skiing with fusions?

19skier19skier Posts: 108 Baller
I'm scheduled for C4-7 fusion n L6-3/Pars defect repair. Any (skiing) docs here that think there should be skiing in my future? Hard to imagine a non-skiing lifestyle. Thx.


  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    I would. Just let it heal properly first.
    Jim Ross
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,948 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Skied with cervical fusion c4-5 and c5-6 last year no issues. Just had my lumbar decompression L3-5 and plan on skiing when the ice melts.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • jdk99jdk99 Posts: 83 Baller
    Not clear on "L6-3 pars defect repair" @l9skier. Having said that, I suspect you will be able to ski again at some point. Were you my patient, I would recommend taking at least one season off to allow adequate fusion.

    Importantly though you must understand that doing so may place you at higher risk of requiring adjacent segment surgery in the future. A c3-7 is a long construct ....this then places substantial load onto C2/3 and C7/T1 and so those levels are subject to future failure...repeated neck hyperflexion/extension from slalom falls may increase that risk. If I were in your shoes, I would find that risk worth taking to continue skiing...but that's me.

    Maybe @6balls and others can weigh in as well ... several have had fusions/spine surgery.
  • 19skier19skier Posts: 108 Baller
    Huh, guess my doc just isn't a skier. Thx for the input, it's what I wanted to hear - guess I came to the right place :)
  • BoozeBooze Posts: 356 Solid Baller
    edited January 2016
    I had C4/C5 in '93 and C5/C6 in '13. I am still skiing, and agree with jdk99. I take care to minimize stress on the adjacent discs, and use this...
  • BoozeBooze Posts: 356 Solid Baller
    I am curious to see someone speak from experience regarding the total disc replacement versus a fusion.
  • eddie_roberts_jreddie_roberts_jr Posts: 449 Water Ski Industry Professional
    I got fused at C5/C6 over 20 years ago. The doc told me not to ski but I have been anyway. No problems! I used a Banana George Blair neck brace for the 1st couple of years. I try not to take that same kind of fall.
  • jdk99jdk99 Posts: 83 Baller
    @Booze...disc replacement isn't a bad option for pure cervical disc herniation and arguably can prevent adjacent segment failure. However, it is only indicated for one or two levels in patients with disc herniations but minimal osteophytes (bone spurs). I would bet that most hard core skiers have significant osteophytes due to repeated minor neck trauma and therefore would not be candidates for replacement.
  • BoozeBooze Posts: 356 Solid Baller
    @jdk99 - That's interesting. Why does osteophytes complicate or interfere with the disc replacement procedure?
  • MarcoMarco Posts: 1,407 Crazy Baller
    I had an L4-L5 laminectomy with fusion in October of 2014, and was cleared to ski in the spring of 2015. I took it easy at first but ended up shortening the line as the season went on. I can definitely feel the stress on my adjacent joints, so I take care not to over do things like I used to.

    Not sure if a cervical fusion has different healing times than lumbar fusions, but I was cleared for full activity after 6 months.
  • jdk99jdk99 Posts: 83 Baller
    @booze - to clarify, small foraminal osteophytes can still be addressed with replacement. However, substantial osteophytes or arthritis of the joints in the back of the spine (facets) cannot. All of the manufacturers and and most insurers include these as contraindications. Some of that may be due to how the studies were set up to gain FDA approval - i.e. eliminate those likely to fail and cherry pick those likely to succeed. I suspect the rationale is as follows:

    Osteophytes - with substantial osteophytes a significant portion of bone must be removed and the structural integrity of the disc space is violated and therefore the space into which the artificial disc is inserted has fewer surfaces upon which to anchor

    Facets/osteophytes - in both cases, you are dealing with a degenerated segment which likely not only creates pain due to nerve compression but also from movement of the joints themselves. Obviously if the goal is to eliminate pain, motion needs to be eliminated.

    A bit technical but hope that helps.
  • RogerRoger Posts: 1,522 Crazy Baller
    I had C5-6, C6-7 fused in 1996 and I'm still skiing and competing with no apparent issues. My surgeon said that once the fusion was complete, I could do anything I did before except for some loss of range of movement. For me, the most loss is looking up while side to side and down seem to be relatively unaffected.
    Roger B. Clark - Okeeheelee skier. Senior driver, Senior Judge
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