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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm new to the site and looking for some help. Like most/everyone else on this site, my passion in life is my horse and riding. I can't imagine life without riding. I had a major back injury 2 yrs ago after falling off a horse. At the time of the accident, I was told I needed a multi-level fusion, which I vowed I would never do and ended up hoping that a minor surgery would solve my issues. It didn't help and I have exhausted all other treatments and options. I have come to the conclusion that it's finally time to break down and have the fusion. I just can't live in this much pain constantly any longer and I have far too many years ahead of me to live like this for the rest of my life (I'm only 36). I still ride as often as I can but that's becoming less and less and the downtime I have after a ride because of the pain is getting more and more. I'm terrified of the fusion but I see no other way around it at this point.

Has anyone out there gone through a lumbar fusion? If so, what is your ability to ride after you recovered? What difference(s) have you noticed in riding post-op? Can you still twist your torso/waist? How long before you were back to riding?

Thank you very much for reading!!

BTW, if it helps, my fusion would be between L4-L5, L5-S1
 

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Hello there.
While I have not had my lower spine fused, I do have a two level fusion in my neck with a titanium plate and screws.
I understand your fears about the whole thing.
I think every individual case is different.
In my case I was bound an determined to get better. I just turned 40 Dec last year. It has been two years since my first neck surgery and in Sept of this year it will have been 2 years since my fusion
One of the things I really loved after my spine surgery was getting into the therapy pool this was really good because in the begining I couldn't move very well.
I stuck with doing physical therapy. myo-facial release massage even after my insurance would not cover any more visits. It was the best thing I ever did.

There is so much I can share with you about my journey through many many surgeries, 2 on my neck and something like 7 others for other injuries, all over about a 5 year period of time. it was tough.

I now know when I do not ride 3 plus times a week I actually hurt more.

I think the best thing to do is to be very good about following your doc/surgeons instructions (to the "T" ) until he/she releases you to do certain things.

I am not going to say that either of my two spinal surgeries was easy, because they were not. I literally went through hell, but....I never gave up.
Wow, I have a ton to share with you if you would like to pm me I am happy to share or answer any specific questions about fusion surgery. I am not a doctor, but can share what I do know and my experience.

Hope this gives you a tiny seed of hope if nothing else.

Halfpass
 

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I would suggest absolutely, positively making sure you have a doctor that knows what the heck they're doing. I would ask for references galore and would contact former patients who have had the same procedure done by whoever is going to do your back. I say this because my mother had a triple-fusion back surgery done, and even though her surgeon was an extremely reputable one, the result was disastrous. I don't want to upset you, but please make a huge effort in looking into the individual who's responsible for operating on you. I believe you can never take too much time finding the right doctor, especially with a case like this.
 

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The physical therapy after is extremely important. Look for a physical therapist knowledgeable about sports injuries.
 

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4footed,

I think it's entirely possible to ride after having L4-L5, L5-S1 fused, depending on your discipline. I would think dressage would be the most difficult to pursue with that fusion; and after surgery you'll want to stick to horses and horse activities that are less prone to aggravating the injury.

My husband had a laminectomy of L5 -S1 and has two bulging discs above; but has returned to his old activities 100% after recovering from the surgery. You wouldn't know he's had any previous back problems looking at him. My riding buddy had a fusion of two vertebrae in her neck, and it was one of the best things she ever did in terms of pain relief.

Good luck!
 

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4footed, it's inspiring that you had the courage to post your story as your first post on the forums. So first of all, a huge welcome and I think we'll all agree that we hope you'll be around for a while. I would like to follow this and find out more about how you're doing if/when you end up going through with it.

HalfPass - great post! I think it's awesome you're still riding after all of that. Another inspiration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies! Wow, this is a great board! :D

HalfPass, we'll continue our pm...

lacyloo, wow! That's great you were back riding so quickly! Thanks for the inspiration!

Lucentael, I'd like to think my surgeon is reputable. He's the director of neurosurgery for a collection of local hospitals, has an impressive resume, and has been recommended by a few other back doctors that he'd be the one to pick for a fusion. However, he did my lami/discectomy and it was unsuccessful. He told me that fusions are about 80% successful. I'm terrified to be part of the 20%.... I also have rheumatoid arthritis which tends to slow my healing and recovery so not sure how that'll impact the fusion. I've asked for fusion patient references but thanks to privacy laws, they cannot give me any names.

