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Bears with bad backs/necks

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Any Bears out there with bad backs?  Have just received the news that the pain in my neck and arm is caused by a herniated cervical disk.  My doc, rather obviously wants me to stop skiing and is recommending surgery to shave off the part of the disk that is pressing on the nerve.  Anyone else gone through this?  Any advise?

post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tag View Post

 

Any Bears out there with bad backs?  Have just received the news that the pain in my neck and arm is caused by a herniated cervical disk.  My doc, rather obviously wants me to stop skiing and is recommending surgery to shave off the part of the disk that is pressing on the nerve.  Anyone else gone through this?  Any advise?


 

I broke L3, 23 years ago (last week).  L2- 3 & 4 are fused.  I see a Chiro every 3 - 5 weeks for all sorts of spinal related problems (full spine) as a result. 

 

I would hit a Chiro or get some Physical Therapy from someone who specializes with your type of injury before even considering surgery.

 

post #3 of 27

I have been dealing with it all season except lower back. This book helped me quit a bit. You might want to get this one though.

 

A combination of chiropractic, Mckenzie exercises, massage therapy, a homeopathic cream called Topricin, St. John's Wort oil,  ice packs, posture awareness, light exercise when possible, common sense, keeping my ego in check and patience have been helping me.

 

Make surgery your last resort.

 

post #4 of 27

I have some compression between the vertebrae in my neck, which periodically causes pretty severe pain in the neck and down the arm ... fortunately, the worst episodes have been during the summer.

 

Last go 'round, my doctor said nothing about stopping skiing, but prescribed a steroid and sent me to physical therapy. The steroid worked like a wonder drug (though it might have disqualified me from winning the AL batting crown that I otherwise had my eye on). So far as I understand, it doesn't do anything about the underlying problem, but it breaks the cycle of irritation and swelling of the nerve. Worked in my situation, and the therapy helps stave off a recurrence, but your underlying disc problem may well be much more severe than mine.

 

My observations:

- From what I can tell, doctors tend to treat these things pretty conservatively, as a rule. Partly, I think, because the pain element is so subjective.

- Just from looking at the Internet, there have been some advances in neck surgery in recent years. They're using something arthroscopic nowadays (at least some surgeons are, on some patients), rather than coming in from the front, which scares the heck out of me, and maybe even should.

- Your doctor has, among other things, seen (i) you, (ii) your X-rays and (iii) probably hundreds of similar cases: all of which none of us has ever seen.

- I'd see another doctor before I had major surgery, but my tendency, if I were in your shoes, would be to give a lot of credence to what the doctor's telling you.

post #5 of 27

I have 2 herniated disks in my neck. Last year an MRI confirmed this. Probably the result of a major ski accident in my younger years. 

 

In my search for an surgeon, to have an artificial disc replacement, I consulted with many physicians.  The short story is, you will get almost as many opinions as the amount of doctors you see.  The best advise I received was don't have surgery until you have to have it.  I was told not to ski by the first doctor that saw the MRI.

 

I have 25 days in this year, so far.  My weekly routine includes neck exercises and home traction. ice and ibuprofen are needed occasionally.  I'm in my mid fifties and it's a common belief that 50% of us in this age bracket have degenerative disc disease.   

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hunter7 View Post

 

The short story is, you will get almost as many opinions as the amount of doctors you see.  The best advise I received was don't have surgery until you have to have it.  I was told not to ski by the first doctor that saw the MRI.

 

I'm in my mid fifties and it's a common belief that 50% of us in this age bracket have degenerative disc disease.   


 

Well, no argument with you there.  I've received so many different opinions, it's all a bit confusing.  Have gone through a round of physical therapy and a course of steroids.  Helped considerably!  But did not totally alleviate the symptoms.  So, yesterday, went in for a type of nerve block procedure.  Really just another steroid treatment, but done by injection directly on the effected nerve.  Doc says it will take a few days to see if this helps.  Will also be going back in for more PT.  If it doesn't do the job, then the next step would be surgery.

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

UPDATE:

 

Well, after quite a bit of PT and two rounds of steroids, with continuing loss of strength in my arm, finally had a consultation with a neurosurgeon who basically said "It's time.  You've got more than a herniated disk, you have bone spurs that need to be removed.  You need to get this done before you do permanent damage to the nerves."

 

Back home after the surgery now which went very well, according to the doctor.  Have a bit of recovery period to work through (6 - 10 weeks), which will put a big crimp in my golf game this season, but I expect to be fully ready for the next winter's ski season.  So far, the toughest part of all this is wearing the neck brace 24/7 and not being able to drive.  Funny how much one can miss the simple act of getting behind the wheel and how much a part of our daily lives that act is!  6 weeks without driving may just send me over the edge!

