Herniated discs and horseback riding?
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.
In 2003, I was a backseat passenger in a vehicle that was rear ended into the middle of an intersection, knocked into the car in front of us (he was a bit in front of the line, waiting for traffic to clear before turning) and then t-boned by an oncoming car who failed to yield their red light.
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.
I was told in Summer 2005, that short of surgery, there was nothing left for them to do for me. I was also advised to never ride roller coasters or do anything that would result in a bad fall on my back. To do so would most likely result in partial paralysis, depending on how hard the impact. When discussing surgery, they said I was too young and that there wouldn't be any surgery because I was young enough to heal. However I haven't "healed", I've tolerated pain in winter, on humid days and after routine slips and falls. I wake up stiff and sore most mornings, numbness in my legs and arms, muscle cramping (I hate those ranging from annoying twitches to the charley horse pains the most) and the nerve pain that zings up or down my extremities which ends with what feels like a lightening bolt.
My reason for posting this novel of a thread is because I'd like to see about riding a horse again. 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?
Only precaution I can think of is making sure you are covered by your insurance company. If your Dr. says don't do it and you ignore him can your insurance company get out of paying your medical bills? I know insurance companies are not your friend so might want a lawyer to look into it.
Personally, if the answer comes back that they get to pass on paying your bills, don't get on a horse. The risk of getting hurt or aggravating your injury is to high.
On horseback riding, it's not if it's when and how bad will you get hurt.
In 2010 I was rearended and it resulted in 3 herniated discs and a separation in my spine. I went through a year of physical therapy and then they told me there was nothing more they could do. I waited until the lawsuit was over and then I got right back to riding.
My doctors (4 of them) said I could do everything I used to do with the exception of skiiing. Skiing allows to much movement of the spine and could result in a break. So I ride as much as I can.
Riding has almost alleviated all my pain. It keeps my back muscles toned and in shape to hold everything together. I ride english, mostly in a dressage saddle, so having to keep proper posture helps a ton.
When it comes to insurance it doesn't matter your doctors opinion as the insurance can turn down treatment anyway calling it a pre-existing condition if you have changed insurance carriers since the accident.
Now when I ride a bucking horse I may be sore the next day but it's not in the bones only the muscle.
Dreamcatcher you are right about it being not if but when and how bad. But I don't recall stating "if I get hurt" because I knew better :-P
Polly I wanted to ask if you use a back brace or any protective riding gear for your back? I'm so sorry about your injuries...sounds much more painful than what I went through.
I do have a protective riding vest for if I'm going to be getting on a horse that will most likely dump me. Otherwise I do nothing special other than stretching after to avoid spasms. I also have a back brace that I used to have to wear regularly until I started riding and the pain is rare now.
You just have to remember your injuries before agreeing to get on a horse. I've ridden a barely green broke horse that bucked like he was in the rodeo and nothing but muscle soreness after, although I never came off either. But if it looks crazy or isn't broke, don't risk it.
Good luck to you! Hope your back heals up! I have had to deal with back issues too, though nowhere near as bad as yours. I had surgery for scoliosis as a child and that doesn't bother me now but it makes me a little nervous when riding. I also fell down the stairs on my back several years ago. Which proves that you can get hurt anywhere, not just on a horse, don't even need to leave your house!!
The protective vest is a good idea, maybe also pay attention to looking for a smooth gaited horse, too. Maybe a TW or something. Never rode one but some have said they're good for those with bad backs.
Or you can just post in the trot so you get a good workout and it doesn't jar your back :D
I had a herniated disk in my back from dance and gymnastics when I was 9. They operated when I was 18. My doc had told me to never dance again and stay away from gymnastics and horses. Well, I did take a long time off, but I'm back in the saddle (I have stayed away from the other activities other than teaching it). Anyways, there are days where the pain is still there or the stiffness, but riding seems to help work the muscles out and stretch everything to where I feel better when done. If you haven't ridden in a while, I would definitely start slow. Let your muscles start to lengthen and strengthen again. I w/t/c on my mare and there are some days where I'm a little stiff or sore afterwards, but hasn't been unbearable. A motrin usually does the trick. I would definitely take it slow and easy though and stick to a walk or slow trot.
Oh yeah, I ride roller coasters every year with my daughter. I pretty much said to myself, life is too short to sit back and watch. Grab the reins and go!
Hope your back gets better and you're back in the saddle soon! Best of luck and health to you!
I have a herniated disk between L4 & L5 & a fracture of the L5 parrs. Spine Dr told me riding would cause serious pain & I probably shouldn't do it. Since I started lessons a few months ago, I have less back pain. It has forced me to strengthen up my abs & lower back. While my back issues don't sound quite as bad as yours, I would try it in a controled situation
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