Spinal Disc Fusion - Alternatives / Success Stories- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Bonking ... not feelin' well Spinal Disc Fusion - Alternatives / Success Stories

    Hello guys,
    I had a road bike accident a number of years back, which I am due for spinal surgery in 6 weeks time, and really worried reading horror stories Ive been reading on the internet.

    According to my surgeon, I have advanced degeneration on the C5/C6, which is pinching on my nerves. This is going on a number of years, and ive almost exhausted all avenues of treatment. Im 40 years old.
    My surgeon reckons i will benefit greatly from c5/c6 fusion.. but hes a surgeon after all, and im worried i could completely screw up my life if things dont go well... alternative being just manage the current situation, which is not ideal either. Im damned if i do, and damned if i dont, and im scared to death of potential bad outcome.

    I dont actually have any pain, per se, but have intense numbness in my shoulders and ribs.. and my body has basically collapsed around this tension... my left shoulder and ribs is chronically cranked up, right knee and hip not in a good place due to tension and imbalances above.. and basically struggling to walk at this stage... thankfully i can still cycle and do some basic bike trails.
    I dont seem to be in as much pain as some people with disc issues, but i am effectively living a nightmare
    I just want to be active again.
    Has anyone found alternatives to surgery i.e. herbal etc which might mitigate or put off surgery? Ill try anything at this stage, but i am coming very close to taking on surgery.
    Some positive surgery stories will help also... just seems to be so many people suffering post-op when i research disc fusion

  2. #2
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    That sucks. Had the surgery done in 1992 while in the military. They fused C5/C6 with cadaver bone. Long story short - had some very minor problems after surgery, but once got strength back the neck has been solid. Been mountain biking since 1996 and have had numerous surgeries, but no problems with neck(knock on wood).

  3. #3
    KDS
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    Had c3 thru c7 fused in January 2017 (I'm 61 now), was able to resume riding on a limited (due to also needing a hip replacement) basis in the spring of that year. Had the hip done in November 2017, back riding by late January 2018. Neck has been no problem for riding, but I try not to do anything crazy. I had one OTB crash a few weeks ago with no ill effects on the fusion. I had a great neurosurgeon, he explained the risks very honestly (there are risks associated with surgery, but if I didn't do it, I would lose use of my hands-made the decision easy, no regrets). Many of my problems (pain and weakness) were gone as soon as I woke up after surgery.

  4. #4
    Fragilie
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    Based on what you've said, I'd say it's a no brainer, It's only gonna get worse. I type this as I'm 10 wks post op from ACDF C4-C6 and am 43. Very active, raced the BME and Scott Enduro series the last three years and some motocross too. I See my surgeon on Thursday with hopes of him releasing me for some light riding. This surgery is pretty well known as they do almost 200k a year, just research your surgeon and find one that your happy with. I live in Albuquerque, NM and went to Phoenix,AZ to have mine done. Still experiencing a few minor nerve issues but am told it should resolve in time. Also, look up Laura Wilikerson on YouTube, Olympic diver whi just had her C5-7 fused 3 months ago and is already back to diving.
    It's Better To Die On Your Feet Than To Live On Your Knees. (Emiliano Zapata)

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply guys

    Great to hear some really positive stories, definitely helps!! My surgeon is probably the best in the country (Ireland), so i have no concerns.

    ill check out that youtube video, thanks again

  6. #6
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    Stop reading online reviews also. It’s only people who have had “bad” experiences and there’s no way to Vet them either unless you know them personally. Physical therapy afterwards? Pre-surgery healthy? Lifestyle? Etc...
    Denver, CO

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dodonohoe View Post
    I dont seem to be in as much pain as some people with disc issues, but i am effectively living a nightmare
    I just want to be active again.
    Has anyone found alternatives to surgery i.e. herbal etc which might mitigate or put off surgery? Ill try anything at this stage, but i am coming very close to taking on surgery.
    Some positive surgery stories will help also... just seems to be so many people suffering post-op when i research disc fusion
    You are pretty limited in options. Advanced degeneration in a 40 year-old caused by spine trauma suggests a low likelihood of success with non-surgical approach.

    In perusing the internet for horror stories about laminectomy with fusion, make sure you separate out the lumbar fusion stories from the cervical fusion stories. They're completely different things with different implications and different success/complication stories..

  8. #8
    Deroymac
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    I had C-4, C-5 and C-6 fusion surgery done in May of 2018 and in another three weeks should have all my physical restrictions lifted. My surgeon told me the day after the surgery how lucky I was that I had it taken care of, he said the surgery took longer than scheduled as he had to remove bone spurs and I was one fall from a very bad outcome. I apparently had broken my neck years ago and it had self-fused, more than likely from a MTB crash I had racing back in the 80's. I just dealt with it for years not knowing what was causing pain and nerve damage. I'm 64 now and wish I would have this surgery done years ago. The surgery is not bad at all the worst part is waiting for neck to completely heal so I can get back to my normal active life. I do physical therapy daily and a lot of my numbness has gone but I was told from the start to give nerve damage at least two years and that I may not get everything back. Hope this helps you, I would say just go for it, I'm glad I did!

  9. #9
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    guys.... thank you all so much for taking the time to respond here... its a massive help for me in terms of making a decision.

