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    Seasoned Member viatornado's Avatar
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    Default lumbar fusion recovery time?

    I am depressed. I went to see a surgon and he said what I did not want to hear. he said two discs need to be removed and fuse the vertebrae together.

    I was a little out of sorts, even though I knew before going in and half the questions I had just never got asked. I know I have read other posts regarding back problems so I thought this would be a beter source of info.

    Here is the bike related part:

    How long before I will be able to ride again?

    I have only talked to one other rider and he said two years for him!

    I don't think I am a slow healer although I have nothing to comair this to. I have never even broke a bone.

    I am 49 yrs old, a carpenter by trade I am not over weight, I'd say execpt for my back I am in good shape.

    If it will be a long recovery time I will be forced to sell my wing, I have had it a year, still three years to pay on it.

    who has had the fusion and how long before you could ride again???

    thanks

    Ken

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    Seasoned Member KevTN's Avatar
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    It has been a while since I have done Ortho surgery, but here are the things that will effect it are....

    It is two levels which isn't too bad. It depends on if it is L-1 and L-2? or is it L-5 S-1 which is more common? the later is a shorter healing time...but you need to do the rehab and listen to your body.

    Personally I would wait and see, good chance it could be 6-8 weeks. Ask your MD.

    IMHO

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    Seasoned Member Ray&Oy's Avatar
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    VIATORNADO I had lumbar fusion done in 1983 ,Hartford Conn. I had the worse ruptured disc my doctor had ever seen. He was 64 yrs at the time and had written a couple of books. I am a plumber by trade and our backs and knees take a beating. I am sure there has been some advancements in disc surgery since 1983. (1st) Make sure the surgeon that will actually do your surgery has done many of them himself not just assisted. You do not want ANYONE messing with your spine that does not have experience with this type of surgery. I know people that are crippled from letting the wrong person operate on them.(2nd) Do not try to return to work too soon before you have healed.(3rd) Make your surgeon gives you excercises for scar tissue and do them religiously. Many people go back for surgery just to remove scar tissue- seriuosly. It took me about a month to recuperate, and I was out of work maybe 6 wks max. Scar tissue excercises and doing squats helped regain strength in my legs. Sorry this is long winded but I want to make sure you have as much info as possible. Good Luck You will be fine
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    Seasoned Member jnrhaz's Avatar
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    I had my L 5 and S 1 fused two years ago. I was 57 yrs old at the time of the surgery. I am a fire fighter and was off work for 8 week with the instructions of no lifting of anything over 20 pounds for that recovery time. I did manage to hop on the Wing at the 5 week mark and go for a ride. I was real careful putting it on the center stand after and stayed off of it for the rest of the recovery time. I did the surgery in the late fall so as not to miss to much riding good weather riding during the winter months. Good luck on what ever you chose to do.

    Jeff

  6. #5
    Rider Steve
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    No fusion here but I just had recent back surgery. I gave it a month before I got back on my ride. Best of luck.

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    Seasoned Member Cherokee82050's Avatar
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    Default Fusions

    About 4 years ago my wife had C5-C6 which is the cervical (neck) area. she was back on her bike at 8 weeks. Just recently she had L5-S1 done and she was back on her bike in 6 weeks. The main thing is stick to your physical theropy and don't slack off.

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    Seasoned Member viatornado's Avatar
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    I guess I should have put in there that it the L5-S1, and the one above also.
    thanks for giving me a little relief, I do not plan on going in for surgery untill fall, I hurt like heck but pain pills work for now

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    Seasoned Member Jerry Roebke's Avatar
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    I've been under the knife twice for L5-S1.

    The first time was a simple fusion with some of the ruptured disk removed.

    Note they seldom remove the whole disk unless it is replaced with something to fill the space such as bone or other options.

    Anyway the first fusion failed.

    Second time 6 years later after too much pain and complications from the failed attempt they put in instrumentation, Rods-n-bolts from L4-S1 to bridge the problems at L5.
    This one worked and I was back on the MC in just over a month for short rides. Bicycles took longer. The Doc's never restricted me beyond the amount of time I could sit up or walk vs laying down to limit the stress on the fusions in the first six months or so. Sitting for long periods over 15 minutes or so as a big no-no.

