Who's riding with fused vertebrae?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by NoTime, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. NoTime

    NoTime Adventurer

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    Sorry, I couldn't find the medical section of the forum, and it's a GS problem for me.... Learned recently that I have several deteriorated discs which, in combination with a smaller than normal channel for my spinal cord, means my spinal cord is being impinged and there is risk of serious and permanent damage. So surgery is scheduled and the doctor has given me the list of "don'ts" for the rest of my life. I can live with - but don't like - no skiing, no snowboarding, no bicycling, no martial arts. But no motorcycling?!! I began working on the logistics of getting my bike sold and it actually brought tears to my eyes. I absolutely LOVE my GS and adventure riding. I could care less about commuting, dinner rides or day trips to see the fall colors. I just love to hop on my bike, hit the road each day and keep going wherever seems interesting until the sun begins to sink in the sky and I ride that beast off into whatever cover I can find to hang my hammock for the night.

    Please, please, PLEASE tell me you've been through it and have been able to continue riding without extreme consequences?
    #1
  2. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    I imagine if there were extreme consequences for an individual, they wouldn't be hanging out at advrider.

    A forum like this: http://www.apparelyzed.com/forums/

    would probably be where they are. Fused vertebra means your spinal cord is less flexible. So if something bad happens in an accident, more of the force is transferred to a smaller portion of the spinal column, meaning it's easier to get injured. I don't think doctors would say "don't ride motorcycles" because of risk of aggrivation or minor injury, it's the risk of a catastrophic injury they're worried about.
    #2
  3. KSBEERHUNTER

    KSBEERHUNTER Been here awhile

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    Howdy,
    I continue to ride after having Harrington rods and seven screws installed in my lumbar spine and after having two plates and eight screws in my c- spine. This was not a result of an accident, it was from growing up on a farm and doing heavy manual labor when I was young. I am 57 now and still enjoy riding. I ride until I began to be uncomfortable which now days is 500 miles or so. It requires tweeking the seat, bars and foot pegs to get everything right. I don't do any off rode riding any more. Both wheels on the ground for me now days.
    #3
  4. Oldbear

    Oldbear Been here awhile

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    I'd suggest you keep your bike and get another doctor, your GS will definitely bring more happiness to your life :deal

    There should be a lot of people around here who have first-hand experience of recovering from a spinal fusion. Before they'll chime in I'll share my 0.02 on the subject.

    Don't worry it beforehand, if everything goes well your back should be better than ever. There are thousands and thousands of people riding their motorcycles after a spinal fusion.
    Hell, you even have competitive MX riders and active NFL players with fused discs :eek1

    A good friend of mine had to take a year off from riding after a decompression surgery, after that he's been riding his bike harder than ever. I'm myself currently healing from a ruptured disc (L3-L4) with a partially numb leg. There might be a surgery somewhere in the future but I'm hoping to cope without. Did I consider selling my bike? Absolute not, I bought another one :lol3

    Anyway, don't worry it beforehand. If it turns out you can't ride after the surgery then you'll find other things to enjoy in your life.
    #4
  5. diabolik37

    diabolik37 Deadly Gubba

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    My understanding was that when you have fused vertebraes (depending which ones) you may loose a bit of movement, but you can still do things like riding motorbikes, horses..... Two friends of mine have got L3 and L4 and L4 L5 the other , fused and they both live a normal life, including mastering cattles 10 hours per day on horses. The only problem and it is minimal as there is not much movement between L3 and L5 anyway, is when they need to bend down to pick up stuff. If anything their back is stronger than before.....
    #5
  6. Aviatordoc

    Aviatordoc BMW R1200 GSA LC and S1000XR rider Supporter

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    Yes, I have had my cervical spine fused at 2 levels. There is significant loss of rotational movement of my neck. I ride my K1200S, although needed the hilibars and a sargent seat. Still, can make about 200 miles or so and then have to take a break. Dont care, as long as I can ride, :clap
    I am extra careful and am all the gear... try extra hard not to be a hooligan.
    It maybe time for a GS/A in my stable.
    #6
  7. NoTime

    NoTime Adventurer

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    Thanks all for the replies.

