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Helmet use post Anterior Cervical Fusion?

morfic

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Has anyone had some discs removed and vertebrae fused?
How long before you were allowed back to work?
How long before you were allowed to drive a car?
How long before you were allowed to ride a bike/wear a helmet?

How does it affect your ability to do shoulder checks in car and on motorcycle now?

I’m looking at probably ending up with fusions on C4-C7 next year.
I’m getting epidural steroid injections Monday to see if it can help with some of the pain by in swelling the Nerv root that’s compressed by bulging disc, but spine doctor basically just suggested that as an option to give me time to plan surgery.
(Will have to revive the Grand Cherokee that wasn’t “winterized” and just one day we realized as the car that hasn’t been used in over a year (can anyone suggest a good transfer pump to get old gas out before I try restoring power?))

Didn’t find enough google results that painted a consistent picture on the recovery and future mobility.

And I’m still weeks out from asking doctor again, left last appointment thinking he answered all possible questions and then realized I have a lot more.

Thanks,

Daniel


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WFO75080

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My son broke his back jacking around on the bike and in turn ended his racing career. At 33 he has some major back issues and has had 2 surgeries so far. He's pretty bent on motorcycles and blames them instead of himself for his issues. I would get 5 different opinions before I EVER let someone cut on my back. At 60 I've had my share of racing accidents. My back is almost 30 degrees out and I'm in the process of trying to decide if I can stay away from surgery. 6 Bulging disks in all. Doesn't bother me too much or at least not enough to hang it up. The injections were painful but actually helped quite a bit, but didn't last. Some days are better than others. My son has had 2 disks fused and was back to work in a week. That said he travels for a living. Good luck.
 

Monica

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Ive broke c5,6 and 7 in a bad mva. Ive got two of those fused together, can't remember which. My ROM is limited to the left but I've learned to compensate.

Ive got several friends who have dealt or are dealing with disc /back issues. One has had surgery and she's got a new lease on life. The others are still deciding how to go about treatment.

My general philosophy about body break downs are the same as anything machine/mechanical, fix it before you experience catastrophic failure or you break something else down the line because it's strained from the original issue. But i dont break often and I'm generally as healthy as as an ox. Ymmv.
 
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I am three years out from bi-level fusion--C6, C7 and T1. My neck mobility is not great. You learn to turn your whole upper body when you need to check a blind spot, etc. It was about 9 months until I got on my dirt bike. In my case, my surgery was prompted by my left arm and hand not working enough to even hold a toothbrush. I would say it is 80% returned to full function. I still have some loss of feeling and strength but nothing that stops me from doing anything I want to. If I had to do tasks that required fine motor dexterity with my fingers and my hand I would be in trouble. I have since returned to racing and riding just like I was pre-surgery. I have had a few pretty major get offs that tested my neck but it has held together so far. There are many really good light helmet options now available, and the best and lightest helmet you can find will really help with overall neck fatigue, which was increased for me and still is. For me, racing and riding off road, a Leatt neck brace that limits how far your neck can flex really helps too. although I have gotten lazy and do not wear it all the time.

I would go to another neurosurgeon to get a second opinion. I would not recommend fusion surgery unless there are absolutely no other options.
 
Joined
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Tom
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Has anyone had some discs removed and vertebrae fused? Had this surgery (C4-C7 fusion) done in Sept of 2013 (bone spurs & degenerative disc resulted in vertebrae pinching nerves - resulting in severe neck / shoulder pain and loss of feeling & strength in arms. Still have some numbness in fingers
How long before you were allowed back to work? Will depend on type of work you do - I was restricted to lifting max of 5lbs for about 5 weeks and then 20 lbs for about 8 or 9 weeks after that - I had a desk job with no lifting, so Dr gave ok for me to go back after my post surgery Dr visit and xray check showing that fusion was bonded which was about 3 weeks after surgery.
How long before you were allowed to drive a car? Driving was restricted until the 5 lb lifting limit was removed - so about 5 weeks (main concern is making sudden head movements or whiplash possibility during the full healing process)
How long before you were allowed to ride a bike/wear a helmet? If I had only had the cervical fusion, I could have started riding after the all lifting restrictions were removed, so about 20 weeks after surgery - but I also had a lumbar fusion done in December 2013, so I didn't start riding again until Sept of 2014 just to make sure everything was completely healed and fusions were solid

