Author Topic: Back surgery advice  (Read 10467 times)


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Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2021, 03:17:56 PM »
Hi all,

Well, it's been a while since I've trolled the posts of the Zone--one of my favorite past-times for a few years there.  Just thought I'd send an update. 

Not gonna lie, I've been to hell and back....welllll, I actually wouldn't say I'm quite back yet....but hopefully on my way.

I've been nursing a back injury for close to a decade now--my two lowest joints are basically f-cked (L4-L5-S1). In November 2019, it took a turn for the worse.  In June 2020, I had a back surgery performed that installed some posterior dynamic stabilization rods (see my post above).  I went into that surgery hoping it would stabilize things enough, but knew there was a 50/50 chance I'd need full fusion.  The procedure helped a little, and after 9 months of physiotherapy (by spring of 2021), I was starting to mountain bike again and was thinking about getting back on a SUP (I haven't been on my SUP since September 2019--booooo!).  But things took a turn for the worse in May and I ended up having fusion surgery in July. Then, I had surgery on my right foot in September 2021 to take care of a bone-on-bone joint from when I broke my heel in 2018 (I had subtalar fusion).

So I'm in the middle of a pretty crazy recovery.  I've just started walking again after 7 weeks.  My body is weak--especially my right leg and my core/back.  My right calf, quad and hamstring have fully atrophied.  My glutes do not want to fire. I'm in a lucky position work-wise to be able to take a full year off to focus on rehab and that's what I'm doing.  Besides my family, it's now 100% my focus (so I guess it's 60% my focus?).  I see a physiotherapist and a massage therapist weekly.  I do a prescribed physio routine daily.  I walk and squat in a pool every other day.  Some practitioners keep saying "you'll get there in 3-6 months".  But the ones that I really trust say I'm going to need 12-18 months at least. So who knows how far I'll get, and when I'll get there. It's early stages and walking hurts like crazy.

With so much downtime on my hands this fall, I've been back to editing videos to help keep my mind working. I'm posting quite a few mountain bike videos, but I'm starting to upload some old SUP videos I made a few years ago (mash up clips of rippers like Mo Freitas, Giorgio Gomez, Kieran Grant, Jess Leedy, Kai Lenny, etc). I'll be posting them every other week or so well into January. If you are interested, have a look at

For while, I was making quite a few mash-ups. Two of them were of Zoners:



Anyways, here's to hoping that in 2022, I'll get back in the waves and back on the forum sharing the stoke.

- SA
« Last Edit: November 22, 2021, 03:21:54 PM by surfafrica »
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Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2021, 10:56:25 PM »
Tough road you have had. Thanks for giving an update, even if it is not a party.
Sometimes a zoner just disappears and you wonder. You seem like a positive guy and that will be a big help.
Looking forward to the vids.


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Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2021, 05:55:04 AM »
Good luck and thanks for sharing. Many of us here have been there with a long downward spiral of injury and finding a solution. Take care of the mental part.
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Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #33 on: November 26, 2021, 09:30:00 AM »
Thanks for the update.  I am hoping for the best recovery possible for you.
2020 was my worst year.  I fractured my sacrum which led to sciatica pain.  It took about a year to recover, very nervous that it would never improve along the way.  The two books that helped me were:
Stuart McGill's book has some self tests.  Any tests that cause pain are movements to be avoided.
John Sarno's book teaches you about how the mind influences pain.  It taught me that thinking or anticipating the pain (missing a pill), would heighten my awareness of the pain.  That book allowed me to get off pain meds cold turkey and have a noticeable improvement in pain level, while at the same time teaching me to ignore the pain.
Somebody said that motion is lotion.  I believe movement helped my recovery, which was very surf sup focused.
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Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #34 on: November 26, 2021, 10:15:49 AM »
Twenty years  ago I blew out L4-L5 and L5-S1 and the MRI showed bulging into the spinal cord with general degenerating disk desease in both disks. Shooting sciatica nerve pain and constant refered pain into my calf and outer right toes. Had to lay flat on my back for two weeks just to be able to barely walk and get to the physical therapist. Saw both an ortho and neuro surgeon and they both wanted to do surgery after I had stabilized with PT. Someone thankfully suggested I see a physiatrist (think of this specialty as a navigator thru the other my-way or the highway physicians). He said that sure you can get surgery, but in 10 years the lines of betterness would cross and you will be worse than if had you just followed a rigorous rehab path. This physiatrist manages serious injuries for the SF Giant football team BTW. So the journey with the physiatrist began: 6 more months of PT till I had plateaued on improvement, then started accupuncture to quench the refered leg pain and that got me to a new level of movement and a new plateau.  After 1 year, I could windsurf flat water and swim again at least with much care, Mt biking no way, running no way. My goal was to get back to normal wavesailing, skiing, surfing, Mt biking and sex. The physiatrist said that inflamation was holding me back at this point and I still had general low back pain and stiffness. Next he suggested massage threatment 2/week and that felt great but basically turned into a 1 day reprieve from pain, similar to what the accupuncture basically did, but the strategy was to manage the inflamation to get to the next plateau. After 2 years he said I was ready for Pilates with a trained PT, note trained PT and pilates person. That started off very slow due to my poor mobilty in lower spine, but wow did I learn how to strengthen my core, stretch key hamstrings for back pain relief, learned how to stand, posture, learned how to sneeze with back issues, side sleeping skiils and overall body health. It did not hurt that all the folks in the Pilates studio were recovering dancers either :-)  Joe Montana used this studio for injury recovery. After 1 year of Pilates 2/week I started wavesailing again but could not really jump due to compression at landing. The Pilates instructor basically said I had a weak core, likely due to the lack of gravity sports in youth thru age 18 (I was swimmer/water polo junkie). So, now we get down to business on core, I buy my own Pilates reformer and I am doing Pilates dailiy at home and  1/week in studio (another 2 years in studio) and guess what I have been doing home pilates  for the last 15 years. I ski, wavesail jump, Mt bike, good sex, run, SUP surf, swim hard... Basically the only think I cant do now is prone surf pop up to standing. My L4-L5 and L5-S1 are bascially auto-fused as the physiatrist calls it. I still have pain when I sit > 1 hrs, so I am a mover pain manager.  Yes, I am lucky to have the financial capability and time to do all that, but hey, I worked 40 sit/stand/walk hrs/week thru it all, got married and had a kid. My heart goes out to all with low back pain out there, it can be overcome and you can live with/thru/past it.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2021, 10:36:23 AM by sailwave »
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