I've had the multi level neck fusion and a lumbar surgery. I've spent more time in the spine clinic that I care to talk about and have a few things to say.
For the neck I had 2 opinions both recommended. If I went to the 1st guy I would be in trouble. I had incredible pain but that is not life or death. When you have extreme weakness and your body functions start to act up you need surgery. It takes about 3 to 4 years for the nerves to regenerate if they are going to. I'm luck most of my upper body started to come back, I just have one area that is still lacking and it just passed the 5 year mark.
I lost dorsal flexion from the lumbar issue. It is not quite 2 years yet and I still have a foot slap but at least it's not a drop foot. It's coming back slowly.
The surgeon operates on people not scans or x-rays. I live in pain all the time but really don't notice it anymore. I have to do rehab forever and limit my time on doing anything. Sitting in front of a computer (I have all egro everything) riding a bike (got a totally custom Serotta and keep to about 2.5 hours-can go more but it will cost me over the next few weeks, can go often and hard,) can't sit on a soft chair or couch (must lye down or have spine at neutral position), car rides (need a support and watch position), flying (take lumbar support and don't go if you can avoid it).
I did physical therapy and finally got injections into the spine. I was in pain all the time, slept in a chair for months with arm and neck propped in perfect position. Couldn't even dial the phone with left hand. Couldn't run or ride bike because I couldn't look up..... It seems that the nerves were really pinched. I'm very strong again on left side (not like the right side), but use different muscles. The surgeon told me that I wasn't ready for surgery and that was good enough for me.
Fitness Minutes: (439) Posts: 3,641 4/24/12 11:43 A
Mine is odd. I have no pain, no numbness, only weakness in my right hand. My pain doctor said stenosis can cause any combination of pain and/or numbness and/or weakness. At first my wife recommended that I avoid cervical surgery as long as possible. I'm not in pain and my hand works well enough for me to do everything. Some things I just can't do as well or for as long as before. After my surgery I may have pain and I could be stuck with it for the rest of my life. What convinced me to go through with it is that this surgery has a 94% success rate and the longer my nerve is pinched the more potential for permanent nerve damage that will not come back. It's Hell getting old but it beats the alternative.
I had C5-6-7 fused. Lost about 80% in right arm and 60% in left. I'm almost 100%. I was on the recumbent on the indoor trainer for a while, they would not let me ride the road bike. After 6 weeks I could ride on the road and use the recumbent on group rides and could keep up, but I hated it. Then after 12 weeks (that is when the fusion becomes totally filled in and pretty solid I went back to the road bike and never looked back. My surgeon is a cyclist and we worked it out. A multi level is more difficult that a single level to deal with. If you send me an inbox I'll give you any info you want and will talk to you on the phone. Good luck
Very interesting - I've been avoiding cervical surgery. Same deal though, 4 herniated discs. Pain and numbness in arms and fingers, can't look up, can't ride my road bike without stretching before I get on, and limited to short rides anyway... Please share experiences. Thanks!
Fitness Minutes: (439) Posts: 3,641 4/23/12 10:20 A
BARRONVC: you had cervical fusion? An MRI a few months ago showed that I have 4 herniated disks in my neck. The only one causing problems is c7-t1 which I'm scheduled to have fused a week from today. How long were you off your bike after surgery? I was told that I would be able to drive a car 14 days after surgery if all goes well.
Great suggestions!! I can't stress enough that you make sure your bike fits you. All the other ideas, moving your hands, shaking them out, gloves, etc are all great, but first get the bike to fit you, and exercise your core to gain strength. I suspect you are putting too much weight on your hands. Simply changing the angle and fore/aft position of the saddle may help you with that.
There are exercises you can do to help this condition. These are the neck and upper body stabilization exercises I was given after my multi level neck fusion. As long as I keep up on these I ride pain free. The over use of the computer and poor posture from unconscious operation can have a very negative effect on your cycling and hand/arm/shoulder/neck pain.