How does it affect your ability to do shoulder checks in car and on motorcycle now? I had about 90% to 95% of full range after surgery - so not a noticable loss of ability

I’m looking at probably ending up with fusions on C4-C7 next year.
I’m getting epidural steroid injections Monday to see if it can help with some of the pain by in swelling the Nerv root that’s compressed by bulging disc, but spine doctor basically just suggested that as an option to give me time to plan surgery. Injections and therapy may help if pressure is only caused by bulging disc - but if you have bone on nerve pressure, what your spine Dr states is true.
See my comments above - hope all goes well for you.
 
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2nd opinions are a good thing. I was in Houston last week to get a 2nd opinion regarding would could have been a painful and prohibitively expensive preventative treatment. It turned out to be worth the trip. Be sure your 2nd opinion source is recognized as being a higher level of expertise than where you got your diagnosis and recommendation; otherwise, you're just shopping for the answer you want to hear.
 
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We learn to compensate in a million ways. As an example, I've learned to compensate for hearing loss by simply not being angry at the rude things you sometimes think people say. I've learned to compensate for peripheral vision loss due to a detached retina, but actually using my turn signal, and swinging the body over a few more degrees just to be sure, accompanied by a prayer when changing lanes to the left. I compensate for carpel tunnel in my hands by drinking more alcohol before playing my guitar. Hair loss? No problem, wear hats and grow a beard. Feel like you have superior physical strength and stamina? Become a farmer and prove it :-)
 

morfic

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Threw out my first reply I started and apparently never sent.

I’m very likely to get a second opinion on it, as well as me waiting until I have to, while not waiting so long I have problems that can’t be undone.

My OP was not about hanging it up but about how soon to safely return, so I don’t regret it , but also a little about how much it’ll really cost me as being out of work isn’t something I can really afford, so that takes planning as vacation is burned up thanks to Xmas/New year burning 2x16 hours to cover company closures.

I was wondering about neck braces but not sure how they work with jackets, although I do see they mention for commuters.

Also, I’m glad this didn’t come up sooner because I found out I paid for the bigger insurance plan but UHC set me up with only the middle option.
People asked me why I didn’t wait until 2020 to meet my correct deductible right in January...I made Monday’s appointment when I was in severe pain, and don’t want to risk returning there before some time in January if I drag it out. It’s a weird uncontrollable gamble which way I wake up, it’s not as terrible today.



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Just had a multi level cervical fusion this year, recovery is going great, rotation is almost normal after 10 months.
Tilting my head can be challenging sometimes in most directions but I get through it.
Doing good physio after surgery is critical, and keeping up with it after the prescribed duration is also a really good idea.
I'm a bit surprised how many folks on here have had this kind of procedure though....
 

morfic

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Just had a multi level cervical fusion this year, recovery is going great, rotation is almost normal after 10 months.
Tilting my head can be challenging sometimes in most directions but I get through it.
Doing good physio after surgery is critical, and keeping up with it after the prescribed duration is also a really good idea.
I'm a bit surprised how many folks on here have had this kind of procedure though....
How long did you have to wait before going for a ride, daily ride? Or still working towards that?

Got to say: Epidural steroid shots are amazing, pretty much pain free for now, wonder how long that effect lasts, just my three fingers being numb reminds me I have bum discs (ok and the crunchy sounds moving my head in certain directions)

Merry Christmas everyone.



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Got to say: Epidural steroid shots are amazing, pretty much pain free for now, wonder how long that effect lasts, just my three fingers being numb reminds me I have bum discs (ok and the crunchy sounds moving my head in certain directions)

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How long the benefits from the epidural shot (along with physical therapy to help decompress vertebrae) will depend on type of damage / condition that has been causing the pinching/compression of the nerve bundle.

On my first go round (about 22 yrs ago) the primary issue was a bulging disc, having the shot & multiple PT sessions (including head traction) allowed me to go about 12 yrs (continued with PT exercises at home and regular use of my inversion table) before my second go round when I had to have a couple of bone spurs removed at C3 that were pinching off the nerve bundle - tried a shot & PT prior to surgery but it did not help with the bone spur issue.

On my third go round, I had a return of cervical bone spurs @ C3 (10 yrs after first surgery) and degenerative discs at C4,C5 and L4,L5,S1 - tried the shots & PT again but they did nothing for cervical and only had minimal benefit on lumbar for a little less than 2 weeks - due to the disc spacing loss and stenosis be severe - thi led to my fusion surgeries in 2013.

Starting to have lumbar issues again back in August due to disc degeneration and increased stenosis C3 area above the fused discs. I had a shot in September and it has helped, will likely get another shot in January and follow up with another round of PT to see if it will give me a year or two before I will have to get the next surgery.

Hopefully your issue is just the bulging disc and with the shot & PT will work for a long period.
 
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How long did you have to wait before going for a ride, daily ride? Or still working towards that?
Got to say: Epidural steroid shots are amazing, pretty much pain free for now, wonder how long that effect lasts, just my three fingers being numb reminds me I have bum discs (ok and the crunchy sounds moving my head in certain directions)
Merry Christmas everyone.
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I waited over 7 months to go for a ride, most guidelines say around 4-6 months. I have had complications from other injuries and surgeries, so I'm not sure how much help I will be there as my other injuries still affect my ability to ride. I still can't ride for much more than an hour, nearly a year later. But my neck works better than it has for a few years with much less pain and much better ROM.
The PT made a world of difference, although it was very uncomfortable for a few weeks, I got a big increase in ROM as a result. Stick with it and do some more at home for the next 6-12 months.

I found the epidural shots very helpful but they didn't last very long for me, just a couple of months, but they were good while they lasted. The duration is very much an individual experience, some folks they only last 2 weeks, some for many months.
They should come with a warning though, the shots can be very tough on your liver and kidney function, so you might want to monitor those numbers on your blood test.
I was quite disappointed that nobody mentioned those risks to me when I was getting them done.

Finally, have a tough conversation with your surgeon about the "what if" factors. A surgeon who doesn't have clear information about those realities is going to be a real let-down if the surgery doesn't go as planned. How many surgeries haven't worked? Why and what did you do next for them? How are they now? (if he doesn't know, that's a bad sign) What will you suggest if my surgery doesn't go to plan? Don't let them get off with "we'll cross that bridge if we come to it" answers, because if you are one of the 'unlucky ones', the answer might be "Tough break, that's between your body and God, I did my job perfectly." DAMHIK
Strongly suggest you speak to at least 2-3 neurosurgeons before deciding on who to go with, I would not use a regular orthopedic-surgeon for spinal fusion but YMMV.
You can also check on sites like https://www.healthgrades.com/ or https://www.ratemds.com/ for reviews of your candidates, or just do a google search on reviews of their work.

I wish you nothing but the best, it's a fairly testing recovery since we tend to move our necks much more than you realize, until you can't! Then just when you get used to not moving it, you start doing PT and move it more than you ever wanted to. Some tips for you...
You will likely lose your voice for a week or so after surgery, it will be seriously uncomfortable to swallow or drink/eat/speak, might want to practice your texting skills for those first few days. Soft foods only, soup is your friend but not too hot.
Remember to check your insurance cover for driving, if you drive without medical clearance it can invalidate your coverage.
Muscle fatigue is going to come on you pretty fast at first, once you start driving it will ramp up again so plan for that in your travel arrangements after surgery.
Better keep any rides very short to begin with as the fatigue is much faster on the bike.
Feel free to PM me if you want more details of my experience.
 
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So, I hate to be the bearer of questionable opinion, but after a procedure like this, why would you ride or do anything of higher risk like skiing, skateboarding, walking the lesser trained dog per AARP?
 