    ConfigSpace, you're absolutely right: The doctor who said no riding said the risk of catastrophic injury is too great. Saw another doc and the only things the two agreed on were 1) I need the surgery soon and 2) no snowboarding (I didn't know snowboarding was so dangerous!). One wants to operate from the front AND back and fuse everything from C3/4 to T1. The other wants to just operate from the front and fuse 3 levels. One wants to use bone "plugs" the other, plastics. So how to reconcile all this???? Get a third opinion?!! A fourth? Just keep going til I find one that says "Take a month off of work and then go riding, you'll be fine."?
    #7
  8. woody's wheel works

    woody's wheel works Built to Last

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    so sez my favorite 87 year old chain smoking,scotch drinking mother in law,,

    we arrived at her place minutes after she was brought home from a partial stroke last year ,,,her 6 daughter in laws were fawning over her and admonishing her to quit smoking and drinking per doctors orders,,,
    she told em all that she wasn't about to give up what pleasured,,after all,,,
    we gotta die from something!''
    after affirming she'd cut her smoking down to 3 cigs from her pack a day habit,,she yells to me: ''hey woody,,fix me a double scotch n water on the rocks!! i gotta chase down these meds!!'':eek1:huh:1drink
    my kinda woman:freaky

    and so i too abide by the notion that my body and soul work better when i do the stuff that brings joy to my life,,,i too have C4-5 back in '82 and C6-7-8 fused in '98,,,,,,L4-5 with a ruptured disc since '80 and have continued to ride everywhere i choose to...

    mind you ,,i no longer enjoy the crotch rocket errgonomics,,,so i pick n choose my machines and adjust what i need to minimize pain,,higher handlebars,,,a seat that supports my thighs,,,a 21" front wheel on my R1200GS,,,,,(sitting more upright works best for me ),,,, a lighter helmet and so on,,in essence i modify my equipment and some habits so that i change them to allow me my passions in life rather than having others dictate my life.

    don't throw the baby out with the bath water,,,your baby is the joy of riding,,,now check out your options and then heal thy self and figure out which bike or mods will help give you an enjoyable experience in the saddle again

    we're rooting for ya
    :freaky
    woody
    #8
  9. rob

    rob Been here awhile

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    I've had four C level vertabra fused in two operations spaced out over three years. My surgeon gave me a list of activities to avoid. I did give up snow skiing, never did boarding, I still want to parachute (just once) and she said to quit riding. I nodded my head and said sure! But after the second surgery, she asked if I was still riding and I told her that's what I do, been doing it since '71. We agreed not to ride rough, off road stuff. I have lost strength in my left arm becaused I waited too long on the second surgery. I'm also looking for the lightest helmet possible.

    Good luck!

    Rob Lessen
    #9
  10. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    C3 and C4 compressed. I've been living with it for about 12 years. Numbness in lefthand/arm, pain in the neck.

    Sometimes loss of use of left hand (rarely). Doc said quit Road Racing motorcycles...I did.

    Didn't say anything about road bikes. Done 150,000 miles in the last 12 years.

    It actually feels BETTER when I ride. It's hell at night though on a lumpy bed in a cheap motel (but then it often is without injury).

    Injury was not from motorcycling...just a lifetime of abuse from weight training/water ski-ing/snow ski-ing/lifting stuff.
    #10
  11. diabolik37

    diabolik37 Deadly Gubba

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    You are a good man :D


    PS

    On a different subject, I just spent the past three days working on a front GS rim......
    You have no idea how much I wished you were here :D.

    No one in Australia wants to touch these rims......
    #11
  12. rdtrvlr

    rdtrvlr Been here awhile

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    I have 2 herniated discs. Sold bikes, quads, etc. Was supposed to have surgery in 1995. I read a book by dr John sarno called "healing back pain" 7 bucks on amazon Long story short, been back pain free for 17yrs. So much so I do 2500mi trips on my klr with zero back pain.
    #12
  13. Bigdog54

    Bigdog54 MX X-Over Adventurer

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    I've had two lower back surgeries but thankfully no fusions (yet). Unfortunately 20 years of MX and Police Work took its toll and I was forced to sell all my race bike. 30 foot triples are a little rough on the back. Thats when I purchased the GS.

    I think Doctors dont want you to ride motorcycles because one crash could screw everything up. It's not that riding itself is harmful, it's just the chance of screwing up all their hard work in one milli-second is much high than playing golf or watching TV.

