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Back surgery(18 posts)

Back surgeryghoss
Mar 8, 2002 5:45 AM
How many of you guys have had back surgery and have returned to riding with no problems?

The reason I ask is that I am having my second back surgery next week and I am to say the least concerned. I returned from the first pretty quick and was having a great early season.
I guess I am "trolling" for re-assurances.

Have a good riding season!
re: Back surgerymdooley0
Mar 8, 2002 5:54 AM
I had surgery on L5 S1 and was back on the bike in 6 weeks, no problems, no pain.

re: Back surgery (redux)Elefantino
Mar 8, 2002 6:01 AM

Good luck with your surgery. I don't know what kind you're having, but I have had three spinal surgeries in the last seven years, am about three weeks away from my fourth, and have had no problems with any of them. (Except the first, when I had a tumor removed from my spinal cord and lost the main nerve in my right leg. I don't have much of a calf muscle, but I compensate with a killer quad.)

The most important thing, as you know, when recovering from back surgery is not to rush it. Your bike will still be there, waiting for you, so take all the time your doctors tell you to take. And DON'T lift anything if you're not supposed to.

One thing you may note: You are not as "aero" as you used to be. I noticed this particularly after my second surgery, in November 2000, when I had a T-12/L-1 herniotomy/laminectomy for a blown disk. I had a flat stem before the surgery, now I have a 10-degree rise and 10mm shorter. It's just more comfortable for me this way.

Keep us posted on your progress.

Bad backsNessism
Mar 8, 2002 6:46 AM
I feel like a real wuss complaining about my back problems after hearing about some of you guys. Good luck to all of you.

For myself, my Dr. receintly told me that two disks in my lower back (L4 & L5?) are degenerating. Now I'm worried what will happen as I get older - only 40 now. For now, I can live with the pain. But what happens as time goes along? From what I'm told, biking is really not very good for the back because it causes the spine to bend over quite a bit.

Sorry to complain. You guys get better.

Bad backsgtx
Mar 8, 2002 7:21 AM
you might want to take a look at this book. Fixed me in two weeks after 3 horrible years (saw all the docs, got the herniated disc diagnosis, was told I wouldn't ride again, etc--now I'm back to racing mtbs with no pain whatsoever)
Thanks, I'll look into it (nm)Nessism
Mar 8, 2002 8:46 AM
Herniated Discs (the scoop)Wayne
Mar 8, 2002 9:10 AM
Lots of people have herniated discs and no back/neck problems (about a third of the population). Lots of people have back/neck problems and no herniated discs. But 9 times out of 10 if you go to the MD with back/neck problems, they MRI/X-ray and see a herniated disc that's near your problem they attribut your problem to the herniation no questions asked. That means surgery. So my advice to anyone whose been told they have a herniated disc is try a conservative approach first to make sure that your herniated disk is really the source of the problem and not just a coincidence.
Mar 8, 2002 9:22 AM
Take 100 people who complain of back pain and 100 people who have no back pain, do imaging on each group and you'll find an equal number of people in each group with "herniated" discs. Sarno claims that most back pain is in fact a muscle/brain thing, not a structural thing.
four?! and you're still gung ho about surgery?ET
Mar 8, 2002 11:15 AM
One of the reasons against surgery is that the back can start collapsing on itself, necessitating more surgeries. That is, the initial surgery is usually a success (upwards of 90%) but then a year or two later, there is recurrence or degeneration elsewhere (15-20%). A neurosurgeon explained it to me that the surgery likely will fix the immediate problem, but not necessarily the weakness which caused it. Can I ask what are the reasons for all your surgeries?

I'm going through all this now. I have sciatica (for at least two years now) starting above butt and running through it, hamstring and down my leg. It's painful to sit for long especially on cushioned surfaces, but unlike others here, I have no pain whatsoever while riding! Riding may even be helping, as I get to stretch out my back. Maybe it's that Selle San Marco Era saddle I find great but everyone else thinks is a rock. :-) MRI showed L4-L5 bulging disc pressing on nerve, possibly a result of feet problems. I am very flexible and have been doing yoga for over a year (I can now even do a headstand(!), and I'm not even from the Far East :-)), which, along with some fitness center machines, has strengthened my back to a point stronger than it's ever been and minimized the pain, but it's hard to live with this condition forever. I just started going to a PT for feet and back, and, despite the MRI and the neuro I saw who is chief of this and chief of that (the only thing missing is a wigwam :-)) and personally read my MRI, the PT thinks my sciatica is due to a tight piriformis muscle (now whom do I believe?). I've been doing the piriformis stretch for 3 weeks he said would yield definite results in two, but so far to no avail.

