery. Basically it was just numbness and tingling then and I couldn't move my neck, had to sit and stand funny, etc. Since the surgery I can move my head around without any pain or impingement. I did see that things weren't quite lining up in the x-rays and is a bit of a concern. Since I'm only 10 weeks out from surgery, it's probably too soon to go back to the chiropractor though. I have though about massages to get my left shoulder loosened up. I also have a little carpel tunnel I have to deal with too.

As far as skiing goes, I don't see that I will any problems at all next year. As far as my golf game goes, I am concerned. I got down to scratch last year and I don't know exactly how this is going to affect my game.

As far as the numbness goes, it's mostly left thumb. 1st finger was tingly before and it's just a little worse now. I also have some occasional tingling over the left shoulder and down the back of my left arm and now I have occasional tingling on the bottom of my left foot. That's new since the surgery. I was told 12-24 months for all the numbness and tingling to go away.

Just hanging in there for now.
post #7 of 18
Thanks, Mike.

Thumbs up for having a neurosurgeon do the surgery.

If you can move your head and neck without pain or impingement, you can
probably go to your chiropractor... depending on the adjusting methods he
or she uses. If it's a "heavy handed" technique, you're probably not quite
ready for it yet. If it's good, gentle, specific technique with minimal
twisting and popping, you could have ideally commenced that the first
week after surgery. I would have started low-force adjustments and soft
tissue release 3 days post-surgery.

With the symptoms you're describing, good chiropractic care will do A LOT
for you at this stage.

Get well soon!
post #8 of 18
May your days be pain free and easy.
post #9 of 18
Nice x-rays---definitely a conversation starter at cocktail parties. Hope you mend and shred the gnar quickly!!!!
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the support folks.

The other part in all this that kind of sucks was I was going to get in better shape and lose some more weight this winter. I ended up sitting on my butt a lot. (Not much you can do in a hard collar) and gaining 10 lbs. Since I'm starting to be more active now I hope I can reverse that trend and lose about 20-30 lbs by the end of summer.

I'll have to give the Chiropractor a call and see what he thinks. I'd definitely like to get a massage and get the knot in my left shoulder loosened up. I also want to get back into the yoga for golfers classes again too. No matter what, I'm going to get into what I was doing before. I'm going to have to work at it though.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

The Best Laid Plans... or What the Heck Happened

As far as getting back on skis and making some turns, things have not quite gone as well as I had hoped. I got in 2 ski days last year at the end of the season. I finally got a ski day in this season last Sunday. Aarrgghh!

I did get back into golf this last summer, and that went pretty well. I did not play as much as I have in the past, but some of that was due to the kids being busier with their activities and having a new job. I played OK, but I did end up with a pinched nerve in my lower back that sends shooting pains down my right leg. That's made walking a pain.

Then, about 3 weeks ago I missed a step and jammed my left knee. Instead of healing like it has before, this time it took 3+ weeks and it still hurts a lot.

So, I'm in terrible shape, I'm way over weight, I'm tired all the time and I haven't felt much like skiing.

I had volunteered to go skiing with the scout troop Sunday, so I was committed. I figured I'd get there and see what I could do.

First of all, I left the boots in the back of the truck. That was pretty dumb because, even though I let them warm up inside for a while, they were damn near impossible to get on. (Didn't these boots used to fit.) Anyway, I succeeded at that, got geared up and headed for the hill.

Well, it wasn't pretty, but I managed. No falls and I actually started to remember a fair amount. I mostly skied with the kids most of the day work on snow sports merit badge. I did get to ski some on my own later.

The good part was I had fun, kind of remembered what I was doing and I actually loosened up a little during the day. (Ibuprofen helped too) I'm a little stiff and sore today, but in a good way and I'm starting to plan my next ski outing to one of the local ski hills. Will have to get the skis tuned and waxed. I'd like to get in 3-4 more days on skis.

As far as the recovery from the cervical fusion. I'm not really worried about my neck any more. My left thumb, first finger and that 1/2 of my hand is still pretty tingly. I'm not holding out much hope for that ever healing completely.

One thing I started doing again to make sure I had something to keep me busy was to start flying RC Helis and planes. I've been flying 4-5oz aerobatic foamies and I have a fleet of RC helis.

Anyway, back on the slopes. This time I hope for good.
post #12 of 18
Skiing is like flying a plane: steady guidance, no abrupt movements, glide and soar. Good for you!

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks - sometimes I feel like all that stuff (golf, flying, racing, etc), like skiing, is connected.

You didn't watch the heli video did you?
post #14 of 18
No....got link? Since I've been injured, I find it difficult to read about skiing, and just got back into it again after almost 2 years off. I missed a lot.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yeah - I got caught up on your situation. All I can say is keep hangin' tough. My problems are minor by comparison.

Here are some links to some videos. I don't have anything recent of me, but here are some examples:




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vNIbQTABe4 (Old vid of me)

You take care. Good luck and best wishes with your life and skiing. Thanks for keeping us posted.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well - that was interesting.  Back on skis after a year.

WooHoo - I can still ski.  Even managed to make a few decent turns on some really firm snow (i.e. ice).  Would have been more fun if I didn't have a really bad cold.

I gotta get out and do this more.  My body needs the exercise and I need the fun.
post #17 of 18
Congrats Mike.  Glad to see you back.  Any gear changes this year?
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
No gear changes.  Still have the 170 SuperShapes.  Plus I have 177 XRCs and 166 SL skis too.

Got into my boots a little easier than I thought I would.  At the end of the night my shoes were too big after taking my boots off though.  I was on the SuperShapes; however having not tuned them in 2 years, they didn't quite have the grip I remember they had before.

I'm going to a Ski Patrol Alumni Reunion at Mad River Mountain on 3/6.  At least my ski clothes still sort of fit and I can still ski a little.
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