 

I have to admit it felt like a very big step to take for a minor problem, but then everytime that I tried to pick up my briefcase or a bag of groceries and couldn't, it was a great reminder as to why this needed to be done. 

post #8 of 27

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tag View Post

UPDATE:

 

Well, after quite a bit of PT and two rounds of steroids, with continuing loss of strength in my arm, finally had a consultation with a neurosurgeon who basically said "It's time.  You've got more than a herniated disk, you have bone spurs that need to be removed.  You need to get this done before you do permanent damage to the nerves."

 

Back home after the surgery now which went very well, according to the doctor.  Have a bit of recovery period to work through (6 - 10 weeks), which will put a big crimp in my golf game this season, but I expect to be fully ready for the next winter's ski season.  So far, the toughest part of all this is wearing the neck brace 24/7 and not being able to drive.  Funny how much one can miss the simple act of getting behind the wheel and how much a part of our daily lives that act is!  6 weeks without driving may just send me over the edge!

 

I have to admit it felt like a very big step to take for a minor problem, but then everytime that I tried to pick up my briefcase or a bag of groceries and couldn't, it was a great reminder as to why this needed to be done. 

Tag,

 

Thanks for the update. Keep us posted on the progress. Feel good!

 

cfr

post #9 of 27

Tag, what a great opportunity to work on the putting.  Get healthy!

 

My issues don't come close to some of the problems to be read on here.  Have some deformed lower vertebrate low in the back, genetic, been there since birth.  Doctors wanted to do what surgeons like to do, but I hate  knives cutting on me, so went exploring and it has helped me a lot for the past 30+ years.  Here's what has helped me a lot, this thing used to debilitate me every year or two, now it is every 5 or 6 years.

 

The simplest reduction I learned though and it's a daah.  When your lower back starts bothering you, start carrying your wallet on the opposite side.  Have been told that for you ladies same for your purses.  This sounds too easy, but try it, it may hurt less.

post #10 of 27

Tag,

 

A speedy recovery to you.

 

"When your lower back starts bothering you, start carrying your wallet on the opposite side.  "

 

This is good but for men (or those that carry wallets in their back pocket), move the wallet to the front or jacket pocket.  Sitting with a wallet in your back pocket gets you out of alignment.

 

Think about the articles written in "Ask The Boot Guys" where they talk about a coupl strips of duct tape to change the lift under your boots or the impact an 1/8th inch heel lift can have.  Then look at how fat your wallet is

 

I have scoliosis of my lower back (points towards my left) and I carried a wallet in my left hip pocket until I was 40. Talk about a long learning curve!

 

I do agree with Stranger that you should alternate sides when carrying things.  I'm right handed but have a stronger grip with my left hand because the Marine Corps insists that you carry everything in your left when in uniform.  Muscles should be developed uniformily.

 

I have problems with my shoulder because my chest muscles are more developed than my back.  At least thats what the folks at PT and the Chiro tell me.

post #11 of 27

errata, delete

post #12 of 27

Scheduled for Cortizone on Monday. This will be my third application. The last one was in August and worked very well in combo with Crossfit (strength training), until I hit the tree at Killington. Big set back!

 

The doctor I see does these injections. That's his specialty. He says that he is a 'hammer' and since I walked through the door, I am a 'nail'.

 

He recommends seeing a chiropractor. I went to Crossfit instead and the strength training tied the treatment together. But with an injury, weight training can be a fine line. Yesterday he warned me about lifting heavy, example: dead lifts at 1 rep or 3 reps(too much), 10 or 12would be a more cautious approach. So yesterday, 5 sets of 10 dead lifts (mixed in with 3 other exercises) at a weight that I could do 15 reps. Not saying you should join Crossfit, but strength training has made a huge difference in the health of my back. The problem with strengh training with weights is that the risks cannot be eliminated. People with back problems tend to have muscle weakness which should be addressed.


Edited by Paul Jones - 5/14/2009 at 12:14 pm GMT
post #13 of 27

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tag View Post

UPDATE:

 

 

I have to admit it felt like a very big step to take for a minor problem, but then every time that I tried to pick up my briefcase or a bag of groceries and couldn't, it was a great reminder as to why this needed to be done. 


Back surgery is always scary, but it has come a long way in the last 20 years.  It sounds like this was the right thing to do.  I hope you will keep us updated on your progress.  Good luck and heal quickly.
 

 

post #14 of 27

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

Scheduled for Cortizone on Monday. This will be my third application. The last one was in August and worked very well in combo with Crossfit (strength training), until I hit the tree at Killington. Big set back!

 

The doctor I see does these injections. That's his specialty. He says that he is a 'hammer' and since I walked through the door, I am a 'nail'.

 

He recommends seeing a chiropractor. I went to Crossfit instead and the strength training tied the treatment together. But with an injury, weight training can be a fine line. Yesterday he warned me about lifting heavy, example: dead lifts at 1 rep or 3 reps(too much), 10 or 12would be a more cautious approach. So yesterday, 5 sets of 10 dead lifts (mixed in with 3 other exercises) at a weight that I could do 15 reps. Not saying you should join Crossfit, but strength training has made a huge difference in the health of my back. The problem with strengh training with weights is that the risks cannot be eliminated. People with back problems tend to have muscle weakness which should be addressed.


