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  1. #1
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    ready to get BACK in shape after L5-S1 fusion

    I originally joined bodybuilding.com back in 2013, but I never had the motivation to go through with my goals. I suffered an accident in 2011 where I fractured my L5 vertabrae. Since then everyday life has been a struggle, severe pain shooting down my legs into my feet and numbness in my lower legs have plagued me for 5 years. I've tried back braces, shots, months of intense physical therapy, but nothing seemed to work. It all came to a head in early April when I severly hurt my back while trying to run. The doctor looked me in the face and told me that if I didn't have surgery I would permantly damage the nerves going to my legs and feet. So I finally had to face the reality that I had been trying to avoid for years. I had the spinal fusion surgery...... it was pretty awful, but as soon as I woke up the pain and numbness in my legs were gone!! Now I'm on a slow road to recovery and hope to get back into bodybuilding when the doc clears me.

    Pic is the day before surgery.
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  2. #2
    Bloody but unbowed fittofattofit's Avatar
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    You've got a great frame and it looks like you've still got a lot of mass there.
    I assume that you had a sports or lifting background before the injury 5 years ago and that you managed to keep up with some training, but it's good news about the result of the fusion and it's great that you're keen to start lifting again
    Good luck
    "Better to wear out than rust out!"

    Squat 165kg/363lbs
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  3. #3
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Thanks, I played rugby for a while. I've always loved lifting, but I've really been limited to dips, pull-ups, and suspension training (trx). Had a hard time staying lean without running and deadlifts. But I'll get there!!
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  4. #4
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Well I am happy to say that I grew an inch after surgery!! (even though it was an inch that I had lost over the years). I'll be posting regular updates on the recovery process. But keep in mind, this is my rehab, I do not plan nor intend to be some youtube fitness guru. I'm pretty much as low as you can get on the totem pole right now, But at least I can walk around!!

    Last edited by RDOG21; 05-05-2016 at 12:10 PM.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  5. #5
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Finally found an arm workout that doesn't go over my 5 pound restriction. Maybe I'll look like Popeye in a few weeks!!!

    Attached Images
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  6. #6
    Live Young ~ Die Free Diamhea's Avatar
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    Good luck with this. Back injuries are no joke.
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  7. #7
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    UPDATE!!!

    It has been exactly 3 weeks since surgery, my back is still really swolen, but progress is good. 14 days ago it took me an hour to walk a mile, and now I have cut my pace down to 21 min. per mile. But, I really wanna get back at lifting weights as soon as my back allows.

    Attached Images
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  8. #8
    Bloody but unbowed fittofattofit's Avatar
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    That's a very decent distance and a reasonable pace so that sounds very good to me. Do you have any pain now?
    "Better to wear out than rust out!"

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  9. #9
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    A small amount of pain, 2-3 out of 10. I had way more pain in my legs and back before surgery, now I only have pain in my back, but I can tell that it is decreasing. I quit taking all my pain meds at 2 weeks (being constapated from narcotics was making my back hurt more!!!). It will be a long recovery process, Im not allowed to stretch yet and I can tell my hamstrings are super tight. However, I do know that before sugery I wouldn't have been able to walk that long because my foot would go to sleep.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  10. #10
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    One of the many reasons why I'm quitting the gym.......

    Walked for 2 hours yesterday, got all kinds of sunburn; so today I decided to use what's left of my gym membership (expires the 31st). I walked on the treadmill, away from the evil sun. AND........... Of couse I had to go over to the wieghts right??? they were calling me.... Anyhow, my restriction on lifting is up to 10 pounds now!!!!!!!!!!! what better way to celebrate than to grab two 5 pounders and bang out some side delts.

    Then, from the corner, gym rat asks for a spot on bench. I told him I was injured and I couldn't spot anyone for a while. THEN gym rat says, "you look fine to me." That really made me mad, so I showed him my scar..... then the idiot was still mad, he then said, "if I can't get it you'd only have to lift, like, 2 pounds."

    So I just left the gym, in hindsight I should've just gone over there and when he really needed a spot..... say, "sorry bro, gotta go" and just left him there.... LOL

    Anyhow, here is a pick of my scar. AKA, my extended buttcrack. still very swollen.

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    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  11. #11
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Professional walker

    Update.

    4 weeks since surgery and I walked 8 miles relatively pain-free. Just started on "light" stretching, i can reach to about mid-shin. I can also do a sumo squat (body weight only) and go to parallel while keeping my feet flat. 2 more weeks and I start physical therapy. And then one day lift weights again.

    Are there any other members who can lift weights after a spinal fusion???

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    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  12. #12
    Bloody but unbowed fittofattofit's Avatar
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    Badass looking scar! Should have offered the spot and then dropped it
    "Better to wear out than rust out!"

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  13. #13
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  14. #14
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  15. #15
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Update:

    Three months out of surgery and did some Maxing out today.

    Squat 150 lbs.
    Deadlift 160 lbs.
    Bench 235 lbs.

    for a total of 545
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  16. #16
    Live Young ~ Die Free Diamhea's Avatar
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    So are you making the progress as quickly as you'd like?
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  17. #17
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Diamhea View Post
    So are you making the progress as quickly as you'd like?
    No, I'd like to be 100% today...... But I can't compain. 6 weeks ago I couldn't do a barbell deadlift at all, I'm not rushing things, just keeping a steady pace and pushing myself a little further each day.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  18. #18
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Update. I'm going to my first powerlifting meet on Saturday. Battle of the Beasts in Tuscaloosa, recovery is slow and steady. My total is right over the 600 mark now.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  19. #19
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  20. #20
    Registered User ehirvijo's Avatar
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    Hey, would be nice to hear how you are doing now, a year and a half after your operation. Has your back improved close to normal, or do you have to restrain from lifting heavy triples etc? I'm asking as I'm in somewhat similar, though not in so severe situation as you were. My L5-S1 disc collapsed three years ago, and I could barely lift anything for two years while having constant pain in the lower back and sciatica in the leg from nerve compression. During the past year it has improved to a point that I no longer have sciatica and I can tolerate sets of 3x180kg in deadlift and 3x150kg in squat. Regardless I still have constant ache in the back because the narrowing of the disc space transfers loads to other structures around the L5 vertebra (facet joints mainly). There is practically only one solution for restoring the disc height at L5-S1 joint, namely fusion. Thus, I would like to hear from your experience now that it has been a while.

    _EERO_
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  21. #21
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    I have an L5/L4 disc issue in which the dr's want to do surgery, however, I keep getting told by everyone that I work with that has had back issues to hold off as long as possible. I am only 41 and in constant pain. Due to my job, my pain management medicine is non-narcotic and low dosage so basically it does nothing to ease the constant pain I am in. I refuse to let the VA do the surgery and my civilian dr says that the only type of surgery they could see would be to fuse the two discs together and put in rods. Due to the pain, I am limited in my exercise and to be honest, have been down about the weight and constant pain and let my diet go to sh!t which I am working to get back on track.

    My question to you is looking back post-surgery, would you do it again? Is the pain management better since the surgery? How is your movement after surgery? Do you see yourself moving around a lot better since? Thanks in advance for taking the time to read/respond to my post. Good luck with your rehabilitation/fitness goals.

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  22. #22
    Registered User RDOG21's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by skippy2254 View Post
    I have an L5/L4 disc issue in which the dr's want to do surgery, however, I keep getting told by everyone that I work with that has had back issues to hold off as long as possible. I am only 41 and in constant pain. Due to my job, my pain management medicine is non-narcotic and low dosage so basically it does nothing to ease the constant pain I am in. I refuse to let the VA do the surgery and my civilian dr says that the only type of surgery they could see would be to fuse the two discs together and put in rods. Due to the pain, I am limited in my exercise and to be honest, have been down about the weight and constant pain and let my diet go to sh!t which I am working to get back on track.

    My question to you is looking back post-surgery, would you do it again? Is the pain management better since the surgery? How is your movement after surgery? Do you see yourself moving around a lot better since? Thanks in advance for taking the time to read/respond to my post. Good luck with your rehabilitation/fitness goals.

    CRC
    Sorry for the delay. I've been busy this past year, moved into a new house (moved ourselves no "two men and a truck"), started back to school, and started running again......... I wouldn't have been able to do any of those things before surgery. So yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. My Squat is at 280, bench at 325, and dead lift is 235....so I'm coming along but slowly. Everyone freaked out that I was lifting weights but I never had any problems. The second something felt uncomfortable, or I felt my back starting to round I could just drop the weight and walk away. Bad form is what hurts people, whether healthy or overcoming an injury..... HOWEVER, about a year after surgery I started trying to run and jog again, and that has been very hard to do. I've pulled my hamstring twice, and my calf once. I pulled my hamstring so bad it bruised up and I was on crutches for a while. I was a little discouraged but there was never any pain after the fusion. For me, running is probably the hardest thing because it jars your body way more than lifting weights. In addition, your not in total control, for example, you can trip on an uneven sidewalk, step in a hole, etc. Also, my body feels different after surgery and I had to "re-learn" how to move, something to keep in mind.

    That being said, I would do surgery again, but I did delay it for 4 years. Some docs told me to have it ASAP others said to delay, so I think its worth while to see if your body can fix itself. But I didn't have surgery for the pain, I was having some motor function problems. I went from dead lifting 400 to 200 in a 6 month period, my feet were starting to fall asleep, and sometimes my legs would shake and twitch at night uncontrollably. That was the final straw for me. People with a traumatic injury may have to have surgery immediately, but I was born with a birth defect that revealed itself after a minor slip and fall. Anyhow..... yes, I would do it again, but I would also wait as long as I could. The physical therapy is grueling, and the recovery process all and all takes about two years. It can be frustrating because on the outside you look fine. People won't understand that you are hurting because you can stand up, and don't have a physical deformity (i.e. cast, crutches, brace). But its still worth it, L5-S1 is the least likely to cause problems later on, alot of people are born with those already fused and never know it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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  23. #23
    Registered User newenglandavid's Avatar
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    I wanted to thank you for this thread. I’m five weeks out from my own L5-S1 fusion, and every detail of your story is almost identical to mine. This is extremely encouraging to me that you were able to get back to lifting weights as early as you did. I need to hear all the success stories I can at this point. So thank you.
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    L4-5 S1 fusion

