Broken neck – return to riding?

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  • Broken neck – return to riding?
  • Hi Mike

    I crushed and cracked two vertebra in my neck around ten years ago.
    I was off the bike for a while, and suffered a not-insignificant amount of pain for months, but I got back riding ok really and after about 8months I never thought about it.

    Then I crashed and disrupted it all over again.
    Sorry – that won’t help you much I’m sure!

    If it makes you feel better though, it healed fine, I was riding again pretty quickly after the second occasion and have suffered no real issues since. A quick tune up at the chiropractor every now and then is all it needs.

    crotchrocket
    Member

    Hi mike,
    Mine was C5, smashed to bits & my buddy broke C6. between us we’ve seen a fair bit of the inside of hospitals.
    If you want to talk – my email is in my profile, but I’m not dropping my experiences all over a public site. HTH

    Premier Icon miketbrown
    Subscriber

    Back in March this year I managed to break my neck in 3 places (casing a gap jump with my head). I’m very lucky to now be well on the road to near-full recovery. The spinal consultant has said that I could start riding again in a month.

    My problem is confidence. I want to attack trails and ride hard. That’s one of the main things what gives me the joy in riding. Just that the thought of going over the bars – or any unplanned exit off the bike – on or near my head, fills me with horror. At the same time I realise that I have to accept that accidents are an inevitable.

    Has anyone here, had the same misfortune to do fracture their neck/back and then found their way back into riding? I’d love to hear from you and hopefully learn a little from your experience.

    Thanks
    Mike

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    My wife suffered a serious neck injury wakeboarding (jumping). If she did something remotely similar again she would almost certainly be paralysed. The surgery option has a 30% chance of ending up in a wheelchair too.

    She still wakeboards and does spins but no jumping now. What you do OP depends on the results of another bad crash. There is a whole lot of riding you can do wothout jumping, I can vouch for that ! Good luck, I know how difficult it is to step back from something you love doing due to injury, perhaps thats the choice you have to make,

    aidem
    Member

    Hi Mike
    I suffered stable fractures of C4 and 5 due to going otb, tried to roll but wasn’t going quick enough landed on my head helmet split front to back….was back riding in 5 months confidence totally shot though, that was 12 years ago and took a while to get it back, has slowed me down but maybe that’s a good thing doesn’t stop me enjoying my biking

    Premier Icon Wookster
    Subscriber

    If you’re wearing a Fullface would you consider a Leatt brace? Might help knowing give git an additional level of protection?

    taxi25
    Member

    Time. Were as I’ve never broken my neck I’ve had a shocking number of injuries over the years !!! Both from mtb and motocross. Once you get the okay just start riding. Once you start to get fit your confidence will return, it always has with me anyway. Just take it step by step and you’ll forget the trauma. Just think of women and child berth, women often have more than one baby even though they swear the first one will be the last.

    Tom_W1987
    Member

    If you must keep hitting big stuff – Leatt brace plus Leatt DBX helmet, chest and back protector and ride within your limits.

    Injury and risk goes up the faster you go and the more technical the terrain, so get better at making this risk assessment.

    hora
    Member

    In three places? Why not trail ride, cut out doubles etc?

    You are probably stressing yourself out wanting to do stuff again yet at the sametime abit of anxiety. This is what is effecting your confidence.

    Euro
    Member

    Not as severe as yours Mike, but i ruptured 2 discs in my neck in April 2012 (i know this date as i have the crash that caused it on video 😆 ). I was off the bike for the guts of a year and during that time my thoughts went from believing i’d never would ride again (very hard to take for someone who has cycled since the age of 4) to constantly thinking about getting back on the bike and everything in between. When i eventually got back in the saddle i found i had to consciously alter my riding position and adjust my controls to make myself comfortable (you don’t realise how much strain you put on your neck while riding until to do it some damage). It took a month or two of just riding about to ingrain my new riding style (a bit more rigid than before) but once i felt comfortable just pedaling about and riding on rough stuff the next thing i did was start hitting jumps (was a dirt jumper in a previous life). I felt like i’d missed out on so much fun riding that i wanted to see if i was still able. Although a little nervous on the run in, it went without incident. I’m a firm believer in getting back on the horse and facing your fears ASAP. I know that i’m one good crash away from being put back in a similar position (still do my physio) but lifes too short to worry about things that may never happen. Weirdly i’m currently recovering from a lower back injury that’s kept me off my brand new bike – caused by lifting a suitcase FFS! It just goes to show injuries can happen anytime, doing anything.

    My advice would be to spend a little time getting used to just riding – the confidence will come back sooner than you think.

    Good luck fella.

    Why not trail ride, cut out doubles etc?

    For some people, me included, the best thing about riding a bike is floating through the air 😀

    bigyinn
    Member

    Just start riding and take it easy, build up your confidence (and fitness), over time it will return.
    Perhaps a skills course might help too? (In terms of confidence and technique).

    Premier Icon miketbrown
    Subscriber

    Many thanks for your comments and helpful advice.
    I fractured C2, C3 and C7. C2 is the main problem, which is split across and down and the lower half was in an unstable burst fracture. All this seems to be healing up now – thankfully without surgery.
    I think I’ll start off on my hard-tail – very gentle XC rides, get fitter and then progress from there with time. I’ll definitely be using full-face & neck brace for any bike park / alpine trips. Definitely no more gap jumps. Period.

    crotchrocket
    Member

    I wouldn’t touch a neck brace with a 50ft pole – I’ve yet to see any independent medical evidence they provide positive benefits.

    I wouldn’t touch a neck brace with a 50ft pole – I’ve yet to see any independent medical evidence they provide positive benefits.

    My injury was caused by hitting a tree backwards and over extending my neck.
    Had I been wearing a full face and neck brace I’m pretty confident it would’ve prevented it as it simply stops your head from moving that far back.

    Tom_W1987
    Member

    Good article on neck braces

    http://www.dirtrider.com/features/the-neck-brace-should-you-wear-one

    The way I read that, is that to decrease axial loading – you really want a helmet that is going to limit the spiking that occurs during a crash. So if you really care about it, if you can’t find the data – at least find a helmet where the company has gone to some length to try to reduce this. LEATT and Kali spring to mind.

    I might email them actually to ask their technicians/engineers their opinion….the damage done during an axial loading event is during the first 8 m/s.

    So I really want to find the timescale used for that graph and the original data.

    Tom_W1987
    Member

    Stuff like this

    makes me want to do a biomechanics masters. Looks an awesome place to work.

    Premier Icon miketbrown
    Subscriber

    Many thanks for all your responses.
    I’ve been back on the bike for about 2 weeks now and been out riding about 6 times – just very easy gentle rides on the Marlborough Downs close to home. Confidence and fitness is coming back, slowly but surely.

    However I am getting a fair amount of muscle cramping at the back of the neck on the downhill’s. To be expected I guess as all the ligaments, tendons etc. were badly damaged in the accident. For those of you who have had neck fractures, have you experienced the same type of pain and did it ease with time?

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