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Any ortho docs want to comment the likelihood of riding a 25...

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  • Any ortho docs want to comment the likelihood of riding a 25...

    3 months after a 2 level fusion with hardware including an iliac bolt into my pelvis?

    I go in for surgery in 6 days. I'd like to give myself something to look forward to/strive for, that being a slow LD on 6/6. I called to ask my surgeon but he's in Europe performing surgery. Will be back next week. Don't want to ask bedside before I go in because my husband will have a FIT.

    I know it sounds like it's not doable, but if I am fairly stable, barring the "what if you get bucked off" scenario, and I feel up to it (which I may not!), just curious what my chances are. My ortho said I could start PT at 3 months, so was thinking 25 miles of an ab workout from the back of a horse would be good PT

  • #2
    I don't know anything about an iliac bolt and how that would figure into your recovery but can tell you that after I had a fusion (L4toL5) about 10 years ago, I was in a brace for 3 months and instructed not to bend, twist or lift anymore than 5 or 10 lbs during that period. When the brace came off I started riding again but found that my core muscles had completely disappeared, my balance was a mess and I doubled bounced like a beginner when trying to post. Thank god I had a saint of a patient horse and in a few months I was back in decent shape. So, to answer your question, I think "no" you won't be ready. But set another goal for a bit later down the road - goals are good if they are somewhat realistic!


    • #3
      Not a doc, but a friend had a compression fracture of L1 and spent 3 months in a clamshell. When she went back to riding she found her core strength was zero but what really did her in was fatigue. She'd spent the past 3 months being good and following the directions but a full day at work was enough to really wipe her out, and riding after work was sort of a joke. It took several months after the brace came off for her to feel like herself again.


      • #4
        I'm not a doc, but I did work for an orthopaedic group that included a spine surgeon, and I have had two levels fused myself (L5-S1 in 2001, L4-L5 in 2004).

        With that said, it took me about 6 months after each single-level fusion to feel normal again. I did not get back on a horse for about 8 months post op. I did not wear a brace after either surgery, but the posters above that stated you will have ZERO core muscles after this surgery... They're absolutely correct.

        This is a surgery where if you do not listen to your docs, and follow their instructions to the letter, you could potentially end up worse off than you are right now; especially if you start doing physical activity before you're cleared by your doc (for said activity). And if you do fall off, whether it's bucked off, or just falling from lack of muscle to stay balanced on your horse...

        Let's just say you really have to weigh the risk vs. benefit of riding. At 3 months, the risk is extremely high and the benefit is slim.

        When the doc says you can start PT at 3 months - You will be surprised at how little you'll be able to do at first. I was allowed to walk at first - THAT'S IT.

        A 25 mile ride - Yes, eventually. But not 3 months post op. Set smaller, realistic goals. At 3 months post op, I attempted to curry my horse and found after a few minutes, my back muscles were in such spasm I ended up in bed for the next week.

        Best wishes for your upcoming surgery & recovery. Sorry if I came across as blunt or harsh - but I am dealing with a possible third fusion due to possible herniated disc and/or a screw that migrated and is rubbing on the nerve root above the fusion. Waiting for a CT myelogram at the moment to see what's going on & dealing with the frustration that is the health insurance industry.

        If you need a listening ear, feel free to PM anytime. Again, best wishes.



        • Original Poster

          Ok, you guys were right...

          I'm one week post-op and actually feel pretty good....but I was told by the surgeon in no uncertain terms that a 3 month ride was out.

          He did say I could do a ride at 6 months though!!

          **FYI- If anyone ever has questions, concerns about spinal fusion and hardware, I'd be happy to discuss my procedure**


          • #6
            I'm glad you came out OK. I have to admit that I chuckled when I read the OP, although it's true I had an unusual set of problems. I had a spondlylolisthesis at L5-S1 that had kind of munched my disc over time and was causing pain, and I also had a perineural cyst that was taking up most of the upper half my sacral canal; when I progressed to burning down the backs of both legs and intermittent bladder problems (we're all about TMI on CoTH, right? ), they admitted me to the hospital and did surgery a few days later. That was July 12; it has been a loooong road for me, with more pain after surgery than even the surgeon was expecting (they sure as heck didn't warn me that fusions hurt like a mother canoer!) and a setback several months out. At the advice of my pain management doctor, I am still on a constant but low dose of hydrocodone and a high dose of gabapentin. It has been very frustrating at times, since I had great surgeons and I followed their instructions to the letter, but sometimes our biology conspires against us. Still, things are looking up: just last week, I got on a horse for the first time in 9 months!