    Total Recovery time for a fusion varies with age & other factors but I was told to expect Six Months both times for the fusion part with a Year for the Instrumentation to set up fully.

    Have a detailed discussion with your Neuro & Ortho that will be doing the work and insist on a plan or plans of action which may change when they get a better look in the OR.

    Good luck.


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    Never had it done but you will recover and be able to ride. As an RN I've read tons of charts where people have had this kind of thing done and they usually do well.
    Now, not to be harsh or anything, but get your medical advice from your doctor, not the internet. What applies to someone else isn't necessarily the same as you. You do not want to screw yourself up worse by trying to rush things.
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    I have S1-L5-L4-L3 roded and screwed, and discs removed and bone grafted.

    My surgery was rough. I would not have ridden a bike for a year, I was scared.

    Note that they will make you get up and walk the day after the surgery.

    My main regret is that I was scared to use donor bone for the graft portion. They took a plate of bone from inside my pelvis, and that site was excruciatingly painful, at least as bad as the surgery. I would always take the donor bone in the future.

    My time to where the general dull pain was 90% gone was two years. But nothing acute since. That was 2002.

    PS, it will help to be married! You will need some legs and arms for a couple of weeks after the surgery.
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    If your first doc is an orthopedic surgeon then get a second opinion from a neurosurgeon. Techniques may be slightly different as some neurosurgeons don't use a bone graft but a synthetic material. Also find out if the surgeon will go in from the front or back. Much longer recovery time if they go in through your gut. Double check how many they have done. No substitute for experience.

    Pete

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    [QUOTE=Cherokee82050;2946486]About 4 years ago my wife had C5-C6 which is the cervical (neck) area. she was back on her bike at 8 weeks. Just recently she had L5-S1 done and she was back on her bike in 6 weeks. The main thing is stick to your physical theropy and don't slack off.[/QUOTE]

    Very TRUE!!!!

    L4-L5 done with Post Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF). That procedure is the insertion of two titanium cages on each side of the spine centered on the disc. Had it done 6 years ago when I was 50. Semi down time was approximately 30 days and wore the turtle shell. Not bad though. Still there are days that I have a stiff or tired back. Would figure to not ride for 60-90 days at least. Doc will advise and you will know when you are ready. Takes time to build up the confidence that you aren't going to break yourself. Good luck!!!

    Oh yea, the graft was taken from my own bone when they drilled for the cages. Ground up the bone and used a "fertilizer" then stuffed the "bone mud" inside the cage. My Doc was a Neurosurgeon...
    Last edited by jhughes556; 07-20-2010 at 02:01 PM.

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    Seasoned Member viatornado's Avatar
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    so far so good!
    I knew this would be a good place to seek info. The surgon I saw was a spinal surgon ( ortho ) I do plan on seeing a nero surgon and hope to remember my notes!

    the ortho told me recovery time would be a year and it was possible I might not return to work. so many things about that Doc. I did not like and would not consider him for my surgery.

    I am fortunate that I have good insurance, and will have short term disability compensation, but with the info the doc gave me I was worried I would have to sell the wing just because I couldnt see it sitting in the garage begging me to play, I know I wouldn't be able to fight the temptations for long.

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    I HAD THIS DONE . NO FUSION FOR ME . I WAS ON THE BIKE IN 6 WEEKS
    http://www.zimmer.com/z/ctl/op/globa...63/template/IN

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    Default back surgery

    I had L2 L3 fused 2 years ago
    back to work in 7 weeks back on the bike in 9 weeks

    do those exersizes the doc gives you!!!!!!!!!!

    every thing will work out

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    Quote Originally Posted by stuna View Post
    I HAD THIS DONE . NO FUSION FOR ME . I WAS ON THE BIKE IN 6 WEEKS
    http://www.zimmer.com/z/ctl/op/globa...63/template/IN
    I contacted the center that comes up with that link in W. Reading Pa,. Not one of the doctors listed has worked for that center for a long time, the MD listed that did complex spine surgery has not been there for five years. I asked how many procedures they do like this, the woman said maybe one or two a year. I was anticipating making an appointment for a consult, but not after those comments. Looks like a promising treatment however.

