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Old 07-30-2014, 12:52 AM   #1
ChrisMikk's Avatar
Dojo: Mugenjuku
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 107
anyone training with a c-spine injury?

It turns out I have a herniated disc between my C5 and C6 vertebrae (that's in the neck). The doctor recommended (of course) that I stop aikido, then in response to my look recommended I not fall on my head or neck.

Herniated discs never get better and can't be fixed except with surgery, but that's only for very extreme cases.

I am wondering if there anyone here who is training with a herniated disc in their neck. How is it going? Do you modify your practice? Do you take risks? Do you ever worry about it?

I note this post from Kevin Leavitt, but that is all I found by searching the archives of this forum.

My symptoms started after an incorrect nikajo (nikyo) osae, but may be related to trying hiyaku ukemi with a poorly performed kotegaeshi or have no relation to aikido. I have a pins and needles sensation from my right shoulder down into my right thumb, which has lost a lot of sensation. It is pretty much constant, but sometimes gets better or worse. My MRI looks pretty much like this:
I will try to alleviate the symptoms with vitamin B12 but that is all.
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Old 07-30-2014, 07:30 AM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 22
United Kingdom
Re: anyone training with a c-spine injury?


forgive me for being boring but you need to sit down with your doctor and have a full and frank discussion regarding your injury. This should include:

Treatment possibilities within a time line including best and worse case scenarios.
Aikido and other physical activities.
Overall risk arising from aikido/ specific exercise.

I speak from experience - I had two discs replaced at C4/5 & C5/6. Initially they wanted to 'fuse' the discs until I refused after a very long discussion with one surgeon who then introduced me to another surgeon who was more open minded. I then had to have another serious discussion with this surgeon on when I could parachute again.

I recommend reading some medical journals/ scientific papers on your condition. Your doctor may fob you off. You cannot allow this to happen and being prepared will help him to realise you are serious. After all it is your body and your life and thus your responsibility.

I am fully back to aikido and can do everything from rolling to tobi ukemi.

Cervical prolapsed discs are serious: two of the three heads of my right tricep are dead or dying. The same is true of my right pectoralis minor. I have less feeling in my feet resulting in a heavier step and a loss of power, this has also increased my injury from running. Furthermore I have varying degrees of muscle entropy in my right leg. Finally I have spasmodic spasticity which is a pain. I am also more prone to groin injuries (I don't know why). The above are with me for life and can be managed but they are a direct result of a severe compression of the spinal cord.

My advice again is to engage with your doctor until you get the answers you are looking for. You really need to sit down and explain your life style to the doctor and agree a treatment/ course of action which will take you to where you want to be. However be prepared for bad news or be prepared to except a life change.

Best of luck.

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Old 08-04-2014, 11:06 AM   #3
ChrisMikk's Avatar
Dojo: Mugenjuku
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 107
Re: anyone training with a c-spine injury?

Thanks, Paul. This is good advice. Hopefully with management, my situation won't degenerate any more.
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Old 12-09-2014, 05:55 PM   #4
fatebass21's Avatar
Dojo: Westminster Tenshinkai Aikido Dojo
Location: Fountain Valley, CA
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 280
Re: anyone training with a c-spine injury?

Hi Christian,

I just returned to training after an 8 year absence. When I stopped training in 2006 I did so at the advice of my physician as I had just learned that I have an S-shaped curvature of the spine (scoliosis). This would explain my recurring sciatica pain, which I didn't realize I was having and thought I was repeatedly pulling my hammy. I am also prone to groin pulls and strains because my hips have an anterior tilt and my right greater trochanter has an upslip of approximately 2mm (right leg shorter than the left).At any rate, over the years I took up running and swimming. My back will never get better and my sciatica pain will come and go. I never want to have surgery as more than half may be successful in correcting anatomical deficiencies, but resulting muscle imbalances and pain will allow for functional deficits to continue.

The best thing that you can do is take Paul's advise and consult more directly with your doc. But don't stop there....ultimately the responsibility is YOURS to stay fit and healthy so as to control your condition.

Why did I return to the dojo? Because I ran a Tough Mudder in October with no training and finished with flying colors. This made me realize that with proper caution, strengthening, and stretching I could get back to the one thing that I enjoyed over all else.

It is amazing what eustress as a result of being able to train at the dojo can do for the body.

Stay in touch.

Chris Sawyer
Training day is every day
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