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  1. #1
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    Am I done with Mountain Biking?

    Last weekend I was working in the yard pulling up dead bushes and I had a very sharp pain run down my lower back (which had already given me trouble a few months earlier). I immediately was completely immobilized and the pain ran from my lower back and shot through my entire body. Somehow I was able to crawl to the front door and ring the doorbell. My wife came to the door and helped me get to my feet and inside.

    This happened early in the day on Sunday, I went inside and laid on the floor with ice packs on my back. My wife was kind enough to finish mowing the yard. On Monday I saw a doctor and he ordered an MRI. I got the results yesterday. Long story shortened I have 2 herniated discs in my lower back.

    The bad news is that I've gotten back into biking recently and decided to build my 1st bike, a hardtail. The bike I currently ride is an 01' Specialized Rockhopper, a full suspension. I've read so many horror stories regarding this injury I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get back on the bike. If I do heal up is a hardtail out of the question in the future? Should I get rid of the hardtail? Should I be looking to get rid of both bikes and look into Road?

    Am I just being pessimistic and depressing myself?

  2. #2
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    Oh, I'm 36, 5' 10" 165lbs and in pretty decent shape.

  3. #3
    King of Middle Earth
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    You never know with back injuries like this.

    Stay away from strenuous activities for a while and then once you feel fairly "normal", try riding around your block to see how it goes.

    I have friends with this condition and although they have periodic issues, they are able to maintain a fairly regular, active life style.

    Think positive. I'd wager that you'll be riding again and again and again.

  4. #4
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    I've got a buddy with early-onset rheumatoid arthritis in his lower back and he rides rigid faster than I can even think of going. Take it slow to get back to riding. I hang out on the Freeride/DH forum when I get concerned about injuries creeping up.
    Last edited by intheways; 09-29-2012 at 08:43 PM.

  5. #5
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    I think you are 95% likely to recover most of you lifestyle. You might not ever help a friend move a piano, though.....

    I blew up my back on the Bering sea at the age of 23 (couldn't straighten my right leg). These days, biking is almost a non-issue for me as far as back health.

    My experiences is that doctors often know very little about back issues Find a good Physical Therapist (try several). Resist surgery (my primary regret).

    Two activities that were therapeutic for me are rock climbing and backpacking (with a less than huge pack). Both make traction and I'd be pain free after a day of either. Though I would have to stretch to prevent muscle tightness from setting in and causing more pain. For me it goes like that. Biking is fine for me. When my back hurts, I lower my seat 2 or 3mm and I make sure to stretch my periformis muscles and hamstrings. This may be exactly the wrong recommendation for you. You need a good PT to figure it out. But at the end of the day, When you get sore, you need to know what to do. And there is conditioning to prevent you from getting sore in the first place....

    PM me if you want more info. You will find your way....

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies guys, got my Epidural today, asked the Doc all kinds of questions. Anyway he's saying he's hoping for a 2 month recovery and 1 more shot in the process in the next 2-4 weeks.

  7. #7
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    About 15 yrs ago, I ruptured a disc in my lower back. While it took about a year to heal completely, I haven't had any problems with it since. I went through 3 rounds of epidural injections. Don't get down if a month after the first one the pain comes back. The second shot seemed to only work for a couple of days; a couple of weeks after the third shot, the pain disappeared. I also did physical therapy and had a really good chiropractor that was into movements of the body rather than bending and crunching.
    While I'm still careful with my back and do things like sleep with pillows under my knees, biking doesn't seem to have any negative affect - and I ride mostly rigid SS. It may seem strange and my chiropractor couldn't believe it but when my back would hurt bad, I'd take my Jeep out on a ride. The bouncing seemed to lessen the pain.

  8. #8
    FloridaKeys Fishing Guide
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    Even though I don't have a blown disc, my lower back is tweaked from a 2nd story fall as a 4 year old and 30 years at sea. My back told me to get an FS bike and get rid of the hard tail I had. Glad I listened, but not everybody is the same, so the OP needs to take the time to heal and see what will work best for him. I'd avoid DH racing though...
    Current ride(s) 2011 Santa Cruz Blur LT

  9. #9
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    No

    Herniated a disk in my back almost 20 years ago. It healed itself in a few months. Back bothered me off and on for many years until I bought a Tempur-Pedic mattress. It has never bothered me at all since then.

