Off the Bike - Back Surgery

Discussion in 'Crash Confessions' started by Ebruner, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    I had a crash many years ago that either caused, or caused me to notice existing herniations of my L4-L5 and L5-S1 discs. This happened in 2010 and the last 7 years have been about pain management, strength training and recovery.

    Flash forward to last year and I'm feeling stronger then I ever have and in better shape then I have been in since I was in college. My bad back is mostly under control. It manifests itself with stiffness on longer rides and then I throw it out 3-4 time s a year. Fortunately for me, nearly all of my back pain was localized to my low back and I had zero sciatic issues.That is... until last 2 weeks ago.

    I rode both days on the weekend... did maple motorway on saturday and felt fine, and then did a quick 60 minute ride at oaks on sunday. When I got home Sunday I felt ok. Not great, a bit of stiffness in my low back which is typical. I also had some odd numbness in my foot, but I didn't think anything of it. Some times my foot will go numb while riding and it just goes away by the time I get off the bike.

    Well sunday I digressed into intense sciatic pain in my right leg. By Sunday night I could barely walk and I could barely control my right leg. The pain was intense.

    Well... I just got my MRI and it shows that my L5-S1 disc has torn and a piece of the disc is now occupying the space that my Sciatic nerve needs to operate. The pain has gotten better, but I have no strength in my right leg. I cannot lift myself up on my toes with that leg and my press up with my foot is also week.

    My doctor is suggesting rather immediate discectomy to try and recover the nerve. He cannot guarentee that I will regain strength in my right leg. He can say with certainty that it if we operate, it will not worsen. However there is only about a 60-70% chance that I regain any strength in my right leg. Even then, he's fairly certain it will never be full strength.

    Needless to say, I'm bummed, terrified, furious... just about every emotion you can have. Fortunately I'm good shape so the surgery should be easy... but it will result in a chance to ride a bike again at some level of effectiveness.

    I need to find a way to stay positive, and fight to get back on the bike. I'm going to be crushed if this is the end of my cycling career.
     
  2. littlewave

    littlewave Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Newport Beach
    Name:
    Brett
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley LS
    Probably warrants a second and third opinion.
     
  3. mike

    mike MTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Stay cool, Erik, and get some other advice if you can, as Brett said.

    Not to sound conciliatory, but cycling is done by people with all manner of disability. It may suck, but unless you're a teenager, diminishing capabilities are the price of participation in an active life. I'm a living example of injuries and conditions changing the course of a person's recreation. Bro, it's just another challenge. Get the best care you can, but tune your mind to appreciating and maximizing what you can do.

    Take is easy; we're behind you. Or in front of you. Best wishes getting wrenched up!
     
    MolarM, Faust29, Cornholio and 6 others like this.
  4. pperrelle

    pperrelle Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Tustin
    Name:
    Paul
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley V3, Ibis Tranny
    Dooood, so bummed to read this! Back pain can be a bitch. Joe(the guys bike that you carried down from Old Camp) had some pretty bad back issues that he had to have surgery for. I can connect you two if you want to trade some notes on surgery, recovery, etc. As you know, he is back on the bike. You're just down the street, shoot me a note if you ever need help with anything.
     
  5. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors MTB Addict

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    Really sorry to hear this. With nerves, unfortunately, you can't wait very long. I hope everything works out as well as it can, and you can get back out there.
     
    Faust29, mike, Mikie and 2 others like this.
  6. knucklebuster

    knucklebuster Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mission Viejo (South Orange County)
    Name:
    Dave
    Current Bike:
    Canfield The One '12
    That really sucks Erik. Keep your head up and you have to stay positive that you'll get on the bike again, even though you'll have allot of work to do it. @mike says it pretty good though, we are in a high risk sport, it's not gonna last forever, we have to adapt and make the best of things, enjoy while we can. I've been on the glide slope for the last 6 months and have had trouble dealing with it, but I gotta keep getting out there no matter how slow and sore I am after. Good luck and yes, get more opinions!
     
    Faust29, mike, Mikie and 3 others like this.
  7. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    Erik,

    That really sucks. Hope it works out and you heal to your expectations.
     
    Faust29, mike, Mikie and 2 others like this.
  8. siata94

    siata94 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    lake forest
    Name:
    siata
    Current Bike:
    lazy goat
    just a data point... but a friend, at 60, who couldn't walk upright with numb legs for many years. 6 months ago he went in, 6 hours of surgery each for 2 days in a row,
    I saw him after the 2nd day, 2 plates and 6 screws later, and he was already walking around the hallway to show off his gown to the nurses. He said then that he can finally feel his feet pain free.

