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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've suffered from lower back pain and sciatica for many years. I've tried chiropractors and injections with no relief. So, I found a highly-regarded orthopeadic surgeon and am having an L4 L5 fusion and bulging disc surgery on May 5th. The Doc said it would take about two months before I could start doing some normal things. I told him I had a month-long motorcycle tour planned for later this summer and he advised that I should wait three months after surgery before attempting something like that. Is he being overly optimistic? If you've had similar back surgery, how long before you could get back on a motorcycle?

Thanks,
David
 

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I had spinal decompression and laminectomy done on February 18 this year. Slow process getting back into shape but I should be riding by May. Yours is different than mine and spinal fusion places additional weight on the rest of you back. Just do what the doc says and all should go well for you. Best of luck to you.
 

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I had surgery for L5-S1 on 3/25/14. At the time my surgeon told me my sciatica nerve had been so strangulated and pinched it was bright purple. One of the reasons I have come to call it my Psychotic Nerve.

I am still in a lot of discomfort 1 year later and just had another MRI this morning. I've had 3 epidural injections all of which relieved the pain no more than a couple days while the Novocain and the meds were still at the area of the injection and hadn't dissipated yet. My chiropractor, who had treated me for other back related issues for years, looked at my x-rays and MRI's and actually told me he didn't think he could do anything for me as my vertebrates were in such a mess. This actually told me just how bad my back was to have him admit that. One of the major side effects of all this is I have lost about half of the leg strength in my right leg....so much so that I am now awaiting having my Wing triked later this summer.
Riding in my wife's Altima and in my F-150 is still quite uncomfortable for even short distances. I discovered late last season that I am able to ride the bike, with the help of the Mighty Ibuprofen, with only moderate discomfort and pain. It all depends what leg position you find irritates your back the most. Hopefully your surgeon has the miracle touch mine seemed to be lacking. Actually he told me the sciatica nerve had been so damaged that it very well could take a year or two before it rejuvenates and rehabs itself so I'm not at all finding him at fault as he did the best with what he was presented. A month long ride will be very stressful to a recently repaired spine I would think.

Allen Serviss
 

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I've suffered from lower back pain and sciatica for many years. I've tried chiropractors and injections with no relief. So, I found a highly-regarded orthopeadic surgeon and am having an L4 L5 fusion and bulging disc surgery on May 5th. The Doc said it would take about two months before I could start doing some normal things. I told him I had a month-long motorcycle tour planned for later this summer and he advised that I should wait three months after surgery before attempting something like that. Is he being overly optimistic? If you've had similar back surgery, how long before you could get back on a motorcycle?

Thanks,
David
I had the same exact surgery about 2 years ago. His nurse told me 1 year. I took about 5 months before I rode. Its not the riding that's bad, its if you get into an accident, it will undo everything. Make sure you wear the bone stimulator till the thing times itself out, it will heal a little faster. Also try and walk as much as you can after the doctor tells you can. Have a back rest on the bike and I don't think you will have a problem. My back still aches mainly when I ride in my truck long distances. I still can't stand to long and bending over to the ground is a chore. Just do all the rehab you can in the beginning and you will be better off later.
 

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I've been fortunate enough to avoid any doctors, but friends that did frequent them normally came out all messed up forever. Some came out messed up, and went to a different doctor and came out ok, some went to a different doctor and was even worse than the first. Good luck, and I don't mean to say there is not a good chance of coming out all pain free and ready to ride in a few months, but the fact is doctors make like $10,000 an hour on operations, so why would they want to cure anyone when they can come back 2 months later for the same operation for $10,000 an hour? No warranty implied on any doctor visits, and not implied is putting it in mild terms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow...thanks for the info guys. Now I'm not sure if I want to go through with this or not. I basically have a burning pain in the lumbar of my back if I stand for very long or go on long walks. I also have an aching pain from my lower back, thru my right butt and down my right leg when I ride the Goldwing (or my Harley) for anymore than twenty minutes. I've lived with this pain for many years, but at least I can still ride. I'd rate the standing/walking pain about a 7 and the motorcycle pain about a 6, sometimes higher. I've been using 5mg of hydrocodone and it helps a little, but not much. Fortunately, it doesn't make me loopy at all (no more than usual).
The ortho surgeon is the chief spine surgeon at the hospital down here and says he's done "thousands" of this type of surgery. He's also got many five star reviews from past patients on the ConsumerReports website and no complaints. I feel confident he knows what he's doing, and my wife thinks I should have it done so I can finally be pain-free. I'm worried I'll be in worse shape than I am now. He said three months before a long motorcycle ride, but if that's a pipe dream I might just cancel the surgery and continue with the pain, and stay on the drugs to dull the pain. Pretty confused right now.