As mentioned, position can make a huge difference.
Do. Get your back flat, engage the core, eliminate upper body movement. Seek a professional.
Don't round your back, don't reach to the bars and round the shoulders, don't lock the elbows.
Often the top tube (frame reach) may be too long. If you feel yourself pushing back to keep your butt on the saddle this needs to be looked at. Bars, stem, bike fit, are something a good LBS can help you with.
Very good comments from all.
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Fitness Minutes: (89,233) Posts: 1,834 4/22/12 6:45 P
Another thought I overlooked. Read somewhere that repetitive movements similar to using a keyboard in which your wrists are overly bent can contribute not only to numbness but potentially carpal tunnel. Since reading that I have made an effort to avoid holding the handlebars in such a way that my wrists are not bent any more than 45 degrees in any direction...less if possible.
For instance if you look at the picture at this link:
you'll see how positioning one's hand further up toward the crook of the drop results in a greater flexing of the wrist. I try to avoid that unless I am bent way down, bend my elbows and come up the front of the drop right behind the brakes, thereby straightening out my wrists. If I'm using the drops in a more upright position with straighter elbows I pull my hands out on the drops closer to my body so that the direction of my hands is closer to the direction of my arms...thus less flexing of my wrists. Hope I haven't thoroughly confused folks...! :-)
You are probably compressing your Ulnar nerve. Raising your handlebars to shift some weight off your hands should help. Padding in grips and/or gloves will help protect from vibration traveling through your hands. I find that increasing the diameter of my handlebars helps. You might try thicker tape or two layers of tape to see if your hands like a thicker bar. I've noticed that i have always had trouble with numbness of my left hand and never the right. I wonder if it is because I use my right hand to shift (I still have down tube shifters) and to grab my water bottle. Try letting go of your handlebars and work your left hand a bit to give it a break from compression and vibration. Left hand numbness was the reason I switched to cabling my brakes the Italian way. Most in Italy control their front brake with their right hand and rear with their left. You can stop almost as quickly with your front brake as with both brakes but with only the rear brake you can not stop quickly. Now I no longer have left hand numbness but I'm used to having my road bike wired this way.
I used to have that problem, and still do occasionally when I ride "someone else's bike"; loaners, that we get when we're on organized bike tours. To fix: I changed to different gloves with gel and started neglecting my mountain bike, the only cause of the problem, with it's straight bar handlebars. Riding my road bike completely cured the problem, but I didn't want to give up mountain biking. Last summer, I broke down and bought new handlebars for my mountain bike; ones that are slightly curved and have ergonomic grips. A little extreme of a fix, but problem completely cured!
Edited by: CAROLYN1ALASKA at: 4/22/2012 (16:36)
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Fitness Minutes: (10,813) Posts: 61 4/22/12 2:18 P
I have found gloves help with the numbness and to not put pressure on my hands, change positions frequently, helps. I do distant riding and mountain biking. The road bike has the advantage, as you can frequently reposition your hands. On the mountain bike, I sometimes stop and just rest them, shake them, flex them. You don't want numb hands, when flying down a hill. Changing gloves out, has helped, also, and keeping a few different pairs is not a bad idea, but be sure to find what fits best, as there is quite a selection.
I used to have that problem, but no longer. Try riding "lightly", standing now & then, shifting your hand positions from one place to another, shifting your sitting position and often I ride with my hands very open and relaxed with the weight of leaning onto my hands being enough to guide the bike...no need to grip the handlebar. This has taken care of the numbness problem for me. Some say wearing certain gloves, but I'm not sure that is a real solution.
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I've been having trouble with the pads of my ring finger on my left hand go numb and occasionally the little finger as well due to gripping the handlebar of the bike. Is this part of what comes from cycling and can anything be done about it? It's been 7 hours since I got back from my ride and I still have some numbness. I'm concerned whether this could become permanent from regular riding, since I've experienced it most times I ride for any length of time.
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