PaintHorseMares, I have an amazing sports medicine guy that does PT/rehab. I think I'll be in good hands with him post-op.

maura, my discipline is dressage. Of course I would love to continue with that pursuit post-op but worst case scenario, as long as I can even trail ride (maybe jump logs along the way), ride a trot & canter, I'd be ok. I have a 4 yr old horse that I bought as a yearling. I'm constantly reminded by loved ones that an older, more seasoned horse would be much wiser but my gelding is truly my dream horse on so many levels and I can't imagine parting with him for any amount of money or for any reason. He's got a great mind and is quite brave so I'm not too worried.

MissH, thanks for your kind post!


Thanks again to everyone. :D Of course I'd love a clearcut "here's how it's going to be" but I realize everyone is different and no two cases are the same and it's impossible to know how it'll turn out for certain. I'm trying to hold out until the fall to have the fusion. I don't want the summer to pass me by completely. Our winter has been soooo long that I'd like to be able to enjoy the nice weather for a bit. At the rate I'm degenerating, I don't know if I'll make it that long though.

Happy riding to everyone out there! :D
 

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I had scoliosis back surgery a year ago and it was a life saving surgery. Most people with scoliosis have one curve to the spine but I had two and both curves were pushing on my ribs making it hard to walk or do anything for long. So I did the surgery as soon as I found out that i had scoliosis and had a rod put in that runs the length of my whole back making it impossible to do some things like tie my shoes or picking out a horses hooves.
It is very hard to bounce back after but as long as you take precautions when riding and not overdue it right away you will be fine. In fact I found riding more enjoyable after surgery cause there is no more pain.
Like a few other people said doing some equine sports will be very hard like polo or dressage.
I seriously hope you continue riding after the surgery. Don't quit doing something you love just because of an injury.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi ShezaCharmer,
Thanks for your post. You're inspirational! That must've been a difficult recovery for you. Good for you though for being so strong! I'd never ever give up riding even if I had to crawl there. I was supposed to stop riding after my fall, due to my injury and shouldn't be riding now. I endure major pain to ride but to me, it's worth it. Unfortunately my degeneration is getting so bad that it's getting hard to even walk, let alone ride.

I guess I'm more afraid of the unknown of the surgery than anything. And of course I think of the worst and envision not being able to move or bend my torso ever again, which I'm sure is unrealistic (I hope!). I'm terrified of some complication post-op then hearing "you'll never ride again". I'd just die! :cry:
 

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For what it's worth, at seeing your determination I honestly think you're going to be okay in the end. Whatever the outcome of the surgery, as long as you don't allow yourself to be defeated by it you won't be.

I personally don't have much advice to give, but I did find a health message board that has a section on back problems. The first thread on there is Post Surgery Tips, which I would imagine are helpful. I've skimmed a few of the threads and some good advice seems to be given.

Back Problems - HealthBoards Message Boards

Here is the link to it. I hope it helps a bit.
I wish you the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow Lucentael! You looked that up for me? You're so nice to have done that! I really appreciate it! You're totally awesome! THANK YOU!!!! :D:D:D
 

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Hi,

I'm new to the site and looking for some help. Like most/everyone else on this site, my passion in life is my horse and riding. I can't imagine life without riding. I had a major back injury 2 yrs ago after falling off a horse. At the time of the accident, I was told I needed a multi-level fusion, which I vowed I would never do and ended up hoping that a minor surgery would solve my issues. It didn't help and I have exhausted all other treatments and options. I have come to the conclusion that it's finally time to break down and have the fusion. I just can't live in this much pain constantly any longer and I have far too many years ahead of me to live like this for the rest of my life (I'm only 36). I still ride as often as I can but that's becoming less and less and the downtime I have after a ride because of the pain is getting more and more. I'm terrified of the fusion but I see no other way around it at this point.

Has anyone out there gone through a lumbar fusion? If so, what is your ability to ride after you recovered? What difference(s) have you noticed in riding post-op? Can you still twist your torso/waist? How long before you were back to riding?

Thank you very much for reading!!

BTW, if it helps, my fusion would be between L4-L5, L5-S1
Hi. I had L3-L4-L5 fused in early January. I feel incredible, the first time in 15 years. I have not ridden yet, even though I have a Peruvian with a very smooth gait. I plan to call my surgeon tomorrow to see if I can start riding. I'm guessing he'll want me to wait another few months until the new bone has grown in more. I'll post here what I find out.
 

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My riding buddy and good friend went over a cliff on horse 4 years ago last week. He broke his back in 5 places ( the bottom 5 transvers processes) and cracked his pelvis. Last week he told me he was finally weaned off the Oxycotin and Loritabs he had been taking for 4 years. He was on a max dose for most of 3 years. it took over a year to wean him off his addiction to the painkillers.

