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Physical limitations following spinal fusion (lifetime)

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Old 12-25-2003, 04:28 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: St. Louis Missouri
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Ramsfan HB User
Physical limitations following spinal fusion (lifetime)

I am a 3 time surgery recipient. I had c3,4 and 5 fused back in 1994 and 95. I have always been extremely active in sports, landscaping and other physical activity. I know we have to change our lifestyle somewhat but to what degree. My sports activity ended completetly following my 1st surgery. I still did things like 4 wheeling, landscaping, bike riding carrying heavy items to name a few. Last week I had my 3rd surgery on c5,6 and 7. I know that once a surgery is performed that the "domino effect" is a possibility, and no doubt contributed to my need for the 3rd surgery. When I follow up with my doctor I will get more incites on my do's and don'ts but was wondering if anyone else out there has any experiences or recommendations of a post op lifestyle. I hate being limited to the life of a couch potato but also have the fear of eventually becoming a walking broomstick.

Thanks in advance,

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Old 12-25-2003, 06:43 PM   #2
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DonnaKay HB User
Re: Physical limitations following spinal fusion (lifetime)

Frank -

I've had two surgeries - one in 97 and one on November 6. I was so naive regarding the domino effect. I laughed at your description of a walking broomstick. I am shaking my head and smiling. You have to find humor or you'll go crazy. Btw, I have C4-5 and 5-6 fused and now am proud (lol) owner of a titanium plate.

When I went for my post-op on Dec. 19, I asked my doc about future lifetime limitations. He basically told me that you cannot stop living "just in case" you have another need for surgery. He told me that my weight lifting (just for toning, not for sport) could very well have contributed to my herniations, but he told me I also could have just simply sneezed wrong, or turned my head wrong to push the herniation into a symptomatic stage. I did a beach dive to seal the deal this time.

I was also counseled that maybe I should never do another beach dive, but to get into the water before putting on the equipment, and taking it off before I get out of the water. In other words, modify the way you would do the same stuff you would set limits on. He basically told me just don't do anything that will jerk my neck. Saying all this, I plan to totally respect my neck. For instance, if there is something heavy that needs lifting, I'll ask my husband or co-worker to do it. Sexist as it may sound, I'm sure this would be more difficult for a man.

I am wondering how many domino effects there can be? I have a herniation at 6-7 but it is not symptomatic. I also have other bulging disks. All cervical. Then, I wonder what is happening below the cervical disks!

Okay, I'm off topic, so I'll sign off.


Old 12-26-2003, 05:23 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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jodawa50 HB User
Re: Physical limitations following spinal fusion (lifetime)

Hey Frank, Donna, I too am the proud owner of a titanium plate and understand the most important thing for this area of fusion is to avoid doing anything overhead, as this exerts undue pressure on the remaining discs in the neck, and we don't want that now do we. Other than that limitations are an individual thing. I too was an athlete and am now happily feeding birds and making candles. Its a far cry from football and weights. Donna, yes it is harder for men as its like pulling teeth in order to get my wife to help with the heavy stuff. I finally had to refuse to do it (lift) before she got the idea. And yes we cannot stop living, yet we must not over do it. Just think of it this way. We slow down now and just think of how good we will be at it compared to our peers in old age.
Happy hollidays.

Old 12-26-2003, 06:03 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: canada
Posts: 369
nero HB User
Re: Physical limitations following spinal fusion (lifetime)

Hi Ramsfan, DonnaKay and Jodawa50,

DonnaKay you already know my story but to address the topic initiator, I had been advised that there is a dominio effect. My surgeon, who I found after a bit of work, who has my greatest confidence, did deliver to me the information prior to my surgery that the artificial disc replacement is the best answer next to God. In other words, he kind of put it in my cap that it was a possibility down the road if I needed it.

You are both right. No doctor will guess the future but I can honestly say I will be putting less emphasis in my life on maintaining muscle tone. THat is,where I treadmilled an incline an hour five to six times a week to maintain my 115 to 118lbs at 44 years of age 5'6' (less a disc now), I realize that my behaviour will include now more time dedicated to my education ie. university (masters hopefully); that is, I have to modify my behaviour and although I love a workout and maintaining my figure I adopted the Atkins diet now which allows me to eat major protein, not feel hungry,still keep my weight down and allow me to treadmill 1/2 every other day instead. Now as I await my first time reading glasses I will commence a university course online to offset what feels like too much time on my hands.

Life is definitely for the living and I intend on making the rest of my life the best it can possibly be. Sometimes (if you believe in it- the intervention of a higher being or perhaps just fate) people like us are too stubborn to change without a major requirement to readjust our focus. To some that would seem ridiculous but I know what kind of time and work I put into my activities and body and now I am seeking to save my neck and will work darn hard on restrategizing my life. It is not easy to change but as we have all learned, one has to live with this new uncertainty of future surgeries and "down time" and I for one am willing to minimize this with a new agenda.

I feel for both of you as I have just had first ACDF with own bone and plate on November 10/03 and although I am adjusting to new spasms and the relief/anxiety of taking off my collar January 1/03, I can honestly say I am a very lucky person to be intellectualizing over my surgery and recovery at no cost to me vs. some poor soul who is broke from surgery or cannot access it. So together in the spirit of the season let us count our blessings and let us be grateful we have this forum to talk to each other. May your struggle and concern be less and less on a daily basis.

Trying to be Nearly New Again... Nero

Last edited by nero; 12-26-2003 at 06:13 PM.

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