    I was healthy and working hard at my job first with a lot of weight and lots of repetition then latter another job not a lot of weight but an insane amount of repetition one day lifted an nine oz bag and blew my disc. I tried months and months of PT, seen all types of Dr.’s and went back to work. Tryied an experimental surgery ( melting the disc and fragments back to together, tried many shots nothing helped continued to work, finally saw a Nero Surgeon he did a fusion with two rods and the six screws and the cage, told me to never lift over 5 lbs ever for the rest of my life and to just go home and enjoy my family. Had no pain after the surgery for about 6 months then it all started coming back plus nerve damage in back and butt. Was on pain pills and still hurting went back had disc secytomy at T11-12 pain in back lessened but still had a lot of pain, ended up with scar tissue rapped around spinal cord from T11-12 surgery. I have been on a lot of pain meds got rid of most trying to get rid of last low dose one. I also had a neuro stimulated in planted to try and help with the leg pain, I still have leg and back pain EVERY DAY ! Around a 7 on good days. I’m not sharing for sympathy I just want others to really look at all options before surgery and pain pills. You get to wear the pain and limitations are so great that you are willing to try just about anything!!!!!!! Pain pills are very addicting and very hard and painful to come off of!!!!! Surgery in my opinion should be your last option. Here is why I say that after 5 back surgeries I’m no better off if anything I’m worse. I still have just as much pain as before plus from all the surgeries, I went through being on an insane amount of pain pills not fun to be on or come off of! I also have degenerating disc and some are due to my fusion!!! I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better off with out the surgeries the hardware that gets cold and hurts like arthritis, if MAYBE there wasn’t a program out there focused on those with bad backs to help strengthen our weak areas to help our body’s help them selves. I feel that most programs out there are to help you get stronger or get in shape ONLY if your already healthy. I hope this is not a downer I just wanted to share my roller coaster so maybe others might not have to. Happy trails and great health!!!!!!!
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    B.A.Canterbury bradcanterbury's Avatar
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    I would recommend sticking to body weight exercises for several months after an L5-S1 fusion. I use to love lifting heavy prior to my injury. Now it doesn't seem important at all. It's not worth injuring myself. If you want to lift heavy for lower body, I'd recommend isolated leg work. If I'm feeling the urge now-a-days, I see how heavy I can do IRDLs, Lunges, or Step Ups.

    I had mine done almost 2 years ago. I did a lot of core, hamstring and glute work. Bought me some furniture sliders for hamstring curls. Bodyweight or light weight IRDLs were great. Push Ups, dips, hand stands, band side laterals and pull ups were my favorites for upper body. Actually all these exercises are still great. My favorite workout has been rock climbing


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    Originally Posted by bradcanterbury View Post
    I would recommend sticking to body weight exercises for several months after an L5-S1 fusion. I use to love lifting heavy prior to my injury. Now it doesn't seem important at all. It's not worth injuring myself. If you want to lift heavy for lower body, I'd recommend isolated leg work. If I'm feeling the urge now-a-days, I see how heavy I can do IRDLs, Lunges, or Step Ups.

    I had mine done almost 2 years ago. I did a lot of core, hamstring and glute work. Bought me some furniture sliders for hamstring curls. Bodyweight or light weight IRDLs were great. Push Ups, dips, hand stands, band side laterals and pull ups were my favorites for upper body. Actually all these exercises are still great. My favorite workout has been rock climbing


    Attachment 9050861

    ......says powerlifting is dangerous, then posts a picture of himself 30 feet in the air with no ropes or harness......... thanks internet
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    2011 broken L5 vertebrae

    2016 L5-S1 spinal fusion. 2 rods, 4 screws, and bone graft from my hip.

    Recovery!! [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7i2NUrtH4E[/url]
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    Registered User ghostfacedup's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bradcanterbury View Post
    I would recommend sticking to body weight exercises for several months after an L5-S1 fusion. I use to love lifting heavy prior to my injury. Now it doesn't seem important at all. It's not worth injuring myself. If you want to lift heavy for lower body, I'd recommend isolated leg work. If I'm feeling the urge now-a-days, I see how heavy I can do IRDLs, Lunges, or Step Ups.

    I had mine done almost 2 years ago. I did a lot of core, hamstring and glute work. Bought me some furniture sliders for hamstring curls. Bodyweight or light weight IRDLs were great. Push Ups, dips, hand stands, band side laterals and pull ups were my favorites for upper body. Actually all these exercises are still great. My favorite workout has been rock climbing


    Attachment 9050861
    You had fusion done?


    How's the fusion going OP? Any pain or is it pretty much back to normal?
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