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Old 01-18-2008   #1
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 108
Back Surgery?

I had to have a discectomy, L5-S1, feel great after 4 weeks. Anyone out there had this done before and how did it effect your paddling season. Not planning on skiing this year, but have big hopes for the 2008 paddling year. Do you have any low back pain? Any concerns about reherniation?

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Old 01-18-2008   #2
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
I had a discectomy with fusion in my neck at C4/C5 in Dec. 2006 and I was able to paddle some easy class IV in late summer 2007. Our surgeries were probably quite a bit different but you could probably plan on that being the worst case (about 7 months?) unless your healing doesn't progress well. Your Dr. will tell you when it is OK to go do something dangerous, hehe.

I'm impressed that you are feeling fine after 4 weeks. Maybe it's the drugs?

I'll bet that if you hit the gym, do all of your PT, and eat right then you'll be back in no time. It sounds like you want it and that is probably most of the battle.

As for pain... from my experience I would guess that after a day of paddling you'll be on the floor on your back... but it will be worth it. My neck hurts like shit after a full day of fun but it goes away as soon as I can lounge for about 30 minutes.

Good luck!!!

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Old 01-18-2008   #3
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
If you haven't already, it's time to have a "come to Jesus" moment with your PT. Back surgery is incredibly dependent on the physical therapy that follows the operation. If you do your therapy well and listen to your body closely enough to not do a run if you're hurting, even when the water is perfect, you'll probably have a great season this year. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-2008   #4
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 7
You should be fine

I am a spine surgery PA. I do several microdiscectomies per week. You should have no problem paddling this summer. Be sure to do lots of core strengthening for preparation. Ensure you wait an absolute minimum of six weeks following surgery before paddling. Those are the most important things you can do to prevent reherniation.
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Old 01-21-2008   #5
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The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,134
I herniated L5-S1 in 2002. I didn't start paddling until 2005, so I can't give great recommendations.

I felt "fine" by Spring, but I did some things that I shouldn't have done that kept me in pain for much longer than I would have been had I been a smart recovery dude.

I did bike riding, and for L5-S1, that's supposed to be a REALLY bad stress activity. I did yardwork that involved using a pickaxe to dig holes for yucca plants. That also wasn't too bright. I had too much sex in the missionary position. Try better angles. The less you tweak that pelvis, the better off you'll be.

I haven't had any problems since I re-conditioned properly, lost some weight, and took good care of my core. The only thing that can tweak me still, though, is bike riding. It has virtually ended my mountain-biking on harder trails, though I can still ride a lot. I just can't take that pounding.
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