  10. #10
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    Always had a bad back in my younger (16-29) years from playing catcher in Little League and high school baseball. I crashed my dirt bike at age 29 and that healed my back. Go figure...

    I've worked in law enforcement for the last 26+ years and back injuries are the #1 source of medical retirements. Some guys never come back and others heal 100% and are better than they ever were so obviously everybody is different. If I were you, I'd definitely go full suspension just to play on the safe side but obviously there are others that haven't had to go that route from reading the other responses.

  11. #11
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    You're gonna pull through like a champ (In my opinion, which is not that of a medical professional but rather based on anecdotal evidence). Also, you're going to have a good excuse to never help anyone move ever again.

    I believe the 'horror stories' are more likely from when the disc has degenerated and has to be replaced. It's a much harder recovery for most people.

    That, and people really like to whine and moan and complain about stuff to get attention, so many injuries don't seem as bad when they happen to you as when they happen to someone who doesn't know how to htfu.

  12. #12
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    Eighteen years ago I was carrying a full trash can to the curb and stepped in a slight depression in the yard. I severely herniated two discs in my lower back and had to have surgery to fix them. Six months later I re-injured riding up a short slope on my mountain bike. Not anywhere near as severe that time and my doc sent me to physical therapy. I've been riding ever since without issues, both hard tail and full suspension bikes.

    You're going to be fine.
    I'm enjoying my childhood way too much to ever give it up.

  13. #13
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    I'm cleared to walk briskly on the Eliptical at the Gym! I can't wait to go!

  14. #14
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    I'm 39 and herniated a disc about 2 years ago (threw it out doing power cleans with too much weight, no belt, not enough core work). It's still bulging and will never go back in without some surgery to cut it off. It was real sucky the first 6-8 months. I had to be careful and had to stop some activities. Slowly went back.

    Cycling is pretty good as it pumps the disc, they also recommend bouncing up and down while sitting on a bouncy ball to do the same thing. You'll be fine, you just need to address the cause of weakness in your back and try to do more core exercises in the future.

    I have horrible flexibility still and am just lazy about stretching. However, I will do hyperextensions on a GHD and situps, and this is a tremendous help. Also doing plank holds off the floor on your forearms will help prevent these kinds of injuries. Now you need to recover and then focus on slowly building up your core so you have some protection.

  15. #15
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    Iím 37 have had a herniated disc since i was 15 due to playing football. Best advice is to get yourself the best matress you can afford. Ever since i bought a tempur-pedic my back pain has gone away. I ride a hardtail and once in a while get some pain if i push it too hard. Just make sure you give your back enough time to rest before you begin riding again.

  16. #16
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    As I look at my bike everyday as I heal from a broken tibial plateau and calcaneus break with a blood clot, I ask the same question. Is it a sane question?

    I will return I tell myself, but not haphazardly as I once did. My goal is to remain with my DH bike but only pin drops and rock gardens. I hereby on this forum first admit I will not go after doubles anymore. I've had bruised ribs and now thjs incident which had me close to knocking on heavens doors with that clot. I've successfully accomplished very big jumps in my 6 years of riding but at 38 and with a career I can't risk it anymore.

    Yesterday I did 10 pullups and 20 pushups so I'm
    Doing mucho rehab.

    Be smart and have plans if you do become injured is all I can recommend.

  17. #17
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    I'm really not trying to get depressed about this, but today I learned that the very same injection I had on Tuesday is infecting people all over the nation with Meningitis. As hopeful as I was yesterday this news has depressed me more than just about anything. It's 8:45p and all I want to do is go to bed and stare at the ceiling......

  18. #18
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    I'm sorry man. That's just horrendous. Hang in there. Keep us posted.

  19. #19
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    I dodged a bullet, Doctor finally called me back today and said that the Pharmacy they typically use was short staffed and couldn't get it for the procedure so they used a different pharmacy that day who doesn't carry the tainted Steroid. I will say the anxiety I experienced thinking I could be headed for the death bed over the last 24 hours has made me realize that my back injury isn't all that bad

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mavtek View Post
    I dodged a bullet, Doctor finally called me back today and said that the Pharmacy they typically use was short staffed and couldn't get it for the procedure so they used a different pharmacy that day who doesn't carry the tainted Steroid. I will say the anxiety I experienced thinking I could be headed for the death bed over the last 24 hours has made me realize that my back injury isn't all that bad
    Small miracles!

