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Old 02-14-2003, 07:06 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 2
shaffer HB User
Post How does a broken back heal?

I fell off my horse Nov 10,2002 and broke my back. I crushed my L1. I would like to know if there is anything I should or shouldn't do to make sure this heals properly and how it heals. I am only 28, I don't want to have a long-term problem if I can help it. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 02-14-2003, 07:30 AM   #2
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: South Texas
Posts: 32
ScarS HB User

More info needed! Did you have surgery? Are you still in pain? Come back with the rest of the story and let us know how you are doing.

Had posterior lumbar interbody fusion at L4/L5/S1 on Jan. 30,'01 with 6 pedicle screws, 2 Steffe plates, 4 Brantigan carbon fiber cages and my own hip graft for spondylolisthesis. Wear leg braces (afo's on both legs)for drop foot from nerve damage.
Had posterior lumbar interbody fusion at L4/L5/S1 on Jan. 30,'01 with 6 pedicle screws, 2 Steffe plates, 4 Brantigan carbon fiber cages and my own hip graft for spondylolisthesis. Wear leg braces (afo's on both legs)for drop foot from nerve damage.

Old 02-14-2003, 08:38 AM   #3
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Concord, CA, USA
Posts: 675
successtory HB User

Hi Shaffer and welcome

I used to show horses, train and ride all the time. I had to give up my horses after my injury....and I didn't break my back! You can see what I had, and it was nothing to do with horses. But because of this I had to go through and remember ALL my injuries (in my life)...funny thing....every single one of my injuries (except for the one that happened to my back) were done through horses!

We do need a little more information. When you say broken...was the disk completely crushed? If so...have you had it replaced or fused yet? If not, why? Your disks get ZERO blood to them. So there is no way to heal "quickly". In fact, it takes prolly 5 times longer to heal than any other body part (because there is no blood carrying oxygen to the bone-so it has to heal on it's own)...and every bend, twist, lift, sit, walk...EVERYTHING you do will put a mark against the healing time for your disk. It REALLY sucks big time. Personally, I gave up my horses (very hard to do after 27 years of owning and being around horses). But I have a 4 year old daughter and a 6 year old son and they are now the "loves of my life" (instead of horses). One shy from a horse...and it could be possible that I would not be able to walk for the rest of my life. I'm not willing to take that chance. But if you don't have a family of your own... you may decide to "sit it out" and try again after many months.

My suggestion to you is to find someone to take care of your horse until you can find a doctor to help you. Depending upon the severity of the break... there are many many options. Let us know more details. Take care!

Oct 2000: Repetitive Stress Injury-Inverted Hernia
Feb 2001: MRI. Shows only slight bulge at L4-L5
Dec 2001: Discogram/CT scan shows Inverted Hernia at L5-S1. L4-L5 & L5-S1 ruptured in all 4 quadrants. Unable to walk.
Feb 2002: IDET, Nucleoplasty, Intra-Discal Injections
Sept 2002: Rated in the top 10% for successful patients. Retraining for new career.

Old 02-14-2003, 09:48 AM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 2
shaffer HB User

I feel a little stupid asking because I am still able to walk and I know a lot of people are hurt a lot worse but I would like to know so when I turn 40 I won't be wishing I did something different.
My L1 was crushed, no operations, still some pain and sore. Specialist didn't look at my back. I don't know if he looked at the first and only X-ray.
Full story:
Fell off my horse Sunday around noon. Thought not too much off it since I could still move although I could not sit and in extreem pain so we went to the hospital. When there they put the back brace and took me out on a board. The doctor checked for movement and numbness there was none. He then took the board off and log rolled me to my side where he started checking my spine. About the middle of my back it hurt bad when he touched it. (The pain was all in my lower back) He took X-rays and came out and told us that he never saw a broken back before (he was a new doctor) but I had one and he called the specialist. The specialist told him that I could go home if I wanted but he recommended I stay in the hospital. It was a crushed L1. Bed rest and pain killers.

Half the nurses wanted to get me up and walking right away and the other half were telling me to only log roll. ??????? When they had me up I totally blacked out and lost consciouness so they left me alone after that. That was sunday.

