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UnderGround Forums >> Is there hope after spinal fusion? (cervical)


9/23/10 9:56 AM
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Bull_in_chinashop
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Does anyone have  a direct experience with cervical spine damage (C1-C7) and the rehabilitation or training after spinal fusion surgery?

 

I have a student who recently went in for surgery having herniated 2 disks and he had fusion done for 3-4 & 5-6.  He is devastated now and severly depressed because doctors tell him don’t even think about combat sports again, and this guy’s world was built around training, working as a personal trainer in the mornings, working a part time job in the afternoons and training every evening. He built his life around fighting.

 

So what I’m hoping to hear from you are your stories of injury and surgery and were you able to train again after surgery or was it too dangerous or painful etc.

 

Thank you.

9/23/10 10:08 AM
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Kevin Curtis
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BIC,

I had a spinal fusion (rod fused to spine chest to belly) due to scoliosis. Was told not to do alot of things, which I ignored for the most part. I did martial arts in one form or another for 25 years, and have lifted weights for longer. Grappling was tough on me, but I did a bit, and I tend to stay away from squats and dead lifts.

My advise is to him is to not give up hope, but to be smart... work slowly back into training and let his body and brain be his guide.

Best of luck and let me know if there is anything else I can do!

p.s. - I suffer more from other injuries I have incurred over the years than ones related to my fusion.
9/23/10 10:20 AM
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Trojan Rubber Guard
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 He needs to be careful if he decides to try to resume training



Spine injuries are nothing to fuck around with
9/23/10 10:26 AM
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chris colquitt
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we had a student with the same situation as Kevin Curtis from above (rod fused due to scoliosis). It limited him in some ways grappling, mainly some flexibility issues, but for the most part he was fine. I think a lot of doctors pull the "stay away from all activites" as a way to cover their asses so he may want to consult one who is more sport oriented.

I'm not a doctor so take it for what its worth.
9/23/10 10:27 AM
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Bull_in_chinashop
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 well I too have 2 herniated disks and expereince pain and numbness from it but have elected (or rather procrastinated) to delay any surgery until absolutely necessary.

He says that he feels much better already and he swears he even has a better range of motion due to the relief on the nerve root pressure from the herniated disks.

I can't imagine doing bjj/submission grappling/mma with fused cervical vertebrae. does anyone here do it? I was wondering however, if he could do muay thai as it requires a strong neck, but certainly not the cranking & manipulation that occurs in bjj.
9/23/10 10:41 AM
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Bull_in_chinashop
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chris colquitt -  I think a lot of doctors pull the "stay away from all activites" as a way to cover their asses so he may want to consult one who is more sport oriented.

 of course. If it were up to doctors we'd sit in padded rooms with helmets on so they don't get sued.

btw: his surgery was done by one of the top sports dr.'s in the DC area, who works on NFL players and other athletes who get spinal injuries. I
9/23/10 10:49 AM
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King Baer
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I have a herniated disc in my lower back, no surgery yet (hopefully never). My last fight was in September '09 and I haven't been able to rehab it to the point of being competitive yet.. hopefully I will someday.

In the meantime I can do light stuff here and there but I always pay for it.

Sucks real bad.
9/23/10 10:50 AM
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duckrabbit
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Listen, no doctor is going to fix your back and then say, do whatever you want. That implies some kind of guarantee. He just needs to listen to his body and do what he can.
9/23/10 11:03 AM
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Punk Dobbs
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BIC,

The guy most likely has an anterior plate and 6 screws in his neck. The metal is just holding the bones still while two other non native pieces of bone are wedged between those 3 vertebra where the disc used to be.

It takes about a year or maybe more for those pieces of bone to become part of his spine and the entire success of the surgery depends on that happening. Without the bone incorporating, the plate and/or screws will eventually break.

The guy really needs to take it easy until the fusion is solid. Just because he just got out of a fusion surgery doesn't mean he has a fused neck. It's like he just got a cast on a broken leg.