About a year ago he had a surgery that implanted a small device in his back. It stimulates the muscles. Much like the feeling you get when you hit your crazy bone. He can control the amount of stimulation with a small box attached to his belt. The twitching or tingle he gets over rides the pain that his nerves normally transmit to the brain. So the pain in his back is still there, but he doesn't feel it. He feels the twitching muscles instead. It's kinda of the process of overloading the nerves with too much info to transmit.

It works so well that he is back riding with me on a regular basis. We did an 8 hour ride in April across the San Rafael Swell area of Central Utah. He is totally free of any pain killer pills now.

I know the proceedure was extremely expensive and he was very fortunate that his insurance ante'd up and paid for it. But it has given him a new life. I don't know what the proceedure was called. He has always just referred to it as the Back Implant. You may want to look into that and see if its an option.
 

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I have had back surgery (diskectomy) and still ride but I find trot difficult. Luckily I have an Icelandic horse who doesn't trot, only tolts!

Riding is something I am loathe to give up. Sometimes I just take more painkillers and tell myself that it is very good core-muscle exercise.

Best of luck with your operation and I hope you have a successful recovery back into the saddle. Just take things at your pace rather than over-face yourself for the sake of progress.
 

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Riding after back surgery

Talked to my surgeon's nurse today, and she said his big concern is not the jarring from the horse (not really an issue with a Peruvian), but rather an unexpected event, like getting thrown. Since I trail ride, that makes sense. He said we can revisit it when I go back for my 6-month check-up and sees how the new bone is growing. The biggest recommendation I have is that you go with a neurosurgeon, rather than an orthopedic surgeon. I have talked to so many people, including doctors and nurses, who say any back surgery involving nerves, like fusion, should be done by a neurosurgeon. I'm so glad I listened to them - first time I've been pain free in over 15 years. Oh, and one more thing - when I was still deciding whether to have the surgery, the surgeon told me about the only people who can't resume normal activity are gymnasts and that I'd never be able to touch my toes again. I also found this link helpful ...

https://vic.pvhs.org/pls/portal/doc...FO PATIENT RES NEUROSURG LUMBAR ACTIV TWO.PDF

Good luck!
 

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life after surgery

almost 4 years ago I had a lam/diskectomy at l5/s1, it failed and four months later I had a front/rear fusion at l5/s1. that failed also. life sucks, and I have my good days and my bad, but overall, it is better than is was between the first surgery and the second.

Even if all goes well, I would be very leery of a doctor allowing you to ride before a year has past. Recovery from such an invasive procedure is slow, even when things go well. you may, in many cases, feel great, but that doesn't mean your muscles are back up to snuff and working well again.

I no longer own a horse, so I don't get to go out much, but I have been out since I got hurt, and I can tell you that riding a horse hurts a whole lot less than riding in the car.

I can also tell you, that if you love riding, then you will do it again after-wards. Whether things go extremely well, or poorly, there will come a time when you will need to feel the muscles beneath you and the wind in your face. a time when you need to prove to yourself that you can still do it.

I would recommend now, finding and developing a relationship with someone with an absolutely bombproof horse. you cannot risk a fall after your surgery, at least for a year or two. and after sitting idle for all that time, I doubt your own horse will still be a good choice for that first ride (I could be wrong on that). going and riding a nice bombproof stable student horse the first few times out could make a huge difference.

The biggest thing I can recommend is keep a positive attitude no matter what happens, and find others with similar problems that you can talk to and work things out with. Back pain is a special thing, other people cannot see or understand your problems, you will go out on good days, and stay in on bad days, because of that, most people who know you will greatly underestimate the issues you have. talking to others with the same problems can help you from falling into the trap of depression. Riding can also help keep you out of that trap, if you are able.

you didn't say, but I hope that your horse is at your home, or boarded closely. a daily grooming session with your horse for the months you cannot ride, if possible, would be a great way to really latch down and tighten the relationship you have, and also a wonderful therapy exercise for you, doctor permitting of course.

I wish you luck, and hope that things work out well for you. give me a shout if you think there are some questions I might be able to answer for you or some help I could give.

VT
 

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Just a quick note as it is late. I am six months post op from a two level fusion. I had ten miserable years of suffering. I am so glad I did it. I have asked my surgeon when I can start to ride, just easy stuff and I'm hoping he will let me. As I also had cancer the chemotherapy made my bone density weak so they had to go in the front and back and it was over eight hours on the table. I have screws, rods, etc. If anyone wants to write me or ask me any questions please feel free to write me. Also I have done a ton of research on disc replacement which I was not a candidate for due to my bone density. It's a fantastic operation and the downtime is minimal. Mostly people go to Germany as they have 20 years of experience there. I was scared and worried for ten years and lost ten years of my life. We all have a different way of making the right decisions for ourselves.
 
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