    Do what you love, and dont be scared of life.

    Best advice for a cronic bad back....STRETCH YOUR LEGS AND HAMSTRINGS......DAILY :deal
    #13
  14. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    I raised a disabled daughter. As a result I have a partially herniated lumbar vertebrae and some rotator cuff injury. I asked my doc about a good PT. We agreed if I have any tingling, loss of strength or pain not controlled by the exercise to get in for the surgery. I have been mostly pain free for about 15 years now, even riding my bicycle if I do the correct exercises I have no tingles.

    My Dr calls me the poster child for physical therapy.

    IF you will not have damage from it, and want to try, PT sometimes works wonders, there is pain from it too, but probably not as much just over a longer period. This has been real important on the shoulders. I do not want to need help dressing, and bathroom.

    Rod
    #14
  15. syaufu

    syaufu Been here awhile

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    I have a fused neck..C 7-8 ..4 lower back procedures..happen to be a physician ..did London to Beijing 1 yr ago..just got off my dirt bike..It is easy for Drs to tell you not to do something..much more difficult to tell you why not other than it is the Drs. opinion..have the Dr. show you the studies that show that riding a motorcycle harms your fusion..oh by the way..I go heli-skiing also..do what you can..stay in good physical shape..no smokes and drink like you mean it..bj:freaky
    #15
  16. woody's wheel works

    woody's wheel works Built to Last

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    i feel your pain,,,i'll do a rideabout,,,and take good care of ya ,,a green tinney or a darwin stubby will do the trick,,:wink:
    lordy ,,i take care of more than a handful of you rascals..
    :freaky
    woody
    #16
  17. kvr929rr

    kvr929rr Been here awhile

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    Had a C6-7 fusion last year complete with a Titanium plate that matches my wedding ring and CBR1000RR exhaust courtesy of some blithering asshole who wasn't paying attention at 90 mph on the freeway. I was in my truck with a big orange trailer too. I'm planning on the Continental Divide or a Cross-Country trip this year but I haven't decided on which bike, GSA or K12S as well as trackdays.

    As I understand it your fusion would limit your ability to move your head up and down but rotation is done by the C1+2, so you should be able to look side to side after your recovery. In any event, I would have the minimum possible surgery you can get away with and work hard at your recovery. Rehabilitate the muscles the best you can. After that see how you feel and make the decision on whether you're going to get rid of the bike or not. Just be smart and honest with yourself about your capabilities. Many doctors forget that they are a support group for life and not a reason for it. And they are often wrong about what is possible. They most often speak in generalities biased towards the unmotivated end of the spectrum. You may not be typical. He sounds like a mechanic saying don't rev your M3 past 4000 rpm or go beyond 3rd gear. Yeah, sure.
    #17
  18. Beebop

    Beebop Adventurer

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    I have my back fused L3-L4-L5-S1, and a prosthetic disc.
    I gave up my R11S for a GSA, doc was quite happy with that
    choice, and I have zero issues for the past 4 years.
    #18
  19. messner2

    messner2 Adventurer

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    I have a 3 level spinal fusion, completed a 3 week 8,000klm trip last year. 80% of the trip was on bad dirt roads. Stay focused do what the doctors and physio's say and you can't go wrong. Do the rehab and you can ride for ever. I even managed to pick up my fully loaded 12OOGS last year.

    cheers

    Messner
    #19
  20. bingbong

    bingbong Long timer

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    Jeepers you guys are making me feel like a lucky "B" and a bit of a whiner. 2 years ago I had my second lower disk operation and have suffered good days and bad. Lately I have been feeling a bit hard done by. But I continue to ride and have never missed a days work because of my back even straight after the operations. (I'm an aircraft engineer) and now I have read about what you guys have been through and continue to I feel like a lucky youngster :rofl
    When being lined up for my first op I said to the surgeon that the only hard thing about all this was giving up motorcycling and sport, mainly motorcycling. Why are you giving them up? He said. Well..... You know, all this hospital stuff etc. No, bollocks to that he said, if it hurts stop otherwise have fun. What a great guy. Needless to say hell get any repeat business if needed. But I'm not planning on going back.
    It sure helps to know others have been through these problems and have come out the other side so positively. So we are all cheering for ya. :1drink
    #20