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So, I hate to be the bearer of questionable opinion, but after a procedure like this, why would you ride or do anything of higher risk like skiing, skateboarding, walking the lesser trained dog per AARP?
For the same reason we do anything that has higher risk. Quality of life.
Why should I stop riding, or doing anything else that I love and that adds value to my life, just because of a small impediment?
If we live only based on risk avoidance, it would be a poor life.
To quote Zapata & others, "better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
Or one of my favorites, "Drink deeply from the cup of life, it comes just once."
 
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For the same reason we do anything that has higher risk. Quality of life.
Why should I stop riding, or doing anything else that I love and that adds value to my life, just because of a small impediment?
If we live only based on risk avoidance, it would be a poor life.
To quote Zapata & others, "better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
Or one of my favorites, "Drink deeply from the cup of life, it comes just once."
I agree - that's why I started riding again & continue to ride after being hit by a car back in 2018
 
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OK, I get it, and apologize. I was thinking about the recovery of my son and his lifetime chalIenges from a bad motorcycle wreck. I missed that fact than my own 830K miles on a motorcycle is considered pretty risky by most folks. Not to mention that a quarter of those were ridden like a madman. It may not have been the safest path but I lived life fully. I am certainly not qualified to tell anyone how to minimize risks their life.
 
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OK, I get it, and apologize. I was thinking about the recovery of my son and his lifetime chalIenges from a bad motorcycle wreck. I missed that fact than my own 830K miles on a motorcycle is considered pretty risky by most folks. Not to mention that a quarter of those were ridden like a madman. It may not have been the safest path but I lived life fully. I am certainly not qualified to tell anyone how to minimize risks their life.
Sorry to hear of your son's injuries and troubles, that must have been tough on all of you.
No apologies needed, I assumed it was a fair question and deserved a similar answer.
Like you, I am much better at managing the risks of my riding choices than I once was.
I look back with some surprise and lots of gratitude that I survived being young and stupid.
830k is an amazing total BTW, well done.
 
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Thanks for your kind words. My son was in a hospital bed for a year after the accident, and became addicted to opiates as a result. He is now clean by a miracle that only the prayers of many begging for God's grace could deliver. It was over 15 years of struggles and relapses all the expenses that come with it. I survived young and stupid and being testosterone filled through 50+years, and then slowed down and actively managed risk. You find yourself asking why him, not me? Even with that in the background, I could not give up riding, but think I only put on a couple thousand miles in the year after his accident. My wife sold her VFR and quit the sport she had enjoyed for many years. Two years later she claimed a mint 1999 Kawi ZRX1100 that tried to slip unannounced into the garage, and started riding again. She rode it all over Colorado. Two BMWs later she went on to ride to Alaska in 2012. Far be it for me to discourage anyone from riding.
 

morfic

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Why I don’t want to give it up?

To me riding is not (just) an enjoyable hobby as seems is the most common motorcycle use in the US, it’s not an extra, not an optional activity.

It’s a mode of transportation that is far more enjoyable (in general) than any other ground transportation.

You could argue I gave it up for twenty years as i didn’t restart it after moving continents, so I could surely do it again, and a lot of rationalizations that worked for twenty years are now nullified. I am just looking at that as: if I can do it no less safe than I did it before surgery, then I won’t give it up again.

But something I learned and hasn’t even considered:

Asking the surgeon about how long before I can work and how long before I could drive a car he mentioned I can’t do anything for two weeks and after that I could work.
I just can’t drive a car and he adds: “not so much that it would be bad for you, you would just be likely to get pulled over as it’s not legal to drive a car with a neck brace “

Ok, I can’t find anything black on white saying so, but it seems to fall into the gray area of officer interpretations of what affects driver performance, so I can book it as best to avoid either way.

But basically there will be a time after the two weeks of no work where I can’t drive but can be driven to work.

