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Broken vertebrae

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  • Broken vertebrae

    I got bucked off my new fancy horse and broke the transverse (sp) process of L1 through L3 and fractured L4 and L5. I was pretty drugged the first week and was told to do nothing. I am now progressing into week three post injury and going nuts. I know I can't ride, but I want to, I can walk and drive short distances as long as I am not taking meds. Has anyone had a similiar injury and what can I expect. The doctor hasn't given me any indication of what to expect, I don't go back for another appointment until the first week of December and have not been able to find any information on the internet.

  • #2
    Calling Whicker

    I have no clue, but Whicker might be able to help out. She's broken some vertebrae. I wish I could offer some help, but I have no knowledge in this area. Best of luck!


    • #3
      No ideas, but I hope you're feeling better soon.

      I'm right there with you on going crazy from not being able to do anything.


      • #4
        You rang?

        Hi Akstaj,

        You are fortunate that someone figured out how badly you were hurt. Drugs, MMMmm!

        My drs didn't think I was hurt enough to even do x-rays. It wasn't diagnosed for 6 months, so some of my vertebrae are in novel positions.

        Are you in a body cast? Can you move about? If your vertbrae stayed in the original locations, and your discs didn't smush much and your spinal cord is ok, you should be able to do quite a lot of riding once you heal without major pain.

        But, you do have to give yourself time to heal, which is mentally extremely frustrating, boring and a major annoyance. How polite can I be about it?! I hated being stuck on the bed on a good riding day.

        I could think I was FINE, then try to get up and walk to the barn, and fall or stumble and have no balance. I couldn't lift any thing that weighed more than a pound, to start.

        There are things you can do now, if your physical therapist agrees. you can start doing core exercises with a pressure cuff to teach your nerves and muscles the right responses again. These are tiny exercises that are almost a mental isometric move. you learn to isolate and turn on different muscle groups. I learned that when a part of the body gets hurt, the nerves will shut down until they get stimulated to turn on again. That's why you can see sometimes atrophy. Another way my PT showed me the response was with a little electrode patch that picked up the muscle effort and showed it on a small gieger counter that beeped and flashed different color lights. You can do the exercises many times a day, since you are just priming the nerves and there is no weight involved.

        If you feel up to reading, "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind", is the sports pyschology book that has been my bible for coming back. There are sections on dealing with injury and recovery that I used so often that I kept it by my bed.

        You are welcome to pm me if you would like more thoughts and tlc. I was told to stay off the horses for about 6 months, but there were specific moves that I had to accomplish in order to be able to mount and ride. I had goals to achieve instead of an arbitrary date that someone else set. That goal setting was key for me to take control and use the time in a productive way. It also helped me be less angry at my situation and nasty in lashing out at those around me. (Can't afford to alienate anyone when they are critical for survival..)

        The most cheerfully useful thing was that I was told that I should not be the one to do the chores that I hated anyway; sweeping, mopping, washing dishes and putting them in the dishwasher,(I broke some before my family caught on), laundry and cleaning the bathrooms. I also couldn't deal with water pails or mucking, driving the tractor and mowing the lawn and fields. Therefore, more time to ride...
        Intermediate Riding Skills


        • #5
          Something I can answer!
          6 years ago I was bucked off a horse and broke the lateral processes on L1 to L5. I also broke 3 ribs and punctured a lung.
          I was in hospital for 2 weeks, mostly because of the lung thing. I had a corset type cast that I used only for walking around. When I first got injured I was told to do nothing other than walk for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks I started PT, which lasted for 9 months. I had some major tightness in my lower back, and had to completely rebuild my core muscles. Injury occured in mid-August, I rode at a walk early Jan.
          Now 6 years later, I have sometimes tightness in my lower back, and have developped some arthritis in my hips, because my gait has changed somewhat. I ride but my riding has definitely suffered, I have less strength on my left side. It took a long time before I could canter properly.
          I ride still but don't enjoy it as much as I did before the accident. I drive now for the most part. I still like to go for a nice quiet trail ride and the occasionnal dressage/ring schooling to get some different work done.

          Take your time, don't rush, you'll heal that much better. Hope my story didn't discourage you too much. I cried a lot, feeling sorry for myself, but my outlook is much brighter now. I can still "do" dressage, albeit from behind the horse and not on him.
          Again: don't rush.


          • Original Poster


            Thank you so much, I feel much better. I think I was lucky because I called a friend who is chief of surgery at the hospital and asked what Dr was at the er, I ride with his daughter. I think he called and explained how serious the fall could be, which is why when the x ray didn't show anything he did the cat scan. The spine is fine. However, they do not think the bones will re-attach so not sure what the outcome will be.

            I have a removable brace that I am to wear when I walk. They are calling the injury stable breaks.

            I will get the book. I have a great support group, horsie and non-horses but it is still hard.

            My wonderful boyfriend has been driving me to the barn to watch the trainer ride my new horse. That has help.