  10. #10
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    If you search around here, this very subject has been brought up a whole bunch. What Cuyuna says is true. IMO, the issue will only resolve itself by getting worse. Much worse. My short story was 6 years ago on Super Bowl Sunday, I woke up and went to get out of bed and my legs were not working. They were not doing or going where my brain was telling them to go. Quite a shocking surprise to me as my only complaints had been a very painful issue with my lumbar. In trying to get around, I had an insane occurrence of what felt like what I would expect a million volts coursing through my upper body and arms that dropped me like a ton of bricks. Time to get to the ER! I complained about low back issues but the Doc said no way when I relayed my electric shock experience that had just happened. Turns out, from a minor hyperextension of my neck 2 years prior which was "solved" by some PT and traction therapy, that issue turned into radical spinal stenosis and was completely constricting my spinal cord. I was in terrible physical shape and never understood really what was happening up to that point as my legs were wasting and really skinny toothpicks. From the waist down, I was wasting away slowly. This acute occurrence was actually a God Send and identified an issue that was completely fixed by what you're looking at having done.

    My problem location was C5-C6 but my phenomenal Neurosurgeon studied my fresh MRI and saw degeneration of C6/C7 and suggested that I allow him to fuse that as well otherwise, with the change of geometry from the repair above, I'd be in within a year having that one done, too. It was a no brainer. I ended up with a cool looking titanium plate reinforcing the C5-C7 fusion with cadaver bone graft. It's been 6 years now and I have had absolutely no issue related to this procedure. I had pretty bad nerve damage but think I got most of it back. I only wish my low back surgery had been so successful. I have no limitations in range of movement but will admit, I have a real tough time riding in the drops on my road bike. That is probably the only time I experience pain from strain when looking forward while leaning forward as you would on the road bike. Mountain biking was not my sport at the time. I had a bike, rode it a few times and determined it was too much work so I sold it a few years prior. MTB'ing was actually my desired recovery sport when my surgeon suggested it would be okay when I was ready to start that type of activity.

    So....get'er done and get on with your life!

  11. #11
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    Happy to chime in here. I am at exactly 5 weeks today from a L4-L5 fusion. Leading up to it I had sciatica in both legs, and stiff sore back. Did not bother me biking, but standing walking were hard. Doc thought initially a micro diseconomy would work but after a current MRI, he said fusion was the option ( my facet joints were pretty bad and that was causing my pain) I was terrified and bummed on that diagnosis..But as others have said, find a great doc and get multiple opinions...Now back to my results..3 hr surgery and felt like crap from anesthesia , but after day 2 was up and walking. I had very little pain ( a few muscle relaxers at night the first few nights and nothing but OTC Tylenol for pain the first week) I have no sciatica at all, can walk as far as I want 3+ miles with no problem, and back feels fine. I go in next week to get my X-ray and meet doc, but he is saying I am doing great. Start PT next week also to get muscle movement going.. Bottom line, is you can't "yoga or stretch your way out of this". Don't wait till your so miserable you have to go in. I was on the fence 1 week up to my surgery, cause I did not want to have them go in an cut me up worse than I was. Yes it sucks, I won't be riding much this summer, but Doc says I can ride road at 3 mos..Just don't fall is all he is saying. Hell if I can at least get on the bike and get some easy spinning miles that is a win for me...Everyone is different, but don't get to the point where you are so miserable it really affects your way of life. Hope this helps but there are good results and stories from fusions..

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by eggdog View Post
    Happy to chime in here. I am at exactly 5 weeks today from a L4-L5 fusion. Leading up to it I had sciatica in both legs, and stiff sore back. Did not bother me biking, but standing walking were hard. Doc thought initially a micro diseconomy would work but after a current MRI, he said fusion was the option ( my facet joints were pretty bad and that was causing my pain) I was terrified and bummed on that diagnosis..But as others have said, find a great doc and get multiple opinions...Now back to my results..3 hr surgery and felt like crap from anesthesia , but after day 2 was up and walking. I had very little pain ( a few muscle relaxers at night the first few nights and nothing but OTC Tylenol for pain the first week) I have no sciatica at all, can walk as far as I want 3+ miles with no problem, and back feels fine. I go in next week to get my X-ray and meet doc, but he is saying I am doing great. Start PT next week also to get muscle movement going.. Bottom line, is you can't "yoga or stretch your way out of this". Don't wait till your so miserable you have to go in. I was on the fence 1 week up to my surgery, cause I did not want to have them go in an cut me up worse than I was. Yes it sucks, I won't be riding much this summer, but Doc says I can ride road at 3 mos..Just don't fall is all he is saying. Hell if I can at least get on the bike and get some easy spinning miles that is a win for me...Everyone is different, but don't get to the point where you are so miserable it really affects your way of life. Hope this helps but there are good results and stories from fusions..
    Personally, I'm glad for your success, but your lumbar fusion has almost nothing to do with the OP's cervical fusion.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Personally, I'm glad for your success, but your lumbar fusion has almost nothing to do with the OP's cervical fusion.
    ...but I'm very interested in your procedure. Was it "open surgery?" I had an Endoscopic Laminectomy a year ago last November on L4/L5 instead of what was thought to require a fusion. Though I had "some" relief in "some" aspects, I'd consider what I went through a painful f'ing failure and I'm so over it that I want it all locked up now. You can PM me so we don't derail the cervical subject matter.

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