Single answer from a single surgeon will do for now as I plan to stick to injection for as long as the surgery isn’t a necessity. (Liver/Kidney didn’t come up, but as type 2 diabetic my blood sugar was a bit off for a couple days, and as such I also get bloodwork every six months, next in February, so doc would see anything being off for sure)

But I’m not completely ignoring this post op life: I’ll likely get a Leatt neck brace for after all is healed up and doc gives ok to ride. Will just have to see how to do that in summer, at over 100F it doesn’t seem appealing inside nor outside jacket (I imagine it would affect how my jacket opens), I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Thanks for all the info and concerns,

Daniel


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Why I don’t want to give it up?

To me riding is not (just) an enjoyable hobby as seems is the most common motorcycle use in the US, it’s not an extra, not an optional activity.

It’s a mode of transportation that is far more enjoyable (in general) than any other ground transportation.

You could argue I gave it up for twenty years as i didn’t restart it after moving continents, so I could surely do it again, and a lot of rationalizations that worked for twenty years are now nullified. I am just looking at that as: if I can do it no less safe than I did it before surgery, then I won’t give it up again.

But something I learned and hasn’t even considered:

Asking the surgeon about how long before I can work and how long before I could drive a car he mentioned I can’t do anything for two weeks and after that I could work.
I just can’t drive a car and he adds: “not so much that it would be bad for you, you would just be likely to get pulled over as it’s not legal to drive a car with a neck brace “

Ok, I can’t find anything black on white saying so, but it seems to fall into the gray area of officer interpretations of what affects driver performance, so I can book it as best to avoid either way.

But basically there will be a time after the two weeks of no work where I can’t drive but can be driven to work.

Single answer from a single surgeon will do for now as I plan to stick to injection for as long as the surgery isn’t a necessity. (Liver/Kidney didn’t come up, but as type 2 diabetic my blood sugar was a bit off for a couple days, and as such I also get bloodwork every six months, next in February, so doc would see anything being off for sure)

But I’m not completely ignoring this post op life: I’ll likely get a Leatt neck brace for after all is healed up and doc gives ok to ride. Will just have to see how to do that in summer, at over 100F it doesn’t seem appealing inside nor outside jacket (I imagine it would affect how my jacket opens), I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Thanks for all the info and concerns,

Daniel


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Hang in there buddy, my broken shoulder is now 5 months old and getting better every day.
 

morfic

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Thanks.

One injection changed me from “omg, surgery soon!” To “what surgery?”, even if numb finger tips always remind I’m on borrowed time, my thoughts are more on notchy head bearings (ugh) than my own “bulgy head bearings” ;)

It since I’m not supposed to aggravate my neck much (no lifting over 10lbs), I’m waiting on a quote for a head bearing replacement, if it’s not covered by warranty that is.


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So, I hate to be the bearer of questionable opinion, but after a procedure like this, why would you ride or do anything of higher risk like skiing, skateboarding, walking the lesser trained dog per AARP?
I quit riding in 2003 after getting busy with work and after having multiple friends die on bikes. By 2017 I had become a bit of a grouchy aging workaholic who had tuned out life. I have a wonderful family that I love more than anything, great job, etc., but I was just marking time most days. I'll skip what woke me up, but something caused me to say "screw it" and buy another bike. Now there's 5 in the garage... I ride every chance I get everywhere on everything I can get a leg over. Is it responsible for a 50 year old father with an old neck injury that could kill him if he goes down to power wheelie a Street Triple RS out of a corner like a teenager? Or rip down some old dirt trail on DRZ? "Fly the chair" on a Ural? Nope... but I'm living, not just "alive". For me, if I go back to doing "safe" things that require little focus or energy and don't get my pulse up at all, I'll be dead in 5 or 10 years. I feel younger all around right now, in spite of the aches, pains, and numb hands, than I have in 15+ years. That's why the risk is acceptable to me-- the benefits far outweigh risk.
 

morfic

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It's too bad it's not as easy as going to Rocky Mountain , order the bearings, and tap them in.
I probably just do what I did when I had front wheel bearings replaced under warranty: order a all balls kit and store it for next time when I have to do it myself, hopefully not before 38K miles.


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