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Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?
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Author:  Alan Gage [ January 28th, 2019, 5:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

Apologies for cross posting this to multiple forums but I know the membership doesn't always overlap and there are opinions I respect on all of them.

I've had sciatic pain for a year now due to bulged discs. It's pretty bad and I haven't seen any improvement. In fact it's gotten a little worse in the last couple months. I've been seeing a spine specialist and we're about out of more conservative options. He recommended I speak with a neurosurgeon, which I did, and he said if I elect to go ahead with surgery that I'd be looking at a disc fusion. For sure L4/L5 and probably L5/S1 as well.

Curious to hear from others who have had similar procedures how this has affected your paddling and tripping. How long after recovery did you feel comfortable doing a strenuous trip? Or don't you feel comfortable with it?

Alan

Author:  david demello [ January 29th, 2019, 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

I was up for spinal fusion of my lumbar area but after much reading and time and exercise the pain is tolerable. But I am 77 Alan. There can be complications with fusion and once done cannot be undone. At least go for a second opinion. It will probably end some of your canoeing. Also there are reports that doing nothing has the same outcome. Think long and hard. Keep in contact with me on this. I was in my early 30s when spinal fusion was seriously suggested by my doctor. At 77 I have yet to go under the knife. And I still work at house remodeling.

Author:  Alan Gage [ January 29th, 2019, 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

Thanks for the response, David. I knew you'd had some back problems and was hoping you'd chime in.

I know there are a lot of people dealing with worse pain than me but at the point I am right now I can't do many of the things I like doing. I work at an auto repair shop and thankfully moved from the shop into the office a few years ago. I still do some work in the shop but there aren't very many things I can still do down there. If my job was still working on cars I'd be out of a job.

I'm trying to start a small sawmill business, which obviously involves a lot of lifting. I can do it but I have to be slow and careful.

I want to build a new shop this spring so I can get my woodworking equipment set back up again. It's doubtful I can do it the way I am now.

The following year I'd like to build a new house.

Canoe tripping is completely off the table. In addition to the sciatic pain. My butt muscles cramp up and my hamstrings won't loosen up. I have a hard enough time going for walks on flat terrain, let alone trying to portage rough terrain while carrying a load (which I probably couldn't pick up anyway). Sleeping in bed can be hard. Can't imagine sleeping on the ground.

This has been going on for a year now and I've been seeing a spine specialist regularly. We've been trying conservative treatments with no/limited success. He finally recommended I talk with a neurosurgeon, who is the one that said I'd be looking at a fusion if I choose to go ahead. He also said I should try everything possible before going that route. I'm giving acupuncture a try now.

Alan

Author:  david demello [ January 29th, 2019, 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

Time can be the best healer. here is a read: https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news ... tudy-finds

Author:  raven4 [ January 29th, 2019, 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

In May of 2017 did damage to my back getting quad out of muskeg...referral was made in La Loche...diagnosed with L4/L5, L5/S1 by spine clinic in Saskatoon in October of 2017...due to where I live I dealt with symptoms you speak of for a year until I could get into physio this past autumn...in addition to an exercise routine designed for me I went through several sessions of "needling" which ended recently...knock on wood I am good to go...been about a month with no issues...I'm convinced the "needling" (not the same as acupuncture) was a major factor in recovery.

Author:  red pine [ January 31st, 2019, 10:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

www.taoist.org

find a taoist tai chi class near you.
the stories are amazing...no matter your age or fitness, pain relief is just one of the benefits.

Author:  rhumline [ February 5th, 2019, 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

This likely doesn't apply but in '79 I crushed L1 in a fall, ended up having T12 - L1 - L2 fused and spent six weeks in hospital and a year to fully (?) recover. The fusion included rods along each side of my spine, when I bent over they would threaten to poke through my skin (they didn't actually, just felt like it).

After two years I was strong enough to return to tripping, borrowed a friends 80lb. Grummond Aluminum and headed to Opeongo, portaged the 1350 into Proulx etc. etc. The paddling was fine, the portage was.....painful with many rest stops. But finished the trip, 5 days into Big Crow and back. After three years I had the rods removed, like when you change a flat tire you don't need the jack anymore, at least that's how it was 'splained to me.

I'll be 67 in April, still tripping and planning a return to Woodland Caribou this fall, fly in, two weeks paddling out. I have no plans to stop anytime soon, death notwithstanding. I also winter camp, haul a lake sled usually around 130lbs. loaded, don't plan on stopping that either.

The main thing I do is limit the compression loads and never be in a hurry (ask my wife about not being in a hurry re: reno's, ahem). That being said I do have ostieo in my thumbs, wrists and big toes (wtf ?) so who knows what will end me first. My situation differs from yours I think 'cause mine was a structural injury that was repaired and healed as apposed to a degenerative disc problem, so I can't really comment one way or the other on fusion for you. Soooo, I guess my ramblings are kinda pointless.......


All the best though, whatever you deside.

Cheers, Ken

Author:  Alan Gage [ February 7th, 2019, 3:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

david demello wrote:
Time can be the best healer. here is a read: https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news ... tudy-finds


The main question that study raises in my mind is, after 8 years, did the initially successful surgeries backslide or did the patients who didn't have surgery improve and catch up with those who did have surgery.