    Hope for the best.
     
    Faust29, Ebruner, mike and 3 others like this.
  9. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Nooooo!
    Erik,
    Hang in there bud. I too suggest the 2nd and 3rd opinions. Sports specialist would be my direction. I know it's going to work out for you. Mountain Bikers are tough ass people. You are tough as nails, man.
    You are going to get through this and we will be your cheerleaders dude.
    Keep us posted.... and if you need anything, holler!

    Mikie
     
    Faust29, Ebruner, mike and 4 others like this.
  10. herzalot

    herzalot MTB Addict

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Erik - you've got this!
    BUT - get a couple of procedural options. There may be more than one way to skin this cat. Oh crap - bad reference...To remove the disc fragment.
     
    Faust29, Ebruner, mike and 2 others like this.
  11. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Thanks for the encouraging words guys. I'm in the process of setting up second opinions. It's an oddly confusing and scary time for me... it seems like a damned if I do, and damned if I don't situation. What's messing with me most is the uncertainty. It seems like the strength might slowly be creeping back into my right foot. I'm not sure if that means I should let sleeping dogs lie, or if that means I should operate now with a better chance at full recovery and burying this issue face down. Sigh... there is very little definitive information out there.

    I'll definitely post updates as I work through this process.
     
  12. Cornholio

    Cornholio MTB Addict

    Location:
    Not smelLA
    Name:
    B
    Just saw this thread for the first time.. Healing vibes and you'll be on your bike no matter what in the end. I've had my fair share of medical issues and sometimes the worrying is the worst part and can do a lot of harm to the existing problem. It's tough to do but having a positive spin on things does make a difference, you only have so much you can control. Hang in there and get back out there soon!
     
  13. Fijirob

    Fijirob Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ladera Ranch
    Name:
    Rob
    Erik - Definitely get a 2nd and 3rd opinion. I had back surgery 8 years ago from a ruptured disc in the exact same location that is affecting you. I also had the exact same symptoms prior to surgery. Fortunately for me (or unfortunately on how you look at it), I did not experience 7 years of dealing with it. I blew it out to the point my entire right leg was literally dead. It hurt, all the nerves in my leg were firing like it was 4th of July, I could not stand on my tippy toes, I had no reflexes in the knee (you know, when the doc taps your nerves below your knee and your leg bounces up? Well, my leg didn't move a bit) and so on. I was in serious pain, just like you. I had an amazing surgeon who performed the surgery and during my recovery is when I started mountain biking again. Mountain biking was my savior and allowed me to regain all my strength back...and then some. About 18 months post op I was golfing and water skiing again (yeah, the worst things for your back LOL). Hell, I even did Counting Coup a few years ago.

    So please get another opinion. I would be happy to recommend my surgeon, Dr. Michael Kropf, he was in Orange County but has moved on to UCLA. I would not hesitate to drive to his LA office no matter where I lived, he was that good.

    There is hope, if you are in the right hands.

    --Rob
     
  14. mike

    mike MTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Keep cool, Erik. Stay positive, too. Your body is capable of amazing things, and ultimately it wants to correct itself. I would give some credence to your intuition, and keep a healthy skepticism of a rush to surgery. Many examples of surgeries with negligible results.

    Do you work sitting in a chair? Could be an opportunity to improve conditions. Other thoughts... Directly ice regularly. Staying super hydrated. Ride full suspension only. Incorporate some light indoor climbing. Anti-inflammatories – is a cox2 inhibitor like Vioxx or Celebrex a beneficial anti-inflam. for you? (Read: is your condition exacerbated by swelling?). Wear a back brace like a MX kidney belt when you need it (note: said belt is a nice way to hold a freezer gel pack to your back; pull out shirt out and go stealth.) Don't scrimp on boffing your lady. (I'm serious.) Plus the other things that can help ease compensatory muscular strain and tightness: Heat, massage, electro-stim, ultrasound/analgesic gel, light stretching, meditation, relaxing, avoiding stressful situations, avoiding stimulants.

    I've dealt with a bulging L5 for decades; no sciatica, but can be debilitating. What I mention are no cures for a dire condition, just things that have helped me keep in good back health. It's been really good overall the last fifteen years. I can get in trouble from riding too hard – mostly from the dehydration.