Whenever someone gets this L4-L5 sciatica thing, they have to make decisions, like how long to live with it (some say the disc is supposed to dessicate in a reasonable amount of time after which you'll feel better, but how long?), and whom to go to (chiro, PT, neuro), each with its own risks (alignments, traction, shots, surgery) and with results varying even within professions. There's some more fringe things one can try too, such as acupuncture, NST, reflexology, kinesiology. And then, of course, there's always Sarno's book ("It's all in your mind, you angry cyclist, and if you'll just buy my book, you'll get better" :-)).
he hegtx
Mar 8, 2002 11:19 AM
Have you read Sarno's book? And hey, you don't have to buy it--you can check it out from the library. ;)
Sarno's bookET
Mar 8, 2002 11:34 AM
Haven't read it, but read about it, including all the reviews at that site. Some who read it thought it was hogwash, and naturally there were miracle cures too. I'm open-minded enough to acknowledge that stress and anger can play a role or even be the sole cause of back pain, and have seen some (other than on that site) describe a self-observed relationship of stress to back pain before they ever even heard of the book. I think where it goes too far is in claiming that just about all back pain in the universe is a result of stress/anger. Several years ago, I was on top of the world, happy as can be being in the best shape of my life as a runner, taking age-group medals in road races. Then the feet fell apart, surgeries didn't go too well, have had trouble even walking, and the back joined the feet's party. It is only NOW, after the fact, that I'm a very angry cyclist. :-) Of course, maybe all that running was really to escape stress and anger...
Sarno's bookgtx
Mar 8, 2002 11:44 AM
That's cool. I would suggest maybe reading it and deciding for yourself. Most of what is in the reviews either oversimplifies or mistates many of Sarno's key points. The pain as Sarno explains it isn't just "in your head." It is very real, very painful, but it is muscle pain or tendon pain being caused by something your brain does in order to distract you from anxiety (obviously, this if pretty Freudian stuff--you can be a very happy person and still have some deep seated anxiety or anger--that's natural). Anyway, Sarno doesn't claim that ALL back pain is a result of this, and he does list other possible causes (mainly tumors). I think if you are suffering from chronic pain of any kind, it is worth at least reading his books--it's cheap (or free at the library) and will only take a few hours of your time. I have a very high pain tolerance, but my back pain almost drove me totally nuts for three years. Now I'm fine.
four?! and you're still gung ho about surgery?netso
Mar 8, 2002 12:58 PM
I have been doing Tai Chi, and it has really helped. Inheriting some money also helped, it definitely reduced the stress!
One ...Elefantino
Mar 8, 2002 2:40 PM
was a 5-inch Schwanoma (tumor that grows out of a nerve) that was removed from my spinal cord.

Two was a herniated disk at T12/L1 that resulted from stepping in a pothole while coaching girls soccer.

Three was a three-vertebrae fusion as a result of a broken neck and spinal cord damage than came with a cycling accident.

Four, if I have to have it, will be to fuse a basal fracture of the T7 (there's a big hunk just floating in my back that won't heal) that resulted from auto accident (a woman ran a red light and totaled my car, with me in it.)

Bonus! Five will be to repair the broken nose and deviated septum as a result of the broken-neck crash, which I was supposed to have in December but got postponed.

You asked.

Mar 8, 2002 4:51 PM
Thanks for all of the good thoughts.

My first surgery was a micro diskocotomy (sp), lived with the pain for about 2 years, did all of the conventional stuff. i had it done in December, started riding in mid jan. Worked up to about 100 miles a week (lsd). now here comes the stupid stuff: thought I was well enough to start on some weights. Pushed 50 lbs on leg press (1 time) and heard something pop. had an mri and my ruptured disk is taking up more than 75% of my spinal canal.

Anyway, enough crying. i will be back, in the meantime you guys and gals put in a few extra miles for me!!
Mar 9, 2002 7:29 PM
Yeow..... man, when they were handing out the hard luck pills you took a whole handful! :(

good luck with you future surgeries.
L5-S1 here...... :(CT1
Mar 8, 2002 8:29 PM
I DON'T recommend surgery unless you ABSOLUTELY need it.

Fortunately I've found biking to be relatively comfy..... although I do have problems when I'm doing an all out hill-climb.

Good luck with your surgery.
re: Back surgerysiclmn
Mar 9, 2002 10:57 AM
I too had back surgery 4 years ago and was much better but not perfect so I read Sarno's book and I had two years of total bliss with zero pain. But last year %25 of the pain has come back and I give up. I have read the book again but no luck. I stretch and go to a PT. For now I just ride easy rides and hope for the better.