Edited by Paul Jones - 5/14/2009 at 12:14 pm GMT


I'm getting my second shot tuesday.First didn't do much.
 

Degenerative discs,L4,5,S1

I'm in the same boat as you Crossfitwise .No heavy deadlifts,cleans,snatches

Everything else is fine.

My neck ain't so good either.

Had 2 shots there last summer.

post #15 of 27

I feel like hell,  Maybe a fever, and the pain killer has worn off.  Now Crossfit until Wed.

post #16 of 27

double stick

one in L-5,one in S-1

Hope this cures my ills.

 

Paul ,you going to the "party" this weekend?

post #17 of 27

Looks like L5 - S and IC on the left side??

 

I went to Crossfit on Tuesday and it was good.  Burpees and pullups.

 

Wed, yesterday, it was ohs and running.  I did push press/running instead.  Great workout.  Right now my back feels great.

 

Everyone is excited about the Qualifier.  I will be there helping out.  Look for me.

post #18 of 27

Jason hired a band

post #19 of 27

Cervical disc replacement with an artificial disc versus cervical disc fusion.

 

Anyone have experience or opinion? The replacement surgery has been done for a lot longer in EU than US and so not much info here.

 

thanks.

 

Tag, hope things are going OK. sounds like you didn't have to have a fusion which is a good thing.

 

post #20 of 27

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

 

Everyone is excited about the Qualifier.  I will be there helping out.  Look for me.



 

I'll look for you.

My son Greg is in heat #9 @ 12:40

We had a few guys do the thruster /burpee WOD today. It sucks

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post

Cervical disc replacement with an artificial disc versus cervical disc fusion.

 

Anyone have experience or opinion? The replacement surgery has been done for a lot longer in EU than US and so not much info here.

 

thanks.

 

Tag, hope things are going OK. sounds like you didn't have to have a fusion which is a good thing.

 

Actually did have fusions done.  The surgeon removed the disks between C4-C5 & C5-C6, shaved off some bone spurs, collecting the bone material as he did so, bolted in some titanium plates to hold the vertebrae in place, and put the bone material back to make new bone to hold the vertebrae apart going forward.  Have a bone growth stimulator which I wear 4 hours daily to help promote the new bone material to grow and fuse.

 

Two weeks post-op now and things are progressing nicely.  Do find that if I over-extend myself doing too much activity or over reach for something or try to lift something too heavy, the neck reminds me quite quickly that I need to take a break.  Had a couple of unseasonably warm days (90+ degrees) and found this neck brace to be very uncomfortable in hot weather.  Most constant source of discomfort is still the incision site, not the neck.  All in all, feel like I'm making good progress.  Back in to the doctor's in a couple more weeks for another set of x-rays. 

 

post #22 of 27

Great news about your recovery. Two weeks is not much time and it seems you are doing well. Wishes for continued good progress.

post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 

Good checkup with the Doc yesterday.  X-ray looked good, doctor pleased with the progress, all in all good results.  Have been cleared to start driving again and can start to wean myself off the neck brace, starting with a couple of hours each day and working up from there.

 

Start PT next week and then one more return visit in 6 weeks for a another MRI. Hope at that point to be fully healed and ready to start prep for the ski season! 

post #24 of 27

Congratulations, Tag. It must be a great feeling to take that thing off for a few hours every day. How is your range of motion with the fusion?

 

Hope the PT goes well.

post #25 of 27

It looks like surgery was the way to go for you.  Glad to hear you are on the mend.  Congrats, and we'll see you on the hill next winter.

post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 
6 month + post surgery report: Had final visit with the surgeon last month - last set of x-rays too.  Very glad to hear that everything has healed just the way the doctor wanted it to.  Range of motion is good, but the neck muscles do get sore if I spend too much time at the computer or doing heavy lifting or other strenous tasks.  Doc says I should continue with some physical therapy and be better about doing my home exercises and monitoring how much time I spend on the computer. 

Best news so far, skiing over Christmas break went very well (despite less than stellar snow condtions) and am now two weeks into the race league schedule and have managed to get back to my more usual gold medal times of two seasons ago rather than last year's struggles to just get a silver medal (ya know, it's really hard to race when you can't move your head).
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 

Well, my ski season may be over before it starts.  The neck has been mostly trouble free since my surgery last year, but now am having shooting pains down my left leg, along with numbness and weakness in the leg.  Doc has diagnosed sciatica.  Already have done a round of steroids that didn't help.  Did the MRI yesterday and now have to await the results.  My doc is thinking with my history of bone spurs and bad discs that the cause of the pain is exactly that, more bone spurs and such, meaning another trip to the neurosurgeon.  Any bears out there delt with sciatica?  Any luck treating it?  If so, what worked for you?  Chiro?  Yoga?  Accupuncture?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Don't want to spend the season on the sidelines.

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