    Best wishes, pal!
     
    Faust29, mtnbikej, herzalot and 2 others like this.
  15. Faust29

    Faust29 MTB Addict

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Dead Highball
    Erik- The others have already stressed the need for a 2nd and 3rd opinion before you make any choices. I'd just like to add that we're thinking about you. Hang in there, and we'll see you on the trails again soon.
     
    mtnbikej, kioti, Fijirob and 2 others like this.
  16. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer MTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    Healing vibes to you. Positive thoughts is proven mental medicine that can help you heal. Stay positive. :thumbsup:
     
  17. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Wow, that info is a real up-lifter for me. Did you have a spinal fusion or did you have a discectomy?
     
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  18. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Some good info here. I did recently just start spending way more time on a hard tail and I've been wondering if that was a contributing factor to this whole thing. I do have a sitting prone job, but I have a varidesk standing desk that I use liberally. I've never tried a cox2 inhibitor but i would definitely be down to try.

    I'm generally very good about stretching, rolling out and Ice. I ice my back every night when I get in bed for 30-60 minutes. I definitely think I could/should do a few things better then I do, for example stretching during rides.
     
    Faust29 likes this.
  19. Fijirob

    Fijirob Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ladera Ranch
    Name:
    Rob
    I had a microdiscectomy. Don't get me wrong, the first few months after surgery were a rough road to recovery (however I did get out of a lot of diaper changes for my son LOL). Even after a year or so certain back movements were scary and felt like it was going to unravel, but then by 18 months I was pretty much fully recovered. I had some good and bad days for about 24 months after surgery, but nothing crazy and I still carried on with my sports and activities. Now I don't even think about it anymore, I can literally do anything I want at full throttle.

    Some may tell you no way to surgery, but what I learned from my doc is if you are at a point of no return and your leg is as dead as mine, then surgery might be the only option. Mine was blown apart so bad, I really had no other options. Obviously I don't know how bad your situation is, but if it is similar I would get another opinion or two.
     
  20. mike

    mike MTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Maybe no way to say for sure, but our trails here, even the smooth ones, are rough or have steps.

    I had to stop mountain biking completely in the 90s. It got so that one ride would ruin me for many days. Years later I got a FS and have had only the odd flare-up. Last year during the brief time I rode my El Mariachi HT on the trails around here, my back let me know that was not okay. I know it makes a difference for me. I can gravel grind all day, but a seat jackhammering my spine doesn't work for me. FWIW.
     
  21. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    Location:
    pearl harbor
    Name:
    cagey
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    heal up dude
     
  22. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Well... Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday. I've been feeling better. I got 2 second opinions from doctors that are supposedly two of the best neurosurgeon and ortho surgeons in orange county and they all agreed that a microdistectomy is the right course of action.

    The pain has largely subsided, but I'm still dealing with weakness. I can lift myself up onto my toes on my right leg but only once or twice in succession then I need to take a short 10-15 second break and I can squeeze out another time or two. I still have muscle tightness, random spasms and cramp like feelings randomly in my legs.

    I've actually been able to get out and ride a few times, but at a much reduced capacity. I was able to take part in the path bike shop, race team photo shoot... which was cool because I got a cool shot of myself. (see below).
    CTC18722_zpslgudojf5.jpg

    At any rate, it looks like it'll be 30 days of actual downtime where I can't ride or do PT. Then it will be 30 days of PT and I can start to ride a stationary bike some time in that window. The hope is being able to get back on a road bike or at the least an upright bike around day 60. The doc says I could potentially go back to normal activities on day 90, but I think I'll be giving it some additional time until I throw a leg over a mtb in anger. I'm looking at some where around 5-6 months off of a mtb.

    So... enough pity party... Onto the fun part of this. Since I'm a bike addict... I felt like this story/recovery needed a new set of wheels to help stoke the fires. I wanted something that is upright and can pull commuter duties. I plan on doing some bike commuting in order to help expedite my recovery later this year. I found this 2013 Kona Dew DL on CL for a song and acted quickly to scoop it up. It will, of course, get some upgrades; Deore hydro brakes, 10 speed XT drivetrain, 2x front drive train etc). It's actually an epic bike, think of it like a beach cruiser that's actually awesome to ride.
    IMG_0912_zpszb4snqtc.jpg
     
  23. Faust29

    Faust29 MTB Addict

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Dead Highball
    Follow the doc's instructions, listen to your body, and we'll see you out there again soon enough... And keep us posted. :thumbsup:

    That Kona has potential...
     