            I think my biggest issue right now is the unknown, the doctor would not tell me anything. I go back the first week of December and really want to demand a plan.

            I will be in touch Whicker. I have also realized how serious I am hurt, but also so very very very lucky.

            Thank you, Angela


            • #7
              I broke T 6, 7, 8 when a horse tripped and fell on me. T 7 was crushed, but did not harm my spinal cord. I was 14 and stir crazy. It was a horse I had been riding all summer and my parents had agreed to buy after soo much begging. I knew after basicly no activity, I would be so out of shape I wouldnt be able to ride when I was healed. As soon as possible, I started swimming in a heated pool. I thought I would walk laps, but it hurt, so I just swam any way that didnt hurt. Then I did deep water arobics. Then moved to to shallow water arobics. Just moving around and stretching my body felt so great. As long as I keep my core strong, I am pain free! Including riding! I did notice little things with my legs hurting, while riding, that never had hurt before. Good luck, its a long road. PM me if you would like.
              For a moment there, you bored me to death


              • #8
                Time to research!

                I am sending you a pm. It is about stem cell spine work.
                Intermediate Riding Skills


                • #9
                  5 and 1/2 years ago, I got bucked off of my horse after landing a jump and hit the ground wrong- ended up I had burst fractures of T10 and T12. I spent 6 months in a plastic body cast going nuts because I wasn't supposed to be doing anything. before the accident I was riding several horses everyday and teaching lessons as well as being an avid hiker, backpacker and kayaker. IT SUCKED to have to sit. A month after I got the cast off I was back on a horse- no I wasn't supposed to be, but I did it anyway- but only on my steddy eddy mare until I was actually allowed to be back on.
                  Fast forward to now- I occassionally have issues with my back/ hips because of the accident, but the majority of it I have controlled by exercise. Please feel free to PM me if you would like
                  "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                  So you might as well have a good time"


                  • #10
                    Sorry to hear about your injury. I, too, am a member of the broken back club. I came off a horse Sept '07 and shattered my L1. Was very lucky, no spinal cord damage. Was in the hospital for 2 weeks (with a morphine pump and the whole nine yards), stuck at home for another month after that. Had to wear a back brace 24/7 for 2 months and when I was awake for another month. It sucked... I couldn't do anything. Had to move my horses back to a boarding barn because hubby couldn't take care of me, our dogs, the house and the horses by himself. I missed a whole month of work then had to go back part time for two more months... luckily the economy was better then and I have a good boss!

                    I moved the horses back home in April '08 and got back in the saddle in June '08. It was that long (9 mos.) before I felt remotely up to riding. I still have a lot of emotional baggage from my accident (I'm a total weenie now) but physically, I'm OK. I can't lift heavy things anymore and my neurosurgeon says I probably never will be able to lift what I once did. That's sort of a PIA, I have to have hubby move hay, etc. for me and I try not to lift feed bags because that is right at the edge of my comfort zone... I'll hurt for a few days afterwards.

                    I think it really depends on the type of fracture you have as far as recovery time. As I understood it, mine was pretty bad... sounds like maybe yours isn't quite that bad. I couldn't even *think* about riding for months. Honestly, I took the pain pills and slept as much as possible at first just to make time go by. I read a ton of books too, just to escape my crappy reality for a while!

                    Best of luck, take your time and don't rush things, OK? Your horse will still be there when you get better, and if you have your trainer ride him in the meantime, he'll be even nicer.


                    • #11
                      My trainer recently fractured T11. She was in the hospital for a few days, then a week or two of very limited activity. Four to six weeks of no riding. She had a corset type brace to wear, and lots of meds. She is now slowly getting back to riding, and trotted one little x yesterday.
                      It's 2018. Do you know where your old horse is?

                      www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


                      • Original Poster

                        You guys have been great, I realize how lucky I am. I am sure I will be pming some you after the next dr appt in two weeks. My wonderful boyfriend took me to the back so I could watch the trainer ride the horse responsible for the accident. I will be honest I can't wait to ride him. He is so cool. Although, I will start riding my mare the I trust before I get on the big guy again.

                        Thanks, Angela


                        • #13
                          As a ten year old, trying some gymnastic moves on a concrete floor and crashing, I broke one rib and T3 and T4.
                          I didn't "fess up", but barely walked around gingerly, hurting very bad and barely able to breathe for a few days, then caught a cold and coughing did me in.
                          The Dr x-rayed me to check the lungs and saw the broken rib and vertebrae.
                          I had to wear a stiff corset for several weeks, along with spending some time in bed.

                          Everything healed fine in time and I was back on the gymnastic team.

                          Don't think your outcome may be bad, because everyone's break is a case in itself.
                          I hope that you can heal on your own, without surgery to pin everything back in place, so be patient with going easy at first.

                          Moral of my story, don't catch a cold.