    I have another two weeks to wait for my fifth consult. The first four fell through the cracks so to speak and I ended up with people I do not feel were the qualified to make this kind of decision. They either felt there was nothing they could do, or said there was nothing wrong. Five MRI's later, that is anything but the case. Even after 18 MRI's, I had no idea how bad it was until the last one, at which point I attempted to take some pics of the film while it was on their viewing screen, and the tech asked when my neck had been fused. That, had not been operated on.

    Been looking for the right surgeon/MD for almost 22 months and living on OxyC just to exist. No disc at L5 for years, last back surgery was in 1987. Cracked my spine again in Oct 2008, hitting a pot hole with the MC. It is believed I fractured a vertabra at T8, bulged a couple of discs and left me with impinged nerves between T8-T11.

    My pain MD does nothing but write scripts. His brother, supposedly a spine pain specialist recommended the DRX9000, took all of about 3 minutes looking at only one of maybe 80 or so MRI films and stated no disc there, we can try to stretch the spine. Six weeks and $5k+ later, it had not worked, and I never even saw the guy after the initial consult. What a racket.

    I hope the next consult goes much better and possibly opt for either an artificial disc or fuse the spine. Something needs to be done, sooner than later.

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    Seasoned Member Max McAllister's Avatar
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    Viatornado...

    Try and take the average... while no one wants to be down and out, I typically prefer conservative estimates for recovery so you can realistically plan your life. Choosing the guy who is overly optimistic could lead to major disappointment.

    Yechave,

    My surgery was performed by Plas T. James at the Atlanta Spine Institute. He is the surgeon for Atlanta's major sports teams.

    He had dropped out of the insurance group (like most qualified doctors have had to) because insurance wasn't paying. His name just happened to still be in my book.

    He believes you should be able to choose the doctor you want. He still accepted me as a patient, performed the surgery (7 hours for me), and took the payment offered by my insurer... around 52% of his bill. He internally wrote the rest off within his practice.

    He was thorough and professional, and.... he made it so I didn't want to shoot myself from pain anymore!

    I was about 35 at the time of my surgery.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max McAllister View Post
    Viatornado...

    Try and take the average... while no one wants to be down and out, I typically prefer conservative estimates for recovery so you can realistically plan your life. Choosing the guy who is overly optimistic could lead to major disappointment.

    Yechave,

    My surgery was performed by Plas T. James at the Atlanta Spine Institute. He is the surgeon for Atlanta's major sports teams.

    He had dropped out of the insurance group (like most qualified doctors have had to) because insurance wasn't paying. His name just happened to still be in my book.

    He believes you should be able to choose the doctor you want. He still accepted me as a patient, performed the surgery (7 hours for me), and took the payment offered by my insurer... around 52% of his bill. He internally wrote the rest off within his practice.

    He was thorough and professional, and.... he made it so I didn't want to shoot myself from pain anymore!

    I was about 35 at the time of my surgery.

    Wow, I know that feeling all too well. Damn nice of your surgeon to accept that payment. I can't find anyone to even accept the 80% paid by Medicare. At 54, I am ready to go if that's what comes of it all. Been there, done everything I wanted. I certainly can not continue to exist like this anymore. That looked like a really interesting way to address the problem. Interestingly, the most relief I get is sitting on the Wing. I have a $3k zero gravity recliner that is not as comfy as the OEM seat using the Walmart cushion with an inner tube inside it.

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    Seasoned Member viatornado's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yechave View Post
    I contacted the center that comes up with that link in W. Reading Pa,. Not one of the doctors listed has worked for that center for a long time, the MD listed that did complex spine surgery has not been there for five years. I asked how many procedures they do like this, the woman said maybe one or two a year. I was anticipating making an appointment for a consult, but not after those comments. Looks like a promising treatment however.

    I have another two weeks to wait for my fifth consult. The first four fell through the cracks so to speak and I ended up with people I do not feel were the qualified to make this kind of decision. They either felt there was nothing they could do, or said there was nothing wrong. Five MRI's later, that is anything but the case. Even after 18 MRI's, I had no idea how bad it was until the last one, at which point I attempted to take some pics of the film while it was on their viewing screen, and the tech asked when my neck had been fused. That, had not been operated on.