  24. Poofighter

    Poofighter Well-Known Member

    Location:
    OC
    Name:
    Noel
    Current Bike:
    Shortboy
    Good luck with the surgery and hoping for a speedy recovery. I have grade 2 spondylolisthesis of L5-S1, but no pain near what you and @Fijirob have, so I will paying close attention on your results.

    BTW what car is under wraps?
     
  25. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS
    Glad to hear that all the opinions you get r had the same result. Sounds like you are on the right path.

    On the positive side, temporary time off the bike for long term health is good. In the overall picture it will only be but a small speed bump.

    Good luck and listen to what the PT peeps say.
     
    Runs with Scissors likes this.
  26. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    That car started life as a 99 mazda miata. It's been built up for various competition series over the years. It's a hoot to drive and turns laptimes comparable to a c5 z06, modified s2k etc. It is my other mistress... tbh it makes mountain bikes look cheap as hell.

    In it's current state it has:
    190whp - 2100lbs - 9" Hoosier R7 Slicks
    Self built engine, self tuned, etc etc
    Custom dampers, valving etc
    Full Cage, Fire Suppression, Driver Cooling etc
    And an metric assload of custom fabricated parts, sweat equity and lost hours and dollars of my life.

    These photo's are a bit old and out-dated, but you get the idea.
    15163346716_62573f791f_c.jpg

    14999806918_6954a685ea_c.jpg
     
  27. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Thanks for the positive vibes guys. I'll be sure to update the thread as I won't exactly have much else to do anyway. I plan on taking my time with the recovery and coming back stronger then before! :devilish:
     
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  28. rossage

    rossage MTB Addict

    Location:
    East Sacramento
    Name:
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    Highball
    I've been following your saga as lately I have been having sciatic pain-but nowhere near as severe as yours. I just had an exam and x-rays and luckily I have no permanent damage. Dr. says I'm just getting old and leave the heavy lifting to the younger guys. Guess it's time to get a lighter bike! I'm scheduled for some PT but no surgery or time off the bike. Funny how things started to get better after I quit my job...
    Best of luck with your surgery and recovery.
     
  29. Ebruner

    Ebruner Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Erik Bruner
    Current Bike:
    SC Hightower, Kona Hei Hei
    Sciatic pain is no joke. I've had back pain for years and was largely able to just shrug it off and deal with it. The saving grace about back pain is that you can typically find a position that provides some or full relief for the pain. Yes it's a pain in the butt (or back) to have to lay there with your legs elevated on the couch or coffee table icing your back, but there is relief there.

    Sciatic pain on the other hand, you cannot run from. Once it gets really bad, there is no position you can find that makes it go away and makes you comfortable. It's honestly maddening and can really start to eat away at your psyche.

    If I have one suggestion to give, it's take the time with your PT to verify your muscle firing order. If you do closed loop exersizes (exersizes that isolate and only work muscle groups one at a time or alone) you'll be able to determine if you are engaging your muscles in the proper order and at the right time. I'm convinced that for a long time I've had a very mash the pedals type of riding style. Lately I've been working on pedal stroke programs that smooth it out and engage the other supporting muscles more. Part of me feels like what lead to this was over strengthened quads and calves and under utilized hamstrings, glutes and low back muscles. I feel like maybe what exacerbated this for me, was pushing too hard too fast with my new fluid and fully engaged pedal stroke with muscle groups that weren't ready for that much work load.

    The PT's will be able to help you isolate these muscle groups and give you exersizes that can re-set your firing order. This is going to be the biggest part of my time off the bike. I need to slow down and re-learn the bio-mechanics that got me into this position in the first place.
     
  30. Fijirob

    Fijirob Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Ladera Ranch
    Name:
    Rob
    Prayers for a successful surgery and rehabilitation! Like others have said, take it easy and don't be in a hurry to get back to all activities too quickly. Remember that recovery is a marathon and not a sprint so listen to your body. You'll have good days and bad, so take it easy and fully recover. After 90 days post op, I still had stiffness and certain movements would cause major discomfort and pain if I was in a certain position, kinda like there was a black hole where I lost all control of my back (it's hard to describe other than it felt like my back was free falling for a split second where I had no control of movement).

    The best feeling will be getting out of surgery and being able to feel your toes and leg function again!!! If you have any questions feel free to PM me.
     
    Runs with Scissors and mtnbikej like this.
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