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Rerider Falls Off & "Breaks Butt" - Needs Advice

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  • Rerider Falls Off & "Breaks Butt" - Needs Advice

    I'm a rerider in my 50's and just started taking lessons again. Was doing pretty well too (at least I could post, steer and trot over an X).

    Well, about 4 weeks ago I got thrown up the horses neck over the fence. Clinging for dear life and doing the inevitable sideways slide all the while yelling "Stop, Whoa, Stop" in the poor horse's ears (which only scared her and made her go faster) I finally dove into the dirt. I landed on my side, hip first, though I got a face full of arena sand.

    Anyway, I have a small fracture in my sacrum, a "bone bruise" to the tailbone, a torn groin muscle and pulled ligaments that have something to do with the sacrum.

    I am still in pain esp when walking, sitting, lying down. Pretty much all the time. My doctor claims that she has done all that she can and just prescribed more Vicodin. I'm trying to get on with my life and get back to work (sitting 8 hours is KILLING me).

    Anyone suffered pelvic injuries and can impart some hints on how to heal up and minimize the pain?

  • #2
    I feel (and have felt) your pain ....

    The hip / pelvis injuries are hard to deal with. Those core muscles come into play with just about every move you make. What I have done (and still do, post the femur / trochanter fracture from last November) is:

    -light exercise through out the day. Being in one position for any length of time causes everything to lock up. I do gentle stretching / bending / leg lift exercises several times a day and change positions regularly.

    -plan the taking of pain meds for max benefit when most needed -- just before bed, just before an unavoidable activity that will cause pain.

    -a little zen meditation to calm the mind and focus on something other than the pain. Hard to do -- that pain becomes the center of your universe, especially at night -- but worth the effort when it results in calming the angst.

    At 4 weeks post injury, you are still in the major healing stage. Things will start to improve at the 6-8 week mark. Honest .... it really does get better.

    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


    • #3
      Try one of those "doughnut" cushions that are designed for people with hemarrhoids. That will enable you to sit without putting more pressure on your tailbone.

      I empathize--I broke mine several years ago and it HURT!
      Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


      • #4
        ouch! I had a very similar injury, and I know it is very painful! Ask your dr. to perscribe some PT. The stretching exercises were really helpful for loosening muscles up so every movement doesn't hurt. The most helpful one was simply sitting in a chair and reaching for the floor and holding for 10 seconds or so (repeat a few times). I had a back spasm or something, too, but I bet it would still help. There are lots more stretches that they can offer you, tailored to your specific injury. Also, are you doing heat for 20 minutes and then ice for 20 minutes?

        Are you using a little donut pillow at work? I still wish I was using one on long drives, over a year later. At the 6-8 week mark it will start to improve, but it may take more like 6 months before it doesn't bother you too much.


        • #5
          *ICE * ICE * ICE * ICE * ICE ~~ Never under estimate to POWER & importance of ICE during recovery !!!! Get some hospital level ice packs ~ that you simply refill -- they do not leak - get a several so that a "READY" one is always in freezer ready to go - any time in a stationary position - yes !!even at work -- use an ice bag. * Get an extra one for work -- place them in a large zip-lock bags that stay in the freezer locations as not to spread germs... IMHO
          Last edited by Zu Zu; Aug. 11, 2009, 12:18 PM. Reason: spelling
          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


          • #6
            Ditto on the PT. And then even when you think you're healed, continue to do them, at least a couple times a week. They'll help with stability.


            • #7
              Cranio-sacral therapy

              My injury history: I got launched off a horse and hurt my sacrum/pelvis over 20 years ago. ( I didn't go to the hospital because they just hurt you worse and send you home, so I don't know whether there was a fracture or anything. I can't tell you how many times doctors have said "It's muscle spasms, here's a perscription," and sent me on my way, when going to a chiropractor would have helped the problem rather than just treat the symptoms.)

              I now know that my pelvis got twisted and tilted when I landed. I lived with it for years, in constant pain, before I went to a physical therapist who realigned it. It went right back out due to uneven muscle development. More PT to even out the muscling along with frequent realignments during my first pregnancy. Then I had a C-section, which weakened things further.

              Help from a different direction: I recently started going to a doctor who does cranio-sacral therapy (also, osteopathy). I'm impressed. Not only did he figure out why my hip still causes pain, but he's helped me strengthen my core to support it better. The persistent misalignment causes problems elsewhere, and now it makes so much sense. I've also racked up quite a few injuries over the years, which he found without my having to tell him.

              In addition, I have a client who is a physical therapist specializing in chronic pain. He thinks differently than most PT's. He showed me how to realign my pelvis myself, and now I can fix it any time I feel it is out (several times a day). First I went to the chiropractor to find out which direction it is twisted.

              Because of these three people, I now have less pain than I've had for the past 20 years. I'm 45.

              I will say that no one professional held all the answers for me. I pieced together information from several sources and can now maintain myself much better. I see the cranio-sacral doctor regularly, because other things still get out of alignment and need help. He's adjusted my knees, my feet, my arms, and my ribs. When as central a structure as your SI gets damaged, problems show up elsewhere. The right people can help you learn to help yourself.

              Since you've got soft tissue complications, you've got to go carefully. In my case, I didn't seek treatment for 5 or six years, so soft tissue damage was not an issue. But there are people out there who can help if you look for them hard enough.

              Riding: I doubt you are even thinking of riding at this point. However, to keep this horse related and to give you hope, there are saddles that can help those of us with SI problems. I can no longer ride in an English saddle because my right leg goes numb after about 20 minutes. I do well in a saddle with a western tree (endurance model) that has a fender to support the weight of my leg. I use dog collars to turn the stirrups so there is no torque on the knee. Last year I bought a Bob Marshall Sport Saddle (treeless), and it is the best option yet. The stirrups attach low, so I no longer have trouble with the right leg sliding forward when the hip fatigues. I feel more secure in the saddle now than I have in years.
              Last edited by matryoshka; Aug. 11, 2009, 06:45 PM.
              "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the info.

                Husband had said heat but that does nothing. Guess he's basing that on his experience with college football injuries - first ice, then later on heat.

                I'm going to hunt down a medical supply company and get a donut seat and ice packs later today.

                At this point - 4 weeks out - does "working through the pain" such as sitting at work for 8 hours or walking around (which is when the torn groin muscle really acts up) cause any problems to healing? I'm wondering if I am slowing recovery by trying to get back to as normal a schedule as possible.

                What pisses me off is that my 20 something daughter would have either landed on her feet or jumped right back on. I slide off the side and have been couch bound for weeks.


                • #9
                  Jingles for you ---Time and Ice and PT and Patience ~if you feel you may be slowing down your recovery rate - try backing off your normal routine for awhile -- your body is trying to tell you something. Good Luck - keep us updated.
                  Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ProzacPuppy View Post
                    TWhat pisses me off is that my 20 something daughter would have either landed on her feet or jumped right back on. I slide off the side and have been couch bound for weeks.
                    No, she wouldn't. I was 20 something when I hurt my SI. I couldn't sit comfortably for 6 weeks. Didn't sleep much, either. No position is comfortable.

                    It gets better, though, especially if you have somebody check your alignment once your soft tissue injuries are healed better.
                    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                    • #11
                      Definitely get thee a donut pillow or two. They come in at least three different styles, full donut, 3/4 donut, and wedge donut (thicker in the back). Try them all at the store. A friend broke her tail bone at eventing camp and the full donut the hospital gave her was useless for her pain. She, however, lived on the wedge donut which angled her a bit forward for over 6 months.


                      • #12
                        I was told the opposite. Heat to increase blood flow for healing, then ice to reduce inflammation.


                        • Original Poster

                          The thing about daughter doing the same thing would be that she has such balance, strength and flexibility that she would undoubtedly land on her feet and THEN fall to her butt. I've seen her take dives off of a number of horses over the years (as well as watching her peers who also seem invincible at 20).

                          Probably doesn't help that I've already got osteoporosis in both hips (bone scan).

                          I keep wondering when I'll feel comfortable enough to get back on the horse. And whether this fall will make me even more nervous about falling. Before this I was pretty worried about falling.

                          I feel bad for the horse. My yelling and falling upset her quite a bit. She is one of those horses that comes to the fallen rider and stands over them with the occasional nose nudge.


                          • #14

                            The idea behind ice is that at first it helps keep down inflammation, and when it is removed, the bloodflow is increased for a long while.

