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Herniated discs and horseback riding?

This is a discussion on Herniated discs and horseback riding? within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse riding with slipped cervical disk
  • Horse riding falls and disc issues

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    09-13-2012, 08:05 PM
  #11
Weanling
Thanks littrella, fkonidaris, poppy, Darrin and Dreamcatcher! Your advice is helpful and I'm ready to ride again! I hope your injuries heal soon poppy and littrella!
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    09-13-2012, 11:48 PM
  #12
Foal
I have also dealt with back issues. It was about 2 1/2 years ago. I was an inexperienced beginner and a very irresponsible adult stuck me on a green horse.

I came off multiple times. I landed on my back and upper right buttocks more times than I should of. I ended up with a herniated L5-S1. I went so long just ignoring the pain that I caused some nerve damage. It wasn't untill I got stuck on my horse that I realized it was time to go to the doctor.

They didn't think it was too serious so we started with Physical Therapy and Ibueprophen. I was herniated so obviously that didn't work. Then we did some anit-inflamitory steriod shots in the irritaited region. That didn't work for long either. It was time to see a surgeon. I had surgery almost a year ago now to remove the offending peice of disc. My doctor was great! I'm surprised they are saying you are too young. You have more going on than I did, but still. Unless they are wanting to fuse things, but if you have a few herniations why not just remove the herniated peice(not the whole disc.) I'm not a doctor though, so I don't know. But one great and kind of scary story my doctor told me.

He had a man that litterally reherniated a disc by bending over and tying his shoe.

I know great story! If you want to ride, ride. You are just as likely to screw yourself up tying your shoe as you are falling off a horse.

One thing I've found that really helps me now after surgery is PT. Stretching, stretching, stretching. Now I just have a lot of muscles to rehab and you still have full blown herniations, so this may not be helpfull.
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    09-14-2012, 02:26 AM
  #13
Foal
Happen to know a few things about back issues and would like to submit some suggestions, ones that I have personally seen work. I come from a family of chiropractors and DO's. My father had one of the top practices in the country until he slowed down to ease into retirement. You have several options.

1. Do nothing, and whether you ride or not your situation will deteriorate.
2. Use regular chiropractic and you may or may not see improvement.
3. Surgury and you likely will end up in more pain long term.

Sounds kind of grim especially number one. However, there are specific options in option 2 or 3 depending on your circumstance that can vastly improve you situation.

First, establish whether there are a lot of bone fragments in your herniations. If there are then you need at least some surgery. If you do surgery, specificly go somewhere that specializes in low invasive procedures on your type of injury. There are several clinics around the country that do this. A bunch claim to but are still behind the curve. And are a little misleading in their advertising. You want to find the least invasive approach to maximize your odds of success. The guys with the smallest scopes and lasers are the way to go and sometimes it is almost outpatient surgery. I don't make recommendations on specific doctors but there is one in Texas that does use some of the smallest equipment available. If surgery isn't needed, recommended or can be avoided effectively then you have another specific option for relief. Find a chiropracter who uses a COX table. I believe the current version is the COX8. This is a manual version of what the rehab guys use for spinal decompression. Your are simply strapped in and the lower vertebra are decompressed. My horse trainer and partner has a problem identical to yours due to a head on wreck with a semi and a job that aggrevated the injuries. She was to the point where she was bedridden part of the time and hadn't ridden in over a year. After 45 years of riding, training and being known in these parts as a real horse whisperer. I got her to go to a chiropractor I trust who had this table and after one treatment she was riding again. (he also greatly improved some chronic migraine issues from the wreck). My only caveat to this approach is that I have found that chiropractors from one specific school seem to have the philosophy and mindset to have consistent success with this table. Ironicly, it is a school that no one in my family has gone to so I'm not a homer on this issue. I'll be glad to tell you which one that is in a private pm and warn you of the other pitfalls you might run into in dealing with Chiro's and surgeons. Unfortunately, there are a lot of losers in both fields. But they are usually easily spotted.

If you want a horse that is easy on the back and tends to be a little less prone to bucking, you might research the Peruvian horse. It's the smoothest ride you'll find and most of them don't tend to be buckers.

A final reminder, the advice I've put out there is based on 40 some odd years of experience living around DC's, DO's, and a couple of the worlds top neurosurgeons. I myself am none of the above and these are only my opinions which you would be wise to examine, research, and decide for yourself before making, and implementing any plans to remediate your situation.
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    09-14-2012, 10:30 AM
  #14
Showing
I'm going to suggest you find an older (10-16) Tennessee Walker because of the smoothness of the flat walk as it moves in a rocking motion which can be therepeutic. I'm not suggesting you ride but I think you'll find they have unique "personalities" and you'll enjoy spending a lot of time with it. Should you decide to take the leap, at least it's smooth. They don't call them the Glide Ride for nothing.
     
    09-18-2012, 02:55 AM
  #15
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsitVita    
I know I will probably get the responses of "Wear a back brace." or "Don't know until you try it!". But here goes any way.

.............. It's been 24 years since I rode a horse and all my life the one thing I've wished for is to have a horse of my own to ride. My fiance, Dan, is dead set on making that dream a reality (I love you so much Babe!). But aside from being extra careful, getting an older more docile horse and wearing a back brace what would be some extra precautions I could take?
Well, I really hope it works out for you to have your own horse and to ride for the rest of your life (safely!).

There's no way I could make any reliable judgement on the safety/risk of your specific situation, but I can offer this observation in the case of my back problems....

I've never been through anything like your experience, but beginning about 15 years ago I had several occurrences of lumbar region low-back pain and although it had been oh, about 10 or 12 months since I had had an episode at the time that I began riding again (after some years away from horses) I was somewhat concerned that riding might aggravate my back or even cause an episode.

I am most delighted to report that after the very first trail ride, my back felt better than it had in a long time. And I quickly realized that this was not an isolated thing. The more I rode, the better my back was and the more certain I was that it was riding that was helping. Now, years after resuming riding, I have not had another "back incident" to this date.

I'm no expert, but I think that the motion that riding a horse at a walk causes in my back is really good for it. I go trail riding every time I can and really love it. I've seen no ill effects from the trot or lope or gallop or anything else either, I'm thankful to report.

I can't make any sort of recommendation as to the safety or danger of you riding, but in the interest of minimizing risk, I can offer this: all three of the times that I've fallen off a horse as an adult would not have happened if I had only been paying good attention. Your attention needs to be on your horse and you need to be very aware of where his attention is and what his state of mind is (as best as you can determine) at all times. If you "see the deer jump into the trail" at the same instant your horse does, you have a much better probability of keeping your seat if he spooks/spins/jumps/etc than if you're turned around talking to someone behind you when your horse sees the deer! We can't eliminate the possibility of a fall, but we can sure do our best to minimize it as much as possible.

Also, if you want to take every opportunity to keep yourself in the saddle, I would recommend a western saddle. Having a nice, high swell to catch with my thigh during a "wheel around to avoid the man-eating deer" episode and having that horn to grab in an emergency has saved me more than once. I'm sure there are many/varied opinions on this point, but that's mine....

I'll pray that it works out for you! Honestly, it's a unique experience and there's nothing else like it....
     
    09-19-2012, 01:17 PM
  #16
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsitVita    
After 8 months of chiropractic care and physical rehabilitation, my attorney finally put the PR doctor under his thumb to get an MRI done on me. MRI resulted in my having a herniated disc at L4-L5 and at L5-S1 which bulged to the right of my spine and with an annular tear. I also have hemangioma inside the lumbar cavities of L1 and L2.
Just a heads up- issues with your ARMS being numb stems from a c-spine (neck) or T1 injury. L1 does not innervate until the upper hip area, and obviously down the legs as you go down as your issues reflect. I would highly suggest getting a neck MRI if this is a chronic problem for you. If its far and few, chances are you slept on it funny etc, and it's not a major issue.

You need to talk to your orthopedist. They are the only ones who know how much risk your injury is for further progression. A herniation is a herniation, but there are varying degrees. If you do get the go- with proper management and slow muscle strengthening, the core workout should significantly help your everyday life. I'd also suggest speaking with your ortho about the back brace too. Do not buy an off the rack. Get fitted for one if they say wearing one is an option.
     
    09-19-2012, 01:21 PM
  #17
Weanling
Thanks all, I will take your advice to heart when speaking with a specialist about this matter....I will keep you posted on it.
     
    09-21-2012, 03:01 PM
  #18
Foal
I have herniated discs in my back. I have herniated discs at c4-5 and L5-6 that are bulging...and those are just the ones that are diagnosed. I may have had either a spinal fracture or a herniated disc at C2-3- there's so much stuff in the way of the x-ray/mri that when they try to get a clear shot of it with any kind of diagnostic it doesn't come out well. I also have a double curvature in my spine due to scoliosis.

My doctors are sports specialists especially my back doctor. He advises never to wear a brace with that kind of injury- the support the brace gives will take away some of the job the back muscles have to do and since you want them to be strong you avoid the brace. At least for long term care my orthopedic specialists NEVER want me to wear a brace.

I make sure to keep my core muscles worked- not just back muscles but especially abdominals. That took away a great deal of the pain I was in. For a few bucks a month I joined a local gym and go to their classes 2-3 times a week. At least once or twice a week I hit one where they work on abs at the end and that has helped a great deal.

My mother had quite a nightmare with her chiropractor when she saw him for HER herniated discs. (We come from a long family line of dog groomers- all that lifting of dogs has given us bad backs!)

If you were looking for a different way to manage your back pain I would recommend a back specialist who also specializes in sports injuries- my back doctor is board certified in sports medicine. So is my knee specialist (since I'm extra lucky and have degenerating meniscus in my knee.)

I can't say though that horseback riding has EVER bothered my back. If anything I am looser afterwards.

Cycling also helped loosen up my back quite a bit- just make sure that your bike is well fitted.
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    09-21-2012, 03:11 PM
  #19
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitefeatherz    
..........I can't say though that horseback riding has EVER bothered my back. If anything I am looser afterwards.
That's also my situation. And I'm exceedingly thankful for it! Hey, ain't it great when something you love is actually GOOD for you?

When you have time, I would really appreciate it if you would send me a private message about the chiropractor/disc problems..... Sounds like something I need to know about....

Thanks much!
     
    10-07-2012, 06:04 PM
  #20
Foal
Considering back surgery? Hope this helps.

I hope this post is encouraging to anyone considering spine surgery.

About 20 years ago I hurt my back and was treated for several weeks by a good chiropractor. The x-rays showed I have scoliosis and a transitional vertebra. He gave advice that proved to be excellent. He said to build and maintain a strong core (showed me how with exercises), stay fit, avoid prolonged sitting, etc. He said that if I did not follow his advice, he could guarantee I would have back surgery by the time I was 35. I took up running and became a fitness fanatic. And even though I have a desk job, I set it up as a standing work station. I only sit down to eat with company or when I'm in the car. I'm standing while I type this, incidentally.

I had spinal fusion of L4/L5 about 6 weeks ago at age 40. The decision was pretty easy after 6 months of pain that did not improve with physical therapy and spine injections. I had a ruptured disc and spondylolisthesis (vertebrae above the disc had slipped forward over the one below). I took the surgery because I was losing strength and feeling in my foot. That, and pain, made standing still or sitting nearly impossible, and of course running became dangerous, additionally painful, and aggravating to my other symptoms.
I never considered whether I would ride again- just assumed I would. Besides, everyday activities were severely impaired. I plan not only to ride again, but also run my first marathon next year, and of course return to scuba diving. I am already back on my road bike, but I'm careful not to fall.

So right now, my advice to anyone considering surgery, is this..... Exercise! Get as strong and fit as you can be. If that doesn't work, try physical therapy and whatever other conservative treatments your doctor recommends. If conservative treatments don't get you where you need to be to enjoy life, then do you really have a choice? But I will also say that I have worked VERY hard to stay fit and keep my core strong. I expect to recover well ahead of schedule. Having high expectations for yourself and a great attitude always helps!
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