            BTW, I am not a tattoo person, but I have matching 6+" scars front and back as well as an ankle surgery scar and laparoscopy slits, and I like to joke that my first tattoo will say "no user serviceable parts inside."
            The plural of anecdote is not data.
            Eventing Yahoo In Training


            • #7
              Originally posted by GatoGordo View Post
              ...I like to joke that my first tattoo will say "no user serviceable parts inside."
              I had to laugh at that. We have a running joke in my family that I was a factory defect / irregular.

              OP, glad to hear you're feeling well!


              • #8
                I have a friend who did severe damage to her back after a fall from a horse. She had surgery with a lot of hardware (not sure what the exact procedure was) and was pretty much out of commission for ANYTHING for a few months. She did eventually get back to being able to ride as much as she wanted to, but to be on the safe side, she started wearing a Professionals Choice back brace and a Tipperary eventing vest. She has taken a few falls since the initial accident but hasn't had re-injury primarily due to the vest and brace. You may want to add some protective gear like that.

                I have had both my hips replaced and I have some moderate back issues. When I can finally start riding again, I'm planning to pad myself up with roller derby padded shorts with hip padding and tailbone padding and a padded eventing vest. Trying to be safe and protect my body, and it will also help my confidence level because I won't be as afraid of the "what if's" associated with routine riding.
                Horse'in around in Upstate NY


                • #9
                  Originally posted by GatoGordo View Post
                  with more pain after surgery than even the surgeon was expecting (they sure as heck didn't warn me that fusions hurt like a mother canoer!) and a setback several months out. At the advice of my pain management doctor, I am still on a constant but low dose of hydrocodone and a high dose of gabapentin.
                  Just want to say YMMV. I am six months post T10-S1 fusion (including spacers between the lumbar vertebra.

                  My fusion feels actually fine. I am dealing with some post surgical nerve compression but no pain meds and low dose of Lyrica (which I am not convinced does anything for me).

                  Clamshell has been off for about 3 weeks!! Yay!!!
                  You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something… S. Jobs


                  • Original Poster

                    Ok, so I totally thought *I* would be different and it wouldn't hurt as much as they were claiming. Hmmm.....very humbled (and drugged) at this point. LOL


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Where'sMyWhite View Post
                      Just want to say YMMV. I am six months post T10-S1 fusion (including spacers between the lumbar vertebra.

                      My fusion feels actually fine. I am dealing with some post surgical nerve compression but no pain meds and low dose of Lyrica (which I am not convinced does anything for me).

                      Clamshell has been off for about 3 weeks!! Yay!!!
                      Yes, YM Does V, I just got "lucky" and have had MORE pain than my surgeons expected. As for your procedure, wow! Glad you're doing OK and that you got the clamshell off. I am kind of claustrophobic and the idea of a clamshell, or even a cast on a limb, makes my skin crawl. Regarding Lyrica, they tried switching me to Lyrica after surgery but I found it didn't work as well as gabapentin for some reason, and I got the spontaneous muscle jerking that is supposed to be an uncommon side effect.
                      The plural of anecdote is not data.
                      Eventing Yahoo In Training


                      • Original Poster

                        What doses of gabapentin is everyone on? This seems to be one of my main struggles so far (nerve pain). Just curious what everyone is at? I'm at 900mg/day


                        • #13
                          I'm at 2700 mg/day. I increased the dose gradually over about a month from 600 mg. My pain management doc said that a lot of his patients have to be at at least 1800 mg/day to see maximum benefit.
                          The plural of anecdote is not data.
                          Eventing Yahoo In Training