    Been looking for the right surgeon/MD for almost 22 months and living on OxyC just to exist. No disc at L5 for years, last back surgery was in 1987. Cracked my spine again in Oct 2008, hitting a pot hole with the MC. It is believed I fractured a vertabra at T8, bulged a couple of discs and left me with impinged nerves between T8-T11.

    My pain MD does nothing but write scripts. His brother, supposedly a spine pain specialist recommended the DRX9000, took all of about 3 minutes looking at only one of maybe 80 or so MRI films and stated no disc there, we can try to stretch the spine. Six weeks and $5k+ later, it had not worked, and I never even saw the guy after the initial consult. What a racket.

    I hope the next consult goes much better and possibly opt for either an artificial disc or fuse the spine. Something needs to be done, sooner than later.



    "after 18 MRI's"


    I have had a couple over the years but I get copies of mine and bring the cd to the Doc with me, a couple docs have said they wanted new ones and I told them that they could use mine or I could find a different doc, I have good ins. but there is no reason to waste money

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    Third back surgery consult yesterday did not go well, but at least the guy seemed to be much more qualified than the first two. Not only did he not have an answer, he came up with unrelated problems, which I doubt I will even look into.

    Their office had initially requested an MRI no older than six months just to get an appointment, which I refused after 18 previous MRI's, 10 hrs of surgery, and being partially paralyzed from an MRI in 2006 when they used the Magnevist contrast agent that supposedly had no adverse reactions to be concerned about, which is why they pay their PR liars so damn much.

    I said they either use the last four MRI's from 09, or cancel the appointment. They didn't hesitate to schedule the appointment.

    Apparently with the seven women I saw sitting around the office doing absolutely nothing, someone needs to raise the money to pay their salaries. No wonder they do not accept Medicare as payment in full.

    They first sent, IMO, an unqualified 20 something young lady that you could tell knew way too little to even question my decades of complex medical issues and was just as quickly to sent her back to where ever it was she came from. I had provided ALL the intake and relevant medical information in my possession from neck surgery just three days prior, which after not being good enough for her, ended her visit with me rather promptly.

    After an exam by a PA which only an Indy 500 pit crew could appreciate, the man told me he felt there was nothing they could do for the back pain, surgery might help the leg and foot pain, nothing would relieve the L5 and thoracic pain or fused neck and he suggested having my ARMS tested.......

    Not to waste any more time explaining the last 22 months of wasted time, excruciating pain and suffering, I will suggest this ends my 22 month search for some kind of relief to ease the impinged nerves in my spine.

    I am now putting my time and resources into a new product called ASEA. There are videos and links to be found if anyone is interested. IF, it does anything positive at all, I will post on it in a couple of months.

    In the mean time, I am HOPING someone from HONDA investigates the ECU claim of fixing the erratic downshifting issue into third, and hope I/we get to ride the bike on a decent trip before it has to be sold, with everything functioning the way it was intended to be ridden.

    If someone can e-mail me at yechave@ptd.net, with more specific info on that ECU module, I would GREATLY APPRECIATE IT! Are there years they can not be interchanged on the bikes? I have the 06 comfort package. If you worked with a dealer and had your problem solved, that would really be helpful trying to get this fixed under warranty.

    I have to wonder if it were not for the collective knowledge base of all the forum members on Honda and BMW, if the dealerships would have closed due to lack of knowledge and not knowing how to fix the problems with their flagship MC's?

    Thanks in advance!

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    Seasoned Member Bob W's Avatar
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    Listen to your doctor. I am surrounded here at work with many people with similar injuries as yours. Their recoveries all depended on the individual. Some never seem to recover. I was injured about 20 years ago in a roll over car accident. I went to see one MD after about 10 weeks because I was still having some nerve pain in my shoulder. He reminded me I had just gone through a major trauma. He said that it needed time to heal. He said that when the scar from my incisions began to fade I would then be finally be healing. He said it would probably take a year. It took that long. That didn't mean I was laid up for a year but it took that long to heal completely. My only advise be patient and listen to your doctors.



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    L5 - S1 Laminectomy back in May 1985 here. I know the disc is gone and the L5 - L4 is degenerating. I have off and on looked at the newer disc replacements that have so much success in Europe. The CHARITÉ Artificial Disc looks promising if I was young enough. Like you, one doc says ok to do, another says it would not help. Thankfully I have been doing the dr recommended exercises every morning, while the coffee is brewing, since May 1985!!! No real problems because the base is strong and holding the spine in place. Once I do really need something done, perhaps we would have perfected a replacement procedure here in the US.

    My advise is to get opinions from here, from docs, from other back surgery folks in your community and then look for forums on back pain. All the best in your decision...

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    I hope that it is better for you than you think. I would get at least two more opinions before any surgery. They told me the same thing from two different surgeons. Third one did the work, no fusion and riding again in two months.
    Lumbar laminectomy, disk decompression, synovial cyst removal, bone chips removed and arthritis cleaned up, L4-L5 & L5-s1.
    Good luck
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    I broke my back in 1997. I had a compression fracture and chipped 2 other vertebraes.
    I had to learn to walk again.
    When they fused the vertebrae they installed Harrington rods on each side of my spine to prevent me from moving the back until the fusing took hold. The rods were in my back for 1 year. I was able to ride my bike approx. 8 months after the surgery with the rods in my back.
    I hope you could be on the bike in no time at all.

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    I have researched Lumbar Fusion extensively. Had my first 4 years ago and it should have been 2 levels instead of one. NOW, I'm heading back in for the other. (06 was L5-S1) and now (L4-L5 has ruptured and needs fusion).

    You've received several answers to your direct question here. Most of them are wrong.

    It all depends on what you have done, the type of procedure, number of levels, etc.

    You are right on if you schedule your surgery for the Fall and recover during the winter months. Generally speaking you will be completely fused in 6 months and that is just in time for Spring riding.

    But you have to watch healing progress with x-rays. Some of these don't fuse and you can't place an arbitrary time. It is usually 2 weeks until you begin PT, then in about 6 weeks you are in pretty good shape. But the all important actual bone fusion takes a good solid 6 months. You will feel fine and think riding will be no problem, HOWEVER, IF you were to take even a small fall you can fracture the delicate healing bone and at best your healing time frame will start over, and at worst you will have to re-do the surgery.

    So as a general rule SIX MONTHS is correct. Again depending on many factors.

    I agree that you should have several opinions (I interviewed 5 Surgeons before I chose and even got an opinion from the head of spine surgery at Johns Hopkins). The surgeon I picked was a younger guy on the leading edge. He has invented much of the instrumentation used in the TLIF procedure. He took 1 1/2 hours with me at the first appointment and was very excited that I was so interested in the whole process. He went into his office, got all the models, instruments and went through the process. Even gave me an instructional DVD of the surgery for me to watch. HE Got The Job!

    IMHO it has everything to do with the surgeon and the procedure used. And that has to do with your type of injury.

    This will get too long so I'll stop. If you have any specific questions PM me. I'll attach my "family photos" of my spine.

    I had mine done at Swedish Medical in Denver and they kept me completely out of pain both in the hospital and in recovery at home.

    I was very pleased with the way process worked and I healed exactly on schedule. 6 months and had a complete boney fusion. That is the trigger for normal activity! Not any arbitrary date!

    Google: Minimally Invasive TLIF and you will see the latest procedure. If no one in Omaha does this, I'd go where it is done. This is the leading edge as of today.

    BTW: the Dynesys is not recommended by most surgeons - it is seen as a fad. Remember moving or stretching parts "break". It is also not a rigid fixation which is what "cures" the problem.

    Artificial discs are only indicated in some cases.

    Today FUSION is the gold standard for ruptured discs and other congenital issues like spondylolesthesis etc.

    The anterior approach is also now falling out of favor as they can do the same work from the back and it is SO much less invasive.

    Good Luck. I'm right there with you early November. First photo is my first L5-S-1 fusion, and second is my prolapsed disc above the fusion L4-L5 that will be fused in November.
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  28. #27
    Seasoned Member RDOUGHE963's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yechave View Post
    I contacted the center that comes up with that link in W. Reading Pa,. Not one of the doctors listed has worked for that center for a long time, the MD listed that did complex spine surgery has not been there for five years. I asked how many procedures they do like this, the woman said maybe one or two a year. I was anticipating making an appointment for a consult, but not after those comments. Looks like a promising treatment however.

    I have another two weeks to wait for my fifth consult. The first four fell through the cracks so to speak and I ended up with people I do not feel were the qualified to make this kind of decision. They either felt there was nothing they could do, or said there was nothing wrong. Five MRI's later, that is anything but the case. Even after 18 MRI's, I had no idea how bad it was until the last one, at which point I attempted to take some pics of the film while it was on their viewing screen, and the tech asked when my neck had been fused. That, had not been operated on.

    Been looking for the right surgeon/MD for almost 22 months and living on OxyC just to exist. No disc at L5 for years, last back surgery was in 1987. Cracked my spine again in Oct 2008, hitting a pot hole with the MC. It is believed I fractured a vertabra at T8, bulged a couple of discs and left me with impinged nerves between T8-T11.

    My pain MD does nothing but write scripts. His brother, supposedly a spine pain specialist recommended the DRX9000, took all of about 3 minutes looking at only one of maybe 80 or so MRI films and stated no disc there, we can try to stretch the spine. Six weeks and $5k+ later, it had not worked, and I never even saw the guy after the initial consult. What a racket.

    I hope the next consult goes much better and possibly opt for either an artificial disc or fuse the spine. Something needs to be done, sooner than later.

    very simple answer, GO TO PHILLY UNIVERSITY OF PENN NEURSURGERY





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  29. #28
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    Dr jim, Your first pic looks like mine! I fell down 6 icy steps in Feb 2003 and completely obliterated the disc between L5 and S1. support bone was putting pressure on the nerves to my legs. I was 48 years of age, and weighed 213 lbs. , was walking 1.5 miles a day and in good shape. First consultation Doc said hospital stay = 4 - 7 days, could be up to 6-8 weeks out of work. 12 hours after surgery I was walking the whole 4th flr of North Fla Regional, discharged from hospital was less than 48 hours after surgery, back to work 3 weeks later on light duty. before I was discharged, I asked the Doc. When can I get back on the wing? His reply was...give it at least 6 months....and I did to the day.

    Recovery is up to the individual, and do what the Dr tells you...Good luck
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  30. #29
    Seasoned Member rodie1200's Avatar
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    I feel your pain. I just had a block last week due to a bad L4-L5. Not looking at surgery yet but still is bad enough to have the block done. Lucky for me, so for it has done away with the awful pain I was having in my hips and got rid of 70% of the back pain.
    I pray you find a solution to your problem soon. I know you are hurting but take your time and research all the info you can and find a surgeon that can do the job right.
    I wish you all the best, hang in there the right person for the job is out there.
    Again, best of luck to you.

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  31. #30
    Seasoned Member finleypj's Avatar
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    Default From one Husker to another

    Quote Originally Posted by viatornado View Post
    I am depressed. I went to see a surgon and he said what I did not want to hear. he said two discs need to be removed and fuse the vertebrae together.

    I was a little out of sorts, even though I knew before going in and half the questions I had just never got asked. I know I have read other posts regarding back problems so I thought this would be a beter source of info.

    Here is the bike related part:

    How long before I will be able to ride again?

    I have only talked to one other rider and he said two years for him!

    I don't think I am a slow healer although I have nothing to comair this to. I have never even broke a bone.

    I am 49 yrs old, a carpenter by trade I am not over weight, I'd say execpt for my back I am in good shape.

    If it will be a long recovery time I will be forced to sell my wing, I have had it a year, still three years to pay on it.

    who has had the fusion and how long before you could ride again???

    thanks



    Ken
    I had L-4/L-5/S-1 done; I felt so damn good after surgery that the hardest part was staying in slug mode as my doctor recommended. Depending on your recovery and the progress you make the post surgical time will vary. If it is a fusion using bone graft then it will take at least four weeks for the bone to heal; if it is done with rods and pins then it could be less. Again after working in Orthopedics for 14 years and having my own back done I can tell you the only real answer is between you and your doctor. I rode 14 days after my surgery to my post op appt! I have no regrets having the surgery, for the first time in 20 years I was pain free! I did not know just how bad it was till after my surgery. So from one fellow HUSKER to another good luck.

    MIA SAN ​WELTMEISTER

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