Thanks,
David
 

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Back surgery

Dave, I had L3-4&5 fused and titanium rods installed vertical and horizontal in mid march 1999 and went n a 5000 mile ride the first week in Aug.
I did aqua therapy rather than land, more resistance an less weight bearing. Been riding happily every since, even on

hayabusa. I have a heated corbin seat on my wing. God luck to you. ccidr
 

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Had surgery in the 80's on L4-L5, for herniated disc on a Wednesday, came back to work on the following Saturday. (Ah, the joy of being self employed)
A lot of back problems can be helped by surgery. A lot of the recovery is determined by "Motivation"

Had C-1 thru C-4 Fused several years ago, with a Titanium Plate attached. The surgery was a piece of cake, the 8 weeks I had to wear the neck collar was a PITA.
The Dr. was one of the best I ever ran across. He insisted that I wear the Collar until the bone grafts all bonded. And, that is the main thing in dealing with a fusion.
The time it takes for the grafts to bond & become solid.

In my professional, medical opinion, you should be good to go in about 8 weeks, IF you don't do anything to damage the fusion during the recovery period.

I wish you Good Luck, and a full recovery. (You can message me, as to where to send the check...LOL)
 

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I had L4/L5 fusion done 6 years ago. It relieved all of the nerve pain but now I have chronic lower back muscle pain. It's not nearly so bad as before but you probably shouldn't expect to be pain free. Ever.

It really comes down to choosing between two types of discomfort. If you are only uncomfortable versus in agony, I would delay surgery for as long as you can. I would also use a neurosurgeon instead of an orthopedic surgeon. This is probably just my personal bias but if somebody's going to be slicing and dicing down there, I want somebody who knows nerves.

Whatever you decide, I hope you have good success.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks guys for the encouraging words and also your own past experiences. I'm probably going to keep my surgery date, but I plan on going down to the doc's office one more time to talk things over. I originally thought I would only need a microdiscectomy for a bulging disc at L5 S1, which would have been the least invasive procedure, but when the doc looked at my MRIs he said L4 was slipping over L5 and needed stabilizing with "a couple of screws and a rod". He said it's that slippage that is causing the spondylothesis and it was much more important to get it fixed than the bulging disk at L5 S1. What I'm unclear about is whether he will be using "minimally invasive fusion" surgery. Apparently with minimally invasive surgery, he pushes muscle out of the way, instead of cutting through it, thus reducing the trauma and recovery time.

It's also hard to really define whether I'm just really "uncomfortable" with the pain or if I'd consider being in "agony". :) It just hurts and aches pretty bad when I ride very far or stand very long. I've lived with this pain for over twenty years, but it's gotten worse the last five years or so.

Thanks all,
David
 

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I haven't had such surgery, but my wife has had three. Based on her experiences, I offer these thoughts:

1. Do real research on the surgeon to determine their capabilities and history. Make sure they are credible. We wish we had done that on one of our surgeons.
2. Assuming you have a good doctor, listen to their prescribed recovery directions and follow them closely. My wife's third surgery resulted in correcting two herniated disks, spacing the three gaps between four disks and installing two rods attached to all four disks. She followed the recovery plan to a tee and came out of it in great shape.
3. It won't get better on its own. If you have the surgery, you should be able to get up and walk without the offending pain within an hour or so if it was successful. You will know pretty quickly if it was successful.

Good luck!!
 
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