spinal fusion and return to surfing

oxrox's picture
oxrox started the topic in Thursday, 31 Mar 2022 at 9:48am

I'm unfortunately booked in for spinal fusion L5/S1 in just over a week. Freaking out but have no choice as I have drop foot due to severe compression of my L5 nerve root.
Basically, no surgery and I wont be able to walk properly for the rest of my life. No surfing, my work as a stonemason/ landscaper would be difficult and lot's of things I enjoy would become a chore.
Has anyone had spinal fusion and still surfing at a reasonable level? I`m still surfing shortboards at a good level 5`10 twinny with stabilizer for most days. I`m scared shitless I wont be able to surf as good. I`m no expert on spines but I`m hoping fusion being so low in my back, I will still have the mobility through the rest of my spine to surf ok.

oxrox's picture
oxrox's picture
oxrox Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 9:32am

Just saw and old thread on this. Looks like it wont be too bad.

flow's picture
flow's picture
flow Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 9:43am

Not sure. how old are you ox? I had a laminectomy 14 months ago. I'm back surfing but not properly. I'm still a bit stiff in the lower back from the surgery and my core doesn't feel strong. I'm still fairly positive as I'm still improving and feeling stronger each month. BTW I was 49 when had my op.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 11:02am

All the best with it Oxrox.

Looks like I will avoid the surgical route.

Mine is slowly improving, but it's an arduous journey.

scoopmaster's picture
scoopmaster's picture
scoopmaster Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 11:03am

The lumbar spine doesn't have that much range of movement anyway, most of your ability to bend comes from the thoracic spine (upper back). A single level fusion will obviously be less limiting than a multi -level fusion. I've seen one guy about 20 years older than me and about 6 weeks after a lumbar fusion touch his toes no problem which I've never been able to do. Like any operation there are plenty of good and bad outcomes(mainly i've seen it either fix pain or cause ongoing pain). Have you tried a local anesthetic and steroid injection near that nerve root? It may give short term relief, and at least help confirm that is the location where the problem is (if it's not obvious on CT or MRI scans) .

flow's picture
flow's picture
flow Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 11:29am

Goodluck Ox and sounds good FR.

oxrox's picture
oxrox's picture
oxrox Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 1:03pm

Flow. I'm 59. Spoke to my surgeon again yesterday. He said I shouldn't lose any flexibility or mobility if any would be tiny. Here's hoping. Still scary stuff.
Don`t expect to start surfing ok for 6 months to be truthful. I'm fit, strong and still really flexible which is a good thing for my recovery apparently. Hopefully by next autumn will be close to 100%.
Laminectomy is a fair bit different I think? 14 months seems a long time to still be stiff. At least your progressing and not stalling. That would be hard. Good luck! Like me you probably never thought you would be having major back surgery.

oxrox's picture
oxrox's picture
oxrox Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 1:05pm
freeride76 wrote:

All the best with it Oxrox.

Looks like I will avoid the surgical route.

Mine is slowly improving, but it's an arduous journey.

Thanks Freeride. Avoiding surgery is a good thing. Hope it keeps going well for you.

oxrox's picture
oxrox's picture
oxrox Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 1:10pm
scoopmaster wrote:

The lumbar spine doesn't have that much range of movement anyway, most of your ability to bend comes from the thoracic spine (upper back). A single level fusion will obviously be less limiting than a multi -level fusion. I've seen one guy about 20 years older than me and about 6 weeks after a lumbar fusion touch his toes no problem which I've never been able to do. Like any operation there are plenty of good and bad outcomes(mainly i've seen it either fix pain or cause ongoing pain). Have you tried a local anesthetic and steroid injection near that nerve root? It may give short term relief, and at least help confirm that is the location where the problem is (if it's not obvious on CT or MRI scans) .

Hey Scoop Yeah done all the scans. Have a badly compressed L5 nerve root. Herniation has pretty much taken up all the room where the nerve root leaves the spine. Pain for a couple of weeks with only OTC pain relief was insane. Had a spinal injection which helped so I've cut back on pills which is good. Mine's urgent surgery due to the nerve compression. Needs to be decompressed asap. I have a very good surgeon so hope the outcome is positive.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 1:19pm

My bro broke his back 30 years ago playing rugby and had a spinal fusion back then. He's been living with chronic back and leg pain ever since. He's currently in St. Andrews hospital in Brissie after undergoing a procedure where probes are inserted into the thoracic area of the spine. I think there are a total of 16 overall. The probes then stimulate the nerves via an app. and fine tuned by a technician in concert with his surgeon. The probes are powered by battery in his belt or in the future can be inserted directly into his body and kind of wireless charged.

I spoke to him this morning from his hospital bed and the results are encouraging. He said for the first time in three decades the burning pain in his legs has been replaced with a mild tingling. He said he was embarrassed but he actually cried in front of his surgeon.

The probes will be removed today and all the data analysed and then re-inserted in 6 weeks time in which they should remain there permanently. I'm hopeful for him as he has led a pretty reasonable life but not one minute free from chronic pain.

Anyway, not related too much to the above but thought I'd share.

Good luck with the surgery Ox.

oxrox's picture
oxrox's picture
oxrox Friday, 1 Apr 2022 at 1:32pm
zenagain wrote:

My bro broke his back 30 years ago playing rugby and had a spinal fusion back then. He's been living with chronic back and leg pain ever since. He's currently in St. Andrews hospital in Brissie after undergoing a procedure where probes are inserted into the thoracic area of the spine. I think there are a total of 16 overall. The probes then stimulate the nerves via an app. and fine tuned by a technician in concert with his surgeon. The probes are powered by battery in his belt or in the future can be inserted directly into his body and kind of wireless charged.

I spoke to him this morning from his hospital bed and the results are encouraging. He said for the first time in three decades the burning pain in his legs has been replaced with a mild tingling. He said he was embarrassed but he actually cried in front of his surgeon.

The probes will be removed today and all the data analysed and then re-inserted in 6 weeks time in which they should remain there permanently. I'm hopeful for him as he has led a pretty reasonable life but not one minute free from chronic pain.

Anyway, not related too much to the above but thought I'd share.

Good luck with the surgery Ox.

Thanks Zen.... yeah I feel really sorry for people dealing with chronic pain all the time. Really don't know how they do it. No choice obviously.
A local builder here has nerve pain which feels like someone is permanently grabbing hold of his nuts. Had it for 3 years or more. No solution so far. On strong pain killers daily just to function.
Make's you realize how fortunate you are.