                          • Original Poster

                            Went to the doc today, kinda what I expected, took xrays, nothing shifted, a little less than half there is what he said. Another 5 to 7 weeks of doing nothing. It could be worse.


                            • #15
                              DH just fractured processes on five vertabrae due to being dumped on his head off his mare 9 days ago. All stable fractures, no spinal column danger, and after a week of basically staying asleep in bed he has "recovered" amazingly and is pretty much off pain meds and doing all normal non-athletic activities (computer work, washing dishes, puttering around the house, etc.) But he is re-introducing walking slowly (about 100 yards 2x a day), and won't ride for another 6 weeks, probably, to let the bone and ligaments heal completely. The risk is you don't want to have to catch your balance in a sudden movement, or suddenly have to take a heavy weight against your arms (say horse pulls or spooks or stumbles), as that will re-tear any ligaments that were damaged, and possibly re-fracture half-healed bone.

                              I suggest arts and crafts projects, or starting a blog, as a way to be involved in something to keep you busy while you wait for your body to heal! Or do some really complicated holiday planning, such as hosting a party or making handmade cards or something.


                              • #16
                                I had a horse flip over on and lans square on me when I was a teenager. Luckily I was riding bareback and didn't have the horn of a western saddle driven into my chest but unluckily I had a phenomenal seat and we were going uphill so when he came crashing back he really squished me. Geesh, just writing that makes me realize how lucky I am not to have been permanently crippled. I declined the ambulance ride, ignored the pain and seemed fine - except that over the years my body apparently has molded itself around that injury. I have chronic back pain centering right in the area where the injury occurred but it has affected my whole body because it changed the way I moved. I'm a bit twisted and much stronger one one side than the other. I couldn't ever be a dressage rider. I don't think that is all due to the back injury but that has certainly contributed. I didn't even know about the cracked vertebra until about 8 years ago when a chiro finally sent me for a x-ray and saw where the non-displaced break had healed. My back feels like I'm missing a vertebra in that spot and I always feel like I have a cramp there.

                                Moral of the story - do exactly what the doctor and PT says to do!! It's hard to be inactive but in the long run it isn't worth it to suffer later on.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by akstaj View Post
                                  Went to the doc today, kinda what I expected, took xrays, nothing shifted, a little less than half there is what he said. Another 5 to 7 weeks of doing nothing. It could be worse.

                                  Yeah - stall rest sucks.

                                  I'm nursing yet another herniated disc. Broke my back a while ago, also had back surgery.

                                  Stall rest sucks - and that is how I learned to do crochet. I admit some of my first projects looked a little odd - I blame the Vicoden.

                                  You'll be fine. It's winter, you're on stall rest, it's dark out, it's all just too awful.

                                  But you'll be better soon, the days will get longer, and you'll be back in the saddle soon. Really.

                                  Keep your chin up - and keep a ready supply of yarn and crochet hooks.
                                  Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                  Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                  -Rudyard Kipling


                                  • #18
                                    Jingles, Please

                                    Hi Ladies,
                                    I have been off line for 2 weeks.

                                    My wonderful DH had a stem cell procedure to regenerate 2 discs. Things were going great, until he fell. One of the discs EXPLODED. The other one is ok. He has had 2 surgeries in one week, the 1st emergency one to clean up the debris field from the disc. There was a crater where the disc had been. The second is a fusion. He is in a super specialty hospital with a great spinal neuro-surgeon. He is lucky that we have the contacts to get him into surgery quickly as he could have been paralysed from the trauma to the nerves.

                                    i am also lucky that we have a wonderful daughter who dropped everything and flew home to stay with him at the hospital and spell me to get the rest of the chaos under control.

                                    I also have been dealing with an elderly arab that has been very sick and having seizures and bringing back some horses who were close to foundering. I don't have anyone who is competent enough to do that part of the care. I do have help with the mucking.

                                    I am whining, so a few "Poor Baby"s and some hugs would help. Oh, I broke a tooth in half during the first surgery. Nothing like a little stress! But I am FINE! Arghhh!
                                    Intermediate Riding Skills


                                    • #19
                                      PM sent.
                                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                      -Rudyard Kipling


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by akstaj View Post
                                        I got bucked off my new fancy horse and broke the transverse (sp) process of L1 through L3 and fractured L4 and L5. I was pretty drugged the first week and was told to do nothing. I am now progressing into week three post injury and going nuts. I know I can't ride, but I want to, I can walk and drive short distances as long as I am not taking meds. Has anyone had a similiar injury and what can I expect. The doctor hasn't given me any indication of what to expect, I don't go back for another appointment until the first week of December and have not been able to find any information on the internet.
                                        good friend of mine just had the same situation; fractured a bunch of them in her neck. Horse fell and landed on her. she wa sout for a few minutes until a family friend who came to visit discovered her laying in the yard with her TB looking over her.

                                        She is OK, but also cant ride or drive long distances. shes going stir crazy