Either way the patients who elected to have surgery had at least 2 years of better health than those who didn't. That can be worth a lot. That study was for Stenosis. I'm not sure what that surgery entails or how long lasting it's supposed to be.

I still haven't decided if I'll have surgery or not. I'm getting a 2nd opinion next week and have now had 4 sessions of acupuncture with no results. One more session on Monday and then they want to try some chiropractic stuff.

It seems I continue to get worse rather than better. I can't do many of the things that make me happy, or at least not in the way I want to do them. I'm taking 1600mg of Ibuprofen/day and can't get by without it. Even with it I struggle and have a hard time getting to sleep. I'd hate to get all through this only to wind up with an ulcer from the Ibuprofen. It's hard to know how long to wait. If I give it another year and I still don't get improvement that will feel like 2 years of my life I've lost. And then I'll still be looking at surgery/recovery with the chance of permanent damage done by waiting too long.

Quote:
I went through several sessions of "needling" which ended recently...knock on wood I am good to go...been about a month with no issues...I'm convinced the "needling" (not the same as acupuncture) was a major factor in recovery.


I did a little reading on 'needling' and I believe my acupuncturist started doing some of this as well. He told me upfront he doesn't subscribe to just one school on acupuncture and blends methods. The last couple sessions have been getting a little more aggressive with needles inserted into muscles I've been having cramping issues with.

rhumline - Your success story helps give me hope if I do have to have surgery. I posted this on canoetripping and bwca.com as well and got mostly success stories from people who have had back surgeries and successfully continued with an active lifestyle. One person had fusion done over the winter and was canoe tripping in June!

Alan

Author:  david demello [ February 8th, 2019, 4:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

Alan: "Either way the patients who elected to have surgery had at least 2 years of better health than those who didn't. That can be worth a lot. That study was for Stenosis. I'm not sure what that surgery entails or how long lasting it's supposed to be."

The operation I was to have, because scoliosis was involved has a 78% complication factor. That reads failure.

Ibuprofen was/is my drug of choice for back pain. There is some new evidence that it can have negative effects and that Tylenol should be used to replace it. If I remember correctly 1600 mg was near what I used.

Author:  david demello [ February 14th, 2019, 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

Alan, my wife wanted me to forward and article in February Reader's Digest Titled "The Dangers of Surgery Centers"

Author:  Alan Gage [ February 14th, 2019, 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

I found it online. Interesting reading. Tell Juanita thank you for me!

Alan

Author:  Alex1 [ March 9th, 2019, 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

I didn't have fusion. I had two areas of stenosis and a screwed up disc. I could barely walk. I had a spinal op for the three and the pain was immediately gone. Pre op and after op have been about almost two years and my toes are just stating working again. The period before operation, and the recovery period I lost a lot of body strength. Just coming back but at over 70 I don't expect to ever be the same. I expect everyone will be different but I'm very happy with the operation!

Author:  Alan Gage [ March 9th, 2019, 5:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

It's good to hear you're recovering well, Alex, and thank you for your input. I've continued to go downhill since starting this post a couple months ago. In the morning I can stay on my feet for 10 minutes or so. By the end of the day once I stand up I can't find another chair fast enough. I can't really do any sort of manual labor. My days are spent either sitting or laying down.

I've continued to see a couple neurosurgeons, a 3rd chiropractor, acupuncturist, and the non-surgical back doctor I've been seeing for the last year. We're quickly exhausting other options and it appears a fusion is nearly imminent. Will be seeing a new physical therapist on Monday to see if he can pull any rabbits out of his hat. Otherwise it will be surgery. As much as I would like to avoid that I can't wait to get this over with. I thought last summer was terrible but I'd give anything to feel like that again.

Alan

Author:  Alan Gage [ April 25th, 2019, 10:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

I went in for my surgery on April 1st. It was 2 level fusion (L4/L5 and L5/S1) and they entered from the front (ALIF). They also made a small incision in my back to trim away some bone and add hardware. I woke up from surgery with no back pain (but plenty of surgical pain). They had me up walking the halls twice the day of surgery and let me go home on April 3rd.

After reading so many horror stories online I've been pleasantly surprised with my recovery. I was on a light medication regimen (Tramadol and Tylenol) for the first two weeks and since then nothing other than an occasional muscle relaxer. The first week I spent on my back a lot but got up often to shuffle around the house. Dressing and taking care of myself were slow but doable. After 2 weeks I was driving and went back to work part time, taking time off during the day to go home any lay down for a while before coming back.

It's about 3 1/2 weeks after surgery now and every day gets better. I've been walking a lot (doctors orders) and it feels so nice to get out again (wasn't able to go for walks for about 3 months before surgery). There is still some back and leg pain but compared to what I had been dealing with it's nothing and it keeps getting better. There is still a long recovery ahead but I'm very optimistic.

There won't be any canoe trips this year but it sure would be nice to head back north in 2020.

Alan

Author:  martin2007 [ April 25th, 2019, 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paddling and tripping post spinal fusion?

That's great news, Alan. Wishing you a smooth and steady recovery!

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