The spine also functions as a whole to take up stress on the entire body. Now that he has effectively 2 less motion segments in his neck, that means any stress to that area is now spread to less joints so each remaining joint has to do more work. That's the risk of training. If he screwed up the neck when all 7 cervical vertebra were functional, it's certainly possible that he can screw it up again now that he has 5 cervical vertebra.
9/23/10 11:07 AM
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Bull_in_chinashop
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 great points Punk, and that's exactly my fears for his health.
9/23/10 11:42 AM
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Strandman
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I have had spinal fusion (C6-C7) Yes there is hope, but it depends if you have spinal cord damage. I did.
9/23/10 2:27 PM
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Bull_in_chinashop
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 ttt
9/23/10 2:40 PM
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drunkenfighter
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That sucks man. I can't imagine what these athletes go through.

I have lifted weights all my life, but I just started getting into powerlifting almost one year ago.

I was going hard for almost 9 months, and I was really starting to enjoy it, until I aggrevated a buldging disc (twice) doing deadlifts. I was then on the couch/bed for over 2 months, and I have not lifted a weight over 100lbs in over 3 months.

It was really depressing (and it still is). It is very hard to have something that you love (or enjoy) taken away via personal injury. It is extremelly frustrating.

My heart goes out to him. I know how I feel (being an armchair athlete), I can't imagine how pros athletes or people who build their lives around sports feel when stuff like this happens to their body.

Best of luck.
9/23/10 2:41 PM
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Joe O'Brien
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Tito plans on fighting with one fused. Benji radach had a lamindectomy of his cervical spine and he told me of someone who fights with a fusion.

Supposedly it's more common than you'd think in the NFL just not disclosed.
9/23/10 2:44 PM
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mrzipplokk
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Edited: 09/23/10 2:44 PM
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 www.laserspineinstitute.com

www.nuvasive.com

I WOULDN'T CONSIDER ANYTHING TILL I WAS FULLY RESEARCHED ON THE NEW MINIMALLY INVASIVE TECHNIGUES, BILLY

 
9/23/10 2:52 PM
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ausgepicht
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BIC, one of my good friends has a similar injury. He has a metal plate holding some of the disks together in the c1-c7 region. He was told the same things. I met him because he showed up at my gym and trained for a good few months before telling us how he broke his neck. He let us feel the metal and he brought in x-rays the next day to show us. He was one of the toughest, orneriest guys in the gym. He did everything everyone else did and then some.

Of course, every case is different. Hope your buddy makes out OK.

9/23/10 2:52 PM
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mrzipplokk
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 I see Dr. Jho is using the new technigues as well. Good stuff.
9/23/10 2:57 PM
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deamergb
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Bull_in_chinashop -  I have a student who recently went in for surgery having herniated 2 disks and he had fusion done for 3-4 & 5-6. He is devastated now and severly depressed because doctors tell him don’t even think about _________________ again, and this guy’s world was built around training, working as a personal trainer in the mornings, working a part time job in the afternoons and training every evening. He built his life around ____________.


If you like this kid and want the best for him, then you should help him find something that will fill in the blanks.

If this was years ago when "combat sports" weren't as popular we'd be talking about something else (motorcycle racing, car racing, powerlifting, skydiving, etc) but the end result would be the same. If someone you care about keeps doing _________, there's a real chance they could cause permanent, severe injury to themselves.

There comes a point in everyones life where they have to change and move away from things they have been passionalte about (pro football, baseball, and basketball players for example). Usually that comes later in life where it may be easier to understand/accept, but in this case it's probably someone who is young. That sucks, but it doesn't change the reality.

I was involved in the martial arts for over 20 years, but one final, significant injury ended that. Could I have continued after my recovery? Maybe, but there would always be the reality that the "next time" could be permanent.

Help this guy find other things to be passionate about. There are plenty of successful, athletic, great people in the world who don't trane MMA...

