Anