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Dr. Mark Almost 3 months since Broken Neck

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I am almost 3 months after the second surgery on my neck *C-5 , C-6 , C-7 ,fused and plated*(pic below)

The first surgery on Mar 23rd 09 , had issues and 2 weeks afterwards i was loosing the use of my right arm , they cut me back open and found the plate had collapsed 4mm , pinching nerves , that was April 7th 09 , i was feeling ok for the most part afterwards , still had quite a bit of pain ,within the month , it wasn't enough to necessitate using pain meds more than once a day(usually in evening so i could sleep)and I was off most of the meds a month after surgery ,....feeling somwhat better .... i tried riding my utility ATV , was a little sore(well a lot sore really)afterwards , but i did ok so i rode it a little each weekend , with no serious side effects , *that i know of !*

It is now closing in on 3 months after surgery(July 7th will be 3 months exactly) i have been riding my dirtbikes(02 CRF450R , 06 CRF450X) for about a month now (just on the weekends) , and i have been wearing the Dr prescribed neck brace the entire time i have been riding and 90% of the time when i am not riding , i found i can wear my helmet while wearing the brace , with just a little restrictions in up/down movement , which makes looking ahead a struggle , but i can see far enough to ride on the local GP track(no jumps on it, and its a sand track , so falls are sort of soft..i have only fallen twice , the second time brusing my right side with a softball size black and blue mark in 2 places , my right hip and right next to my belly button(i think that was the handlebar end)), But I didn't really hit my head hard(kind of a side hit so i don't think i damaged anything)But some may think i have brain damage for riding so soon , but i am going nuts not riding and i think i am doing ok for the most part , so now after my story , on to my issues and questions

I am off meds pretty much all together , with the exception of the occaisional Ibuprofen , or when i am going to ride , i take a Asprin before riding , mainly to eliminate arm pump , since i have not ridden , or done much of anything since January , as that is when the numbness started and ending me up somehow with a broken neck , so i have been out of shape and riding gives me armpump now , and most likely will until my muscles get used to riding again (i dont take the Ibuprofen and Asprin together) , anyway , i go to a chiropractor as part of my therapy , and he has been concerned that my neck has been swollen more since i started riding again ,( he isn't thrilled about me riding so soon) he advised me to take it easy for a while , which i have stopped riding for 3 weeks now , and i still have the swelling(on the back of my neck , equal to where the fusion is) , i am also sore all the time , BUT i have been at about the same amount of soreness since i had the surgery , i just noticed it more after stopping the pain meds , but it hasn't lessened or increased much either way , i am just always kind of sore......soooo ,

My questions are:

Is the swelling "normal" after surgery and if so , how long will it last, as it has already been 3 months ? ... and

Is the pain "normal" to be fairly uncomfortable for almost 3 months, and how long should it last ?

I have had numbness in my right thumb and index finger since i woke from the second surgery , (did not have it before the surgery , i was numb on the left before surgery) , and ...will it ever go away ??

Any info would be appreciated , the Dr's don't really give me much info as i would like , so i don't know if i am pushing it too much or this is what i am destined to feel like from now on !!

I am scheduled to see the surgeon on the 7th of July , to hopefully be released to normal activity(as normal as i can be )

Below is my neck

*click on image to enlarge*

spine.th.jpg

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had the exacted same thing done c5 c6 c7 fused together,man its to early,let it heal,give it at least a year,or you may pay for it for the rest of your life,the bikes will still be there when you get better

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I will be locked up in the looney bin in a year !!:worthy:

I was going nuts a month after surgery , as i have been unable to do anything since January , so looking at July , i figured i was going to be released to unrestricted activity(thats what i am hoping the Dr will say on Monday !) , everyone keeps telling my i am pushing it , but how are the muscles and joints going to get used to doing things , if you don't do things , it seems the muscles and joints(at least mine anyway) get stiffer and sorer if i just sit around(especially on the PC , i really get sore sitting here hunched over)

Don't get me wrong i am not trying to purposley injure myself more , or worse , get myself paralyzed , as i have almost been at that point several times in the last 20+ years , this being the closest to severing my spinal cord , and trust me i am not a person that would "adapt" to a wheelchair longterm , or being spoonfed for the rest of my life , i would rather just have the plug pulled !!

But , in the general sense , i feel good enough to ride , and when i get to a pain level that i can't handle , i stop riding , i am not a complete idiot(i dont think i am anyway) , but some of the pain and soreness goes away a little when i ride , it may come back later , but when riding , my pain level drops significantly , i guess i am too focused to feel the pain much , or something

I have been taking it easy lately , almost a month since i have really ridden , so i AM trying to be careful !

Like i said , my main concern , is just the pain that has been steady since i woke from the first surgery , , when i don't take meds , its very noticible , and the same goes for the numbness , its been there since i woke from surgery

Wheelchairs do concern me , but i didn't think i was pushing it that hard !!, but i might be wrong !

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man i know what your going through,It is very hard,I was hit by a quad while riding my dirt bike on april 25th and spent a week in the hospital,broke neck,crushed disc had c5-c6-c7 fused together.the hardest thing i had to do was stand on the sidelines and watch a race i have be training for for over a year to do,that sucked!but the doctor's told me that if i don't let it heal completely up,and give it some time,my next ride might be my last,so i can wait,I would rather ride a year from now,than never ride again!You are not the only one out there with this injury,I thought i was,If you would like to talk,pm me I know what your feeling.

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Read up on how long it takes for nerve tissue and bone to regenerate. If the doc was in your neck twice to dig around, it would seem that it would take a significant amount of time to heal. In my experience, it takes well over 3 months to heal a damaged L5 nerve, 2 to 3 months to get an axiliary nerve to refire reasonaly well and about a year for significant neck pain to subside after a C2 issue. Go running and see if your neck can handle the simple shocks from each step. Or, if you have a sport bike, see if your neck can handle the little bumps in the highway. Basically, take little steps and see where the next threshold is in pain or side effects. Jumping on a dirt bike is ok as long as you take the same precautions - baby steps until there is manageable pain without meds the next day after the ride. I'm sure you have already been warned about your type of procedure, the new at-risk parts of your neck back are at each end of the repair. I guess my advice would be to go slow and build on minor successes.

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Just a quick point about the fusion (I'm not going to ignore the other issues here...)

When you have vertebrae fused, the "joints" immediately above and below the fusion have to move more than they used to in order for you to have a similar range of motion as before the fusion. It won't be exactly the same, but the body compensates well over time for many injuries. Also, the remaining disks must absorb a greater amount of shock (it's pretty much a "physics math problem"...) since the fused joints no longer move vertically either so loads get transferred to the remaining mobile bones and tissue.

My point here being that you might feel "okay" right now, but small stresses that you might be used to may actually be loading your vertebrae much more than you might think.

That said, my suggestion is to consult a sports ortho as to how you can best work yourself back into riding dirt without creating a setback along the way. It may seem slow and freakin' annoying, but I think that it would be far better than finding yourself in a wheelchair or worse.

Heal well.

-Dave

(nearly 2 years in recovery from a cager vs bike prang on the I-605. It still hurts in places; looks like I'm gonna own those...)

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I understand what your saying , and i agree i SHOULD be more careful , as best i can say , is I Will Try Not To Fall ! , believe me , the last thing i want is a breathing tube and to have no use of anything below my head !! , that being said , I had my visit with the Dr on Monday , he had me get X-Rays before , and we looked them over , he said everything looked like it was on its way to fusing , the top was already fused and the bottom still has some movement , but he said he did not expect me to be fusing this early , but the magnetic collar i have to wear 4 hours a day , every day , seems to be speeding up the healing !! , so that is the good part , he said i am doing well and he see's no abnormalities in the X-Rays , however , the numbness i have been having since day 1 , he was concerned with , since he was hoping that they would have diminished by now , so he had me go get a CAT-scan , before i went home , and i go back on the 20th to get the results of what they find...