9/23/10 3:03 PM
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Son of Neckbone
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Just to clarify, is this a fusion of C3-C6, or C3/4 and C5/6?

Also there is a very real chance of injury competing in any combat sport with a healthy neck, let alone with a fusion. I broke and dislocated my neck when I was 18 in high school, and now have a fusion at C4/5. My neck didn't appreciate it, but I boxed and did BJJ for several years without generating any problems that my chiropractor couldn't handle.
9/23/10 3:51 PM
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FXG
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My gf's father had spinal fusion surgery and he is way worse off. But he is a fat slob who smokes ciggarettes, for an athlete it may be good. Phone Post
9/23/10 4:30 PM
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deamergb
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TravenBJJ -  ^^^^^  Pretty sure the doctors will let him know what is best for him.  Stop scaring people.


I apologize is anyone thinks I was trying to scare people. My feedback was based on this from the OP:

" He is devastated now and severly depressed because doctors tell him don’t even think about combat sports again"

9/23/10 4:45 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 09/23/10 4:48 PM
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I Have C5-6 fusion and I am as good as new... I had a totally blown disc with disc material floating in my spinal canal with impingement. Whole right side of my upper body got weak and atrophied.

I have competed in the worlds 18months after as a Brownbelt and was fine, and I just won a Silver in the Pan this year... was the best i ever felt... so ya, he can recover.

I LOT depends on whats wrong and what C#'s but be SURE to have him go to a sports medicine doctor... not just some regular hospital doctor... cause I can tell you right now standard hospital docs dont know there ass from there elbow when it comes to athletes and there injuries and what they can and cant recover from

My advice? Dont let anyone tell him he 'cant' do something... if they say that walk right out and go to someone else!
9/23/10 4:52 PM
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deamergb
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TravenBJJ - 
deamergb - 
TravenBJJ -  ^^^^^  Pretty sure the doctors will let him know what is best for him.  Stop scaring people.


I apologize is anyone thinks I was trying to scare people. My feedback was based on this from the OP:

" He is devastated now and severly depressed because doctors tell him don’t even think about combat sports again"

I have been to the top spine doctor in the south Dr Rhee.  I have also sent all my MRI to Dr Jho in Pittsburgh.  They both tell me I should be alright to coompete after acdf surgery.   I am trying to get the minimally invasive surgery done by Dr. Jho
 


Best of luck.

9/23/10 4:55 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 09/23/10 5:11 PM
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Bad C5-C6 Herniation Q & A please

http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/mma.cfm?go=forum_framed.posts&forum=27&thread=496958&page=1&pc=215
9/23/10 7:40 PM
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gilbertfan
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I am a pain management specialist who did a fellowship in spine interventions. The majority of patients who come to see me have had spinal fusions by a surgeon.

I am also a ringside doc as well and a BJJer.

Competing in MMA after a spinal fusion depends on many factors. The condition and stability of the rest of your spine, the number of levels involved, the approach and type of fusion selected, any other medical conditions, h/o smoking, h/o poor healing or scar/keloid formation among many others.

In general multi-level fusions have dubious success rates in healthy non-combat exposed patients. Exposing these to the impact of combat is foolish because of the risk of failure and chronic severe pain or even worse neurologic deficits.

Small minimally invasive techniques are tolerated better and are less succeptible to cataastrophic failures, pseudoarthrosis, hardware failure, infections and scar formation(arachnoiditis)

So it all depends on your particular condition, your current state and what they plan on doing. Everybody is different. But if it were me and my livelihood did not depend on it, I would stick to grappling and not allow my head to get smashed in MMA. Chronic pain is terrible. I treat it everyday. It would be terrible to have a successful surgery that fails as a result of competition.

If your surgeon tells you not to compete don't go looking for someone to OK it after he operates because your surgeon will have had first hand knowledge of your spine and will possibly be unwilling to pick up the pieces if you shatter his good work. This type of revision would almost definitely result in a poor outcome. Just my opinion.

PM me if you want to chat

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