  21. #21
    PMK
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    FWIW, get a road bike. Don't get on the dirt too soon. As for the hardtail, I would plan on going FS. You'll be able to ride the hardtail, however, if it creates a reinjury, do you want to lose all what you gained.

    Obviously, as mentioned everyone is different. The other thing with a disc injury is that when you ask on the internet, many replies or even original posts don't fully explain the damage.

    As an example, November 2011, I strained my back lifting some rolls of carbon fiber out of the freezer. A visit to the doctor had him say "keep doing what you do, if it hurts don't do it". Rested for a week, felt good, continued riding. Towards Christmas, it didn't hurt to ride, it was constantly sore. Rode the weekend of New Years, and the following got an MRI. Between the time of the MRI and seeing the doctor to go over it, I continued to ride. All rides I would not hurt, but be a bit sore afterwards. Rode the 62 miles at San Felasco. Pretty much couldn't do much after that. So I visit the doctor on the scheduled appointment, he reads the MRI and says, bulged disc. Rest and it will heal itself. After about a week of crippling pain, I see the doctor again. He listens to the chain of events. I insist on a new MRI. Next doctor visit, he looks at the new MRI and compares to the previous one. Now I have a bulged disc that had extruded and is pressing against nerves. So after a couple of months off, I was able to road ride. My initial plan was no off-road until January 2013.

    Yes I am now riding off-road again. But with caution. Ride a lot more on-road though.

    These injuries take a while to heal. Most folks that had surgery say avoid surgery.

    FWIW, our favorite bike was the Fandango tandem hardtail. The last ride on it was the one to extruded the disc. Sadly my and I sold it.

    We kept the full suspension Ventana tandem, and have the road tandem. The single bikes are seldom ridden.

    You will probably heal with minimal issues if you give it a lot of easy time. After that, stretch, stay strong, be careful and maybe buy a FS bike.

    PK
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  22. #22
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    I truly resisted the temptation to write some Panglossian crap about everything working out. glad I didn't..... but you are a lucky SOB.

  23. #23
    FloridaKeys Fishing Guide
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    Quote Originally Posted by mavtek View Post
    I dodged a bullet, Doctor finally called me back today and said that the Pharmacy they typically use was short staffed and couldn't get it for the procedure so they used a different pharmacy that day who doesn't carry the tainted Steroid. I will say the anxiety I experienced thinking I could be headed for the death bed over the last 24 hours has made me realize that my back injury isn't all that bad
    Congrats with that!! You're very lucky!
    Current ride(s) 2011 Santa Cruz Blur LT

  24. #24
    FX4
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    Quote Originally Posted by skullcap View Post
    Eighteen years ago I was carrying a full trash can to the curb and stepped in a slight depression in the yard. I severely herniated two discs in my lower back and had to have surgery to fix them. Six months later I re-injured riding up a short slope on my mountain bike. Not anywhere near as severe that time and my doc sent me to physical therapy. I've been riding ever since without issues, both hard tail and full suspension bikes.

    You're going to be fine.
    PT was going to be my suggestion. I was a real mess about three year ago and three months in PT got everything straightened out. Back pain, shoulder pain, foot pain, hip pain. It's kind of amazing how a good physical therapy specialist can sort it all out. Since then I have stayed physically fit and at the slightest sign of trouble I start back in with my PT exercises. I have been pretty good and mostly pain free ever since.

  25. #25
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    my story might help a little bit im a 17 yr old Downhiller and i had oil from my chain get to my brakes i was moving at 50 mph and i hit a 3 foot tall ramp about 25 ft across i tried to slow down but i went off the ramp my rear wheel hit the down ramp and the rim broke in 3 different places my chest bounced off the stem, i did a front flip and slammed on the ground i was knocked out for 30 min and once i woke up i couldnt feel my legs... i called my brother who called 911 later the fire department got me on a back board and in an ambulence lucky as soon as i got to the hospital i got the feeling back in my legs thank the lord.. but after 5 months im back on my bike later i went back to that trail and went over that jump again i overcame my previous fear and it feels amazing

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