On Thursday; (which was the soonest they could get me in to see the specialist) I was taken by ambulance to the main hospital about 1.5 hours away. I saw the X-rays in the ambulance. The bone was only about half the length of the rest and was sticking out (compressed). Neither the specialist nor the other doctor showed me the X-ray. The specialist gave me a brace to wear and told me that my body would tell me if I was doing too much. I asked him how healed or what I should do to help it heal right. He told me it just heals the same as a bone spur and the bone would grow toward the muscle.

The impression I was geting was that I should keep doing everything except no lifting and no sudden jerks. Although I did not want to do anything to hurt it more for the long-term. I checked the net for information and didn't want to post anything at the time because I was getting the impression that I mustn't be hurt too bad.

Anyway, I was sent home with the brace, told not to do any lifting or bending, and to take pain killers. He told me walking was good for it. So, I stayed in bed most of the time and tried to keep walking a little every day.

Dec 19, 2002 back in for a check up with the specialist
He asked me to walk. Asked how long I was walking like that I told him about a week or so. Then he told me injuries like that take about 8 to 10 weeks to heal. so if you can wear the brace for about another 2 weeks you should be fine. I asked about strenghtening the muscles up around and what exercises I could do he told me light exercises but no heavy cruches or squats. He didn't mention anything about physio.
I asked if he needed to take another x-ray he said only for my peace of mind and I didn't push for it.

Anybody around here is asking if I am in physio and saying that he should have recommended it. I just get feeling like I don't know what to do.

I saw a exercise trainer last night for some advice on how to properly start getting strengthened. He was stating that I should demand another X-ray and go to physio and he was worried about the long-term implications with nerve damage and bone chips.

I am able to work again now. Although I can not do what I used to in terms of physical actitity. Currently I my back is sore most of the time although not as painful as before and I have a heat pad when I am sitting down which helps dramatically.

I am confused as to what to do? Should I be worried? Is like everyone I don't want any long-term implications and would like to know what to do to avoid any long-term problems. I know the bone is about half the length it should be and is sticking out. I now can actually move more and don't have to lie down as much. I'm up about 8 to 10 hours (walking, sitting, standing) a day now. Before the accident I was used to being on the go from 5 am to 11 pm.

The only thing I am worried about is causing long-term damage. I don't want to be 35 and not able to look after myself or my animals. I would really like to know what to do or not do to facilitate the healing and limit the chance of further injury. Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Old 02-14-2003, 11:04 AM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: St Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 576
joprud HB User

Hi shaffer,

I also broke my back, fall on stairs, crushed T6 and T8, but this was back in 1963 when I was 8 yrs old. Of course back then they knew even less than they do now,so all the doc did was press on my back a little, said I'd be fine, no x-rays, sent me home. Then, 8mths later fall from bar swing approx. 2 1/2 ft. onto butt x-rays taken showed the old injury, they sent me for physio for a short time. I never had a problem after that until 1993, 30 yrs later. Apparently, the crushed discs healed into a wedge shape which caused the mild left convex scoliosis (curve) of the mid thoracic spine, which put strain on the rest of my spine, which accelerated the natural degeneration of the spine to where I am today. ( see signature) At least that's my understanding.

I wish I had some answers for you but I'm just starting to educate myself on all this stuff. But there are alot of knowledgeable people on these boards who I know will be along to answer your questions.

I guess all I'm trying to say by telling you my story is, ask, ask, ask, make sure they are doing everything in their power. Don't let them get away with doing nothing. I would so hate for you to be suffering needlessly down the road. It seems to me they should do more than just an x-ray.

Please keep us posted on how things go.

