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Cervical Fusion .... Recovery time?

Hey y’all... just scheduled 1 level fusion surgery on my c5-c6. Dr says after 6 weeks I’m back to all normal activities. But, no skiing for a year! Damn...that knocks me out for all of 2018. I’d like to hear your experience if you care to share. Thx


  • Moved2skiMoved2ski Posts: 15 Baller
    I had c 4-5-6 done 2 years ago. 6 months with "no athletic activity ". I got a script for a bone growth stimulater that sped things up. I got lucky and insurance paid for mine.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,142 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I'm a doc myself, had a two level fusion a few years back in June and missed a season in MN. I missed only 2 weeks of work and got back in the gym as allowed.

    Do what the docs tell reason to risk bigger things. Push it if you want to at your risk(I wanted to but those around me refused to give me a pull--I know how you feel missing out).
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller
    Thx guys...looking forward to getting this behind me
  • LLUSALLUSA Posts: 276 Crazy Baller
    Had a C4,5.6 done in December started skiing in May that was 17 years ago no problems
    LLUSA, Sr Driver, AWSA Board of Directors, Towboat Committee,Lake Owner
  • BoozeBooze Posts: 394 Solid Baller
    I'm in the "c 4-5-6" club too. Let it heal up and you should be good to go.
    Take care of those remaining disks. I use an inversion table and also occasionally a Saunders Cervical traction device.

    This brings up the question of fusion vs. artificial joint/disc.
    Some people (like CP and my former boss)) have had the titanium joint "installed". At the time of my last surgery 2012, it was not an option, or at least not a viable one. At the time it appeared to be new on the scene and was not readily accepted (in my area at least).
    @6balls - What is your knowledge of the different scenarios or options? IMO, the artificial disc should be the go-to first option and then fusion as a backup solution.
    @sodbuster88 - Was the artificial joint an option for you?
  • SethroSethro Posts: 273 Solid Baller
    I had it done back in 2012 around the first of July and was cleared to ski in early October later that year. Three of my ski buddies have since had the surgery in the October/November time frame, and were cleared to ski by the first of May. I'm beginning to think skiing might have something to do with need for the surgery in the first place... :)
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,142 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @booze I'm not sure the jury is "in" so far on artificial certainly has not become widespread standard of care yet. It's been a long time coming...I worked in a research lab in the early to mid 90's and at that time we were working on artificial discs among other things.
    Adjacent segment disease can be a little tough to study as well. In my neck for example, my adjacent segments suck already. Will they fail down the line due to my fusion or were they going to fail anyway.
    I hope artificial discs prove good enough in long-term results to become the standard of care and improve adjacent segment disease...but only if they do prove good enough. Even if they may still be a case by case kind of thing whereas for one patient option "a" is better and for another option "b".
    Keep in mind I'm no neurosurgeon...just a family doc with a fusion in his neck. I refer a lot of patients to neurosurgeons of high quality, though, and I don't see the industry using artificial discs as standard of care just yet if my referred patients are any example.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller surgery will be one level with disc removal. Instead of a bone graft, they are installing a polymer spacer with holes drilled in it that have some bone growth stuff. It’s all tied together with a titanium plate. Is this a hybrid of a the artificial disc?
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller

  • wawaskrwawaskr Posts: 224 Baller
    @sodbuster88 what were the symptoms that finally pushed you into deciding to get your neck fused?
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller
    Symptoms include pain in both shoulders and upper arms, numbness, tingling and dead spots in thumbs and forearms. MRI shows no foraminal openings between c5 & c6...on either side, which is driving severe impingement to those nerve roots. Good news is no rupture to the disc, but it’s compressed to the point of slight impingement on the cord. 6 weeks PT didn’t touch it....not even sure why Dr wanted me to go through PT. Anyway, it’s time to get it fixed.
  • SethroSethro Posts: 273 Solid Baller
    Mine is similar to the above, however there is no plate. I have artificial discs, but my own bone “shavings” were used to somehow pack in there. The shavings were recovered from drilling holes in my vertebrae to install essentially lag screws as the fusing mechanism between the vertebrae. That’s how I remember it anyway.
  • BoozeBooze Posts: 394 Solid Baller
    @sodbuster88 - evidently that is just another approach or method to achieving the same end. The local surgeon where I live uses what you posted. I went with another surgeon in Bham that uses a "cage" or polymer spacer as you put it, but it has metal spikes that attach to the bone. The spikes evidently serve as the stabilizer rather than the plate.
    Perhaps there are other factors in the equation when it comes to plate vs no plate?

    My symptoms were similar as well. Considerable impingement.
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller
    Thx guys...had no clue that this condition (and fix) is not all that unusual. Sorta like buying a cool car...after you buy the car, you notice tons of others just like yours out on that highway.
  • RogerRoger Posts: 1,555 Crazy Baller
    edited November 2017
    C5-6, C6-7 for me in 1996. Six months and skiing again, no issues (for me, they fused them with bone from my hip).
    Roger B. Clark - Okeeheelee skier. Senior driver, Senior Judge
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller

    Got it done ... man my neck is sore!
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,142 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @sodbuster88 chicks dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever.

    Hang in there man, the initial c-spine recovery to sort of a normally functioning human is pretty quick. Gotta wait longer for athletics.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • sodbuster88sodbuster88 Posts: 112 Baller
    @6balls and all, thanks for the encouragement and feedback.
  • BoatmanBoatman Posts: 17 Baller
    edited December 2017
    I had a 1 level (c7-t1) removed May 30 and Doc released me to ski about the 3rd week of August. Problem was after 12 weeks of weight restrictions and residual nerve issues in my right hand, I didn't have enough strength left to deep water start. I skied 4 times and decided to finish healing and try again next year. My proceedure inserted a "puck" with my own bone material (harvested from my hip) impregnated into it for the graft. All is great now. Fingers are working correctly and numbness is subsiding. Good Luck! Nothing to it.
  • BoatmanBoatman Posts: 17 Baller
    Oh, by the way, they go in from the FRONT! :)
  • davemacdavemac Posts: 450 Baller
    just curious as to whether you "fusion recipients" were all symptomatic?? I'm 51 and recovering from a nasty (road) cycling crash a couple months back. Landed on my head and my ( 20 month old) total replacement shoulder. Fortunately my clavicle sacrificed itself into several pieces (now plated with 12 screws) and spared my shoulder.
    MRI shows severe stenosis, etc at C5-C6 with impingement such that no fluid in that area to protect the cord. This likely was a condition that pre-existed the crash.
    I'm being told any future accidents/head trauma puts me at considerable risk of cord injury. As I am not symptomatic (no numbness, tingling, etc) neurosurgeons don't seem interested in surgery.
  • RednucleusRednucleus Posts: 276 Solid Baller
    I am a veterinarian, not a physician, but it should be universal that you treat the patient, not the Xray, MRI, CT - if I have no symptoms and something like a tumor is not growing, I am going to opt for "watchful waiting".
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