                            Also, the cranio-sacral guy advised me to use DMSO (I have the roll-on for my horses) on my elbow. I've had a lot of trouble with my right elbow this year, inflammation, reduced range of motion, etc. Believe it or not, it is related to the pelvis problem. He suggested I apply DMSO to it twice a day, and it really helped. I try to avoid pain killers unless I can't sleep or get nauseated from pain. DMSO has helped.
                            Last edited by matryoshka; Aug. 11, 2009, 06:45 PM.
                            "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                            • #15
                              You might also consider getting a second opinion- just because one doctor says she can't do anything for you does not mean there is nothing to be done.

                              I was at Kaiser when I broke my back and was told the same thing. Turns out they had completely misdiagnosed it.

                              So, just a thought. A pain management doctor might be another idea, maybe there is more to be done about the pain (tens?) while you're healing. This along with what everyone else has said (physical therapy, ice, heat, etc).

                              By the way, I think sitting is very stressful on your low back, and maybe slowing the healing process. Make sure you have a very supportive chair!


                              • #16
                                I was invincible in my 20's, or so I thought. Now I've got issues as a result of some of those falls I just shrugged off back then.

                                The fall that hurt my SI caused me to lose my nerve. It was really hard to get back to riding. It didn't help that the trainer insisted I get back on the horse so he wouldn't think he'd done anything wrong. I had gone from lying there, unable to feel my legs, to feeling like my lower body was on fire, to sitting in the saddle feeling like there were knives in my hips and back. That's when the fear set in. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

                                Once I could sit more comfortably, I started riding again on a "confidence builder". The instructor neglected to tell me he was a greenie and she was using me to train him. He fell on a jump with me, but I was able to step off when my stirrup touched the ground. That helped not at all. I kept riding but couldn't shake the fear.

                                What helped was finding a good instructor who was willing to work with my fear issues rather than just ignoring them. It turns out she teaches Centered Riding--it was something both the horse and I needed. It is a program that is very conscious of our body issues. It really helped me. I ended up retiring that horse young (the one who hurt me) because he'd spook sideways unpredictably with no warning, and he wouldn't stop until he'd run himself out. I decided he was dangerous to ride. Unfortunately, my intense fear stayed until I got to ride more horses who didn't have such issues. Steady-Eddy horses worked wonders.

                                Once I switched to a western-treed saddle, my confidence increased further with that leg fully supported. I had a synthetic model that you kind of stick to. Felt more secure than I had in years.
                                "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                                • #17
                                  Ditto the second opinion. A friend was diagnosed by Kaiser with a "fractured tail bone" that was really a fractured back -- uh, kinda big difference. Only found it after she begged and pleaded for an MRI after weeks and weeks of painkillers and PT.

                                  Also second the cranio-sacral therapist mentioned above. (I'm also in Maryland, so maybe we go to the same one?) They have many more tools in their toolbox beyond painkillers and toughing it out.

                                  Sorry. Sucks, I'm sure . . .


                                  • #18

                                    Great advice here - so I am just going to add - the sad truth is, we are no longer 20. Be gentle with yourself. This happened - it's not like you really had the wherewithal to analyze the situation.

                                    Soft tissue injuries can take much longer than fractures to heal. And it's difficult to give the pelvic region a "rest" when you need your core for just about everything.

                                    Here's hoping you feel much better soon!
                                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I'm sure I will eventually get back to riding and my horse is a saint. She put up with my bad balance, hanging on her mouth, bouncing on her back etc. One of the things I had/have the most trouble with as a rerider is balance while on the horse.

                                      I just wish that I'd fallen off my 15 h TB rather than my 16.3 h WB. Daughter has been offered a free 14.1 h Arab. She likes to joke that I can just put my feet down if I start to tip over on the Arab.

                                      Not only is daughter fearless but has been riding for 22 years - at least 2 horses a day for most of those years and recently up to 10 horses a day. She's had just about everything that can happen to a rider happen to her. Of course she's mid-20s and has upper back pain, lower back pain, knee pain.


                                      • #20
                                        get thee to a physio therapist so you don't end up like matryoshka!
                                        I went 3 times a week for the first month after a very serious pelvic/sacral injury. I also swam with a float board in a special warm therapy pool on a daily basis for the 4 months after I got mobile, as prescribed by the PT. She did ultrasound and electrostimulation which signficantly reduced pain and increased mobility and kept my sacroliliabc ligaments from freezing with scar tissue. She had me icing 2 or 3 times a day and whenever the pain was bad. I used a large exercise ball at work instead of a chair because I could keep moving position and that also reduced the pain. Good luck and happy trails.
                                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF