Spinal surgery & Diving

7 years 11 months ago #22333 by bluerob101
bluerob101 created the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
I have had 2 different medical opinions concerning diving after having a spinal fusion operation.

One opinion is to give it a rest for 12-16 months and another is to give it away totally due to an increased risk of "Neurological Decompression Illness."

Have any divers had spinal fusion surgery and had any issues or is everything cool.

Prior to the surgery, I was happy to cruise around 30m as a max depth using nitrox predominately.

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7 years 11 months ago #252639 by dteubner
dteubner replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Be interested to hear what others think but I don't get the neurological DCI thing at all, it's the bones that are fused.

I would have thought that if you can lift the gear and climb out of the water then you can dive. I don't really see any specific diving things at all.

Dave T

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7 years 11 months ago #252640 by Rick
Rick replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
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7 years 11 months ago #252641 by Steve
Steve replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Dave, wouldn't Rob have nerve compression now? Pre surgery I mean.

For what it is worth I have had several back surgeries, not a fusion though, and have had a post op neuro DCS hit. The interesting bit is that the hit occurred at a different spot to the surgery sites.

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7 years 11 months ago #252646 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
I did have nerve compression prior to the surgeries.

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7 years 11 months ago #252650 by dteubner
dteubner replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Yeah, but the nerve compression affects the spinal nerves as they exit the holes between the vertebra. The disc presses on these nerves and causes symptoms. Removing the disc removes the pressure and the symptoms go away - which may take quite a long time.

Once the surgery is done there should be no pressure issues, so no increased DCI risk.

Once everything is better, I think you should be OK to dive (which is what I did after my neck discectomy and fusion). The only real concern (again once everything has settled) is confusion between recurrent nerve root irritation and potential DCI if you get symptoms in a similar distribution post diving - I don't reckon that is a real problem though.

FWIW I didn't feel completely right for about 4 months

And, of course, the opinions expressed in this post are of a general nature and should not be taken as personal professional advice.[;)]

Dave T

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7 years 11 months ago #252667 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Dave, appreciate the comments.

I still have some symptoms. Dr's aren't sure if its recovery related or a continuation of my issues.

The neurological DCI is an increased risk due to scare tissue I am told (I don't know, I am just a lowly office boy).

I think that I might sell some of my gear (remove the temptation) and see how I go.

Then I have an excuse to buy BRAND NEW gear later.

On a side issue, I highly recommend Income Protection Insurance to all divers. Its tax deductible and its saved me from financial ruin.

Thanks again.

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7 years 11 months ago #252669 by fathom
fathom replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
I had a spinal fusion 4 years ago. I think the only thing that kept me going was wanting to get back in the water again. Recovery can be a long process and after checking with my surgeon, I celebrated with my first dive 9 months later on the Yongala. Looking back maybe a shallow dive with not so much current would have been a bit better but I was fine.
I was also very lucky as my husband was always there to help me with tank etc. so as to not put a lot of strain on my back.
I also found that cold weather and cold water made my back very stiff and sore. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to move from Victoria to Cairns and that made things much better.

This is only my experience so I can't really tell you how you will be. Just remember that it can take a couple of years to fully recover from such a big operation. You will have good days and bad days but in the long run you will have your life back. And that feels SO GOOD!!
Good luck.
Julie ( Mrs Fathom)

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7 years 11 months ago #252671 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Thanks Mrs Fathom. Words of encouragement are greatly appreciated!

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7 years 7 months ago #258937 by rose2852
rose2852 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
I broke/dislocated C6-7 in early 2009 c/o a body surfing accident and subsequently had surgery to fuse C5-7. I was lucky as I got my life back.
I was cleared to dive at 9 weeks post op and had my first outing (in Sydney) in early April 09, about 3 months after the accident. At first, I geared up in the water, but now gear up the same as everyone else. I went at it carefully in the early days - nothing deeper than 20-25m. Now I'm a bit more adventurous.
I'm just back from the tropics, where I regularly dived to 40-45m with no ill effects. I'm also pretty fit which probably helps.
The only legacy of the accident is tingling in my right forefinger and thumb, something I can live with.
Fwiw, 18 months on, things are still improving.

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7 years 7 months ago #258948 by Nautilus
Nautilus replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
I've had a L4/L5 Laminectomy/Discectomy about 4 years ago. Still feel pain 24/7, but diving relieves most of the pain for a while.


I'm still trying to get workcover to pay for some new dive gear and a boat, strictly as a treatment option... [|)]

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7 years 7 months ago #258972 by diver scott
diver scott replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Im no expert, but i guess what they are worried about is the scar tissue left around the area, which depending on the type of op, could be considerable. There may also be some residual scarring around the nerve root and even spinal cord depending on the ammount and time of nerve irritation. Scar tissue (from my memory) is a possible cause of increased risk of DCS, so i guess thats what they are talking about with you.
What does all this say about when you can go back and dive?
No idea sorry, guess you need to be guided by your Dr. (especially if insurance is involved).

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1 year 8 months ago #302372 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Its been a few years since I posted and I don't want to think how long its been since I last dived, but, the doctors advice is still the same - you'll possibly die. I've had 4 x more surgeries since my last post on here and a few heart attacks that ended up requiring a stent being inserted. Didn't bother asking the heart specialist if I could dive again.

In a nutshell, the scar tissue around the spinal cord is the main issue.

I'm hoping that with medical science, I'll maybe one day be able to dive again.

Thanks for the replies and coments.

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1 year 8 months ago #302373 by AB
AB replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Bluerob,
What aspect of diving do you miss the most? The visual experience, weightlessness, 3D movement, the social aspect???

Alan

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1 year 8 months ago #302375 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving

AB wrote: Bluerob,
What aspect of diving do you miss the most? The visual experience, weightlessness, 3D movement, the social aspect???

Alan


Alan

What do I miss the most?

The "the whole diving experience." What you've listed probably sums it up? Not being able to talk to humans was a good thing sometimes too.....

I was lucky enough to dive Lord Howe Island and also PNG, so, I won't die wondering about those places.

I really wanted to dive with great white sharks, but, missed that, would you believe, but a few months.

I'm ok, not looking for sympathy, but, I'm really spewing that I can't dive again.

There are people who are alot worse than me. I feel very sorry for those guys.

Sorry to be a downer type post.

I wonder how long it'll be before someone invents a free diving (i.e. not a submersible) device or suit that allows people to dive with a guarantee that DCS will not occur, under any circumstances...?

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1 year 8 months ago #302376 by AB
AB replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Atmospheric suits have been around for a long time, but mega expensive and for super deep diving, but there is interest in developing a recreational alternative. divermag.com/the-case-for-one-atmosphere-diving-exosuit/

I suppose if there was enough demand for such a suit, the clever engineers could turn out a 50 metre suit easily, as the tech is already there. Then 12 months later you could get knock offs for a fraction of the price on e bay!

I feel for you being kept out of the water, as I know people with similar challenges. If you are fit enough, could you do some shallow water ( less than 3 metres ) free diving? A couple of biologists in Melbourne wanted to prove people could have quality dive experiences in shallow water, so they took a basic point and shoot Canon and snorkelled the shallow reefs in Port Phillip Bay, producing a spectacular book Beneath Our Bay (John Gaskell). After viewing this book I decided if I could never scuba dive again, I would follow their example, hopefully getting half as many great images. Perhaps all you have lost are some options, but there are other opportunities?

Alan

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1 year 8 months ago #302379 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving

AB wrote: Atmospheric suits have been around for a long time, but mega expensive and for super deep diving, but there is interest in developing a recreational alternative. divermag.com/the-case-for-one-atmosphere-diving-exosuit/

I suppose if there was enough demand for such a suit, the clever engineers could turn out a 50 metre suit easily, as the tech is already there. Then 12 months later you could get knock offs for a fraction of the price on e bay!

I feel for you being kept out of the water, as I know people with similar challenges. If you are fit enough, could you do some shallow water ( less than 3 metres ) free diving? A couple of biologists in Melbourne wanted to prove people could have quality dive experiences in shallow water, so they took a basic point and shoot Canon and snorkelled the shallow reefs in Port Phillip Bay, producing a spectacular book Beneath Our Bay (John Gaskell). After viewing this book I decided if I could never scuba dive again, I would follow their example, hopefully getting half as many great images. Perhaps all you have lost are some options, but there are other opportunities?

Alan


Alan

Many thanks for your post. I've thought about free diving, but, it ain't really the same. I know that this may read as someone who has had a dummy spit, but, I doubt that I'd enjoy it. I could manage it, but, I doubt it. I live near water and see guys gearing up or getting out and my stomach turns.

Somehow, I doubt that I'll be able to afford a suit that guarantees no DCI. Unless NASA has had something available that is proven and costs the same as a dry suit or a bit more, I wouldn't want to chance it.

The scar tissue I have is a problem and then having muscle cramps in my back might prove a problem. Maybe one day I'll win lotto and be able to afford my own submersible (only want to get to 30m -I'm not greedy).

Thanks again for your reply Alan. I hope your diving every opportunity that comes your way!

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1 year 8 months ago #302380 by AB
AB replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Bluerob,
I'm fortunate to live hundreds of metres away from world class dives, have my own purpose built dive boat, and am married to an avid underwater photographer, but I have to admit, as I get into my 60's, I don't take every opportunity. Posts like yours open my eyes the the reality that these opportunities will run out, and I am encouraged to do more.

Seriously, next nice sunny day, find an easy shore reef and go for a snorkel, you will be surprised how entertaining it can be. What have you got to lose!

Alan

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1 year 8 months ago #302383 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Alan

I really appreciate your sentiments.

I spent 8 years harassing my parents many many years ago to allow me to get my ticket after a family friend let me "try it in the pool" as a kid. I think I signed up on my birthday or the day after my birthday.

After you spend nearly every spare minute in the water for 10 years with a snorkel, mask and fins and a hand spear, being able to actually dive was like the other 1st thing you do.....Couldn't wait to get back in.....

Nope, the idea of snorkeling isn't my idea of having a good time. I did see the book that you referenced, but, its just not for me. My younger brother has tried to get me to go parachuting with him. No interest at all on my part. I think he's insane and he thinks I'm insane for having dived.

Again, I really appreciate your comments, but, nope.

Best regards

Rob.

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1 year 8 months ago #302387 by Chriso
Chriso replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Hi Rob
I would get a second opinion if you are worried about the back and diving.

I have had in the last 2.5 years
L5/S1 microdiscectomy
L4/L5 microdiscectomy
L4/5 fusion in Feb last year.

Scar tissue for Africa all though my lower back.

Since the fusion I have smashed out I guess 50 or so dives to a max depth of 60m including a trip out with Mike Ball and a couple of weeks live-aboard in the Maldives with no problems, in fact the back feels fantastic after diving, way better than it does when I don't dive, I put it down to the higher PP of O2 :whistle:

Cheers
Chriso

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1 year 8 months ago #302392 by bluerob101
bluerob101 replied the topic: Spinal surgery & Diving
Chriso

2 x neurosurgeon's, 1 x diving doctor (one whose on SPUMS) and an ex Police diver whose trained in running a chamber have all said to give it up.

This ain't the kind of sport to dick around with, so, I'll probably sell of what's left of my gear -I'm selling 2 x AGA masks with comms if anyone is interested. In the Classifieds section.

Thanks again for the replies.

Go diving!

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