Take Care

------------------[list][*]Diagnosed DDD 1993[*]C4-C5 posterior osteophytic bar effacing ventral thecal sac Mild stenosis of neural foramina[*]C5-C6 posterior disc protrusion effacing v t s .Mild stenosis of neural foramina[*]C6-C7 posterior disc herniation effacing v t s . Mild stenosis of neural foramina[*]C7-T1 Small perineural cysts present in both neural foramina.[*]left convex scoliosis of mid thoracic spine. wedging of T7. wedging of T5 .degenerative end plate changes at T8-T9 [*]L4-L5 diffuse disc bulge effacing v t s. hypertrophy of facet joints, minimal central spinal stenosis. [*]L5-S1 posterior disc protrusion with associated tear of annulus fibrosis. hypertrophy of facet joints.[*]S1-S2 Perineural cysts involving S1-S2 nerve roots.[/list]

Old 02-14-2003, 03:42 PM   #6
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Concord, CA, USA
Posts: 675
successtory HB User

Hi Shaffer,

You are very smart being worried of the long-term effects of your broken back. As joprud mentioned, 'healing' can take place on it's own... but left to ourselves, there is a better chance of 'healing' temporarily and incorrectly. The stress on the disks around your damaged one will be suffering from the extra stress of when you "walk different", lay different and even (you might find) ride horses different. You need an MRI...NOT an x-ray. Once you know the extent of the 'real' damage, you can take corrective action.

My advice? Stick to your guns. Get a 2nd opinion and an MRI (I have a feeling the MRI will be very revealing). Also....YOU are the one that will be dealing with your back until the end--not the doctor. I am amazed every day when I see someone post about their doctors not believing they are in pain, or when doctors mis-diagnose and won't admit it, or when a doctor sends someone back to work waaaaay before they should even be considering it! Have you seen a Chiropractor or Osteopath? They are spine and bone specialists respectively. I wouldn't have any adjustments, but they are very knowledgeable and more apt to give out information than say your "normal" medical doctor.

Physical Therapy is a good idea if YOU are convinced you are ready for it. Keep asking questions...that is our ONLY defense in our medical world--where most professionals still can't give any definite answers, because they just "don't know". Remember too, your injury is dangerously close to your spinal chord. There are only 3 things doctors have no clue in fixing ... the brain ... the heart (they are much closer here now) ... and the spinal chord.

Good luck to you and I sure hope you get some answers soon. Take care of yourself. I will try to post some gentle strengthening (PT) exercises either later today or tomorrow. My schedule is closing in on me! But I promise I'll get something to you as soon as I can.

Oct 2000: Repetitive Stress Injury-Inverted Hernia
Feb 2001: MRI. Shows only slight bulge at L4-L5
Dec 2001: Discogram/CT scan shows Inverted Hernia at L5-S1. L4-L5 & L5-S1 ruptured in all 4 quadrants. Unable to walk.
Feb 2002: IDET, Nucleoplasty, Intra-Discal Injections
Sept 2002: Rated in the top 10% for successful patients. Retraining for new career.

Old 02-16-2003, 05:15 AM   #7
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sweden
Posts: 47
KrisL HB User

Hi shaffer

I can relate to your situation and worries.

I cracked my L1 in an sporting accident in May -02 and feel exactly the way you do.
I had a stable compressionfracture, plus a crack, but not serious enough to be admitted to hospital. Was told I´d be fine in 3 months.
Gave my orthopedic a hard time when it wasn´t and then she said "ehh..another six months", sort of out of the blue I felt.

I was worried for longterm complications and questioned a lot. My chart says I´m eager and push myselt too much.. But is it strange that you feel that way when suddenly tops 3 months turns into another 6 (=9)?

I´m ok with great help from PT and a new doctor. Still worried about the future (have my own business) and what to expect. I don´t want to end up as a "failed back" just because I didn´t get the right help in time.

I think you should see a new doctor (specialist) and get new MRI and CT. And how come they never told you what type of fracture you have? And never mentioned PT? Unbelievable..
Get doctors notice and go to a good PT (good to bring the results of the examinations too). They seem to know much more about recovering and they think ahead.
All the good exercises to strenghten your back you´ll get from them.

Be careful not to overdo it at first. Ofcourse activity is good but I was stupid enough (agains better advice..)to get back to my sport activities on top of my physically demanding job too soon..

If you are in the same situation I can really rekommend wetwest-training. It´s a good workout for muscles and heart without putting stress on the bones.

Now go hunt for a good doctor and PT, and keep us posted.
Take care,

May 2002 Compressionfracture and crack of L1
MRI shows only buldging disc and
stretched ligament.
June New sets of x-rays, shows no change.
Jan 2003 New doctor
New x-rays
Feb New CT tomorrow..
Seeing PT that specializes in water rehab

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