What he believes is the problem (and he needs the scan to confirm)is that the canals that the nerves go thru in my neck are either clogging up or due to arthritis , being choked off and pinching the nerves , since the numbness is not constant , he believes this is the case , but i wont know anything untill i see him again.......still i have stopped riding on the track , and am only going to "gently" as much as possible anyway , trailride , i will be wearing my Dr appointed neck brace , which i wear 90% of the time anyway , and does fit with my helmet on , the Dr's advice to me was do not hit my head if at all possible to avoid any complications that could happen from a head/neck impact......believe me , it scares the crap out of me , but i am still going on a trail ride thursday.......it will be a test of my pain level and what i can really handle right now , as i know my muscles are weak , and i have been getting arm pump like crazy , but i think i will be relaxed enough to ride thru it for the most part...........I rarely fall , i think i have fallen 5 times in 2 years ,and most of them have been at just above a idle , and had no place to put my feet , so i simply just fell over,,,, so i am confident i can handle the ride , and if i feel uncertian about anything we come across , i dont have a ego problem , and i can find a easier way around a obsticle if need be !!............the good news is !!! , It has been since March 22nd since i have had a cigarette !! , smoked from age 12 , and stopped cold turkey , to help healing the Drs told me i had to quit , or my chances of fusion would be slim at best because of the arthritis and bone problems i have

so at least i have stayed off the cigs for almost 4 months now , and i don't have any urge to smoke , and i can't believe how much i stunk when i did smoke !! , i am sure i am healthier now , than i was while smoking !!.....so at least i am doing something right !!:worthy:

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Good points, and glad to hear that you're off the cancer sticks. Best wishes on your recovery. Heal well.

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Just a small update , i had gone back on the 20th like i mentioned and we went over the CAT Scan , it looks like all the canals except a small portion in C8(below the fusion) are completly clear , the small portion he showed me , he does not think is causing me any issues , so he has set me up with another Neurosurgeon , so this will be the 3rd surgeon i will see(the 2 that did the first 2 surgeries together) , and the one i will see on the 31st of this month(July) , the concern is the numbness i have had since before the surgery when i lay down , on either my sides or on my back and either my left or right or both arms go numb , also when i sit with my arms at my sides or in a chair with arms , pretty much anything other than sitting straight up or standing makes me go numb at some point or another , and with varying intensities , so the Dr's think there is some sort of spinal cord damage , but they are not sure where and to what extent , hence the meeting with the new surgeon to get another opinion and perspective on my issues , anyway i will hopefully know something when i get done with that visit at the end of the month....i will update again when i know something more

oh and when i went trail riding the week before last *yea i know* , about 2 days before i went , my lower back went out , i was getting stabbing pains that would drop me to the ground , anyway i figured that riding might loosen me up.....i was wrong !!....and by the end of the 44 mile single track ride , i had to be removed from my 450X because i couldnt get off by myself and my buddies had to carry me to the truck , then into my house , where i had to use a cane till just this last week , it has been 2 weeks now and i am almost back to normal , all i can say is this has been a real crappy year

Broken Neck 2 surgeries

Kidney Stones(dont EVER want to go thru that pain again)it also postponed my first surgery by 10 days

Back going out , in its yearly effort to give out at the most inopportune times

So far its been a real crappy year !!! , it has to get better at some point i hope !!....oh and the worst part....i turn 50 in a few weeks !!!!:worthy:

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Thanks for posting and update, and grats for turning 29 again! :banana:

I hear ya on having crappy year, it sure can seem like that at times.

Call me a Pollyanna (just not late for dinner...), but you can walk, talk, feed yourself, and wipe your butt without a nurse doing it for you, and go for a ride when you feel like it. Sounds like a pretty good deal from a broken neck if you ask me. I have some friends that haven't been so lucky or "blessed" - so to speak.

Anyway, not to stress you out about that. Just want to point out that with the right care, you'll continue to improve and things won't seem so crappy in time. Cheer up mate, have a blessed life, and let's see about wishing you another happy 29th in 10 years and 10 weeks from now. :worthy:

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Yea i think i know what you mean , i have a friend that i have known for years (Willie Bosserman) his dad is the KTM dealer in Boise , Id , and he was a certified KTM mechanic and a hell of a good rider , anyway last November(just 2 months before me) he was riding in Idaho City on single track (where i often ride), and went over a log like he had done 1,000 times before, in first gear walking speed , and when he went over this log something happened he lost his balance and he fell , hit his head on the log and is now a quad with just limited movement in 1 arm , i havn't talked to him yet , but he is in far worse shape than i am , so i understand what your saying , i guess my impatients overshadows my blindness to the fact that i guess i am lucky that i can still walk and ride.....good point !!! i'm enlightened !!!:worthy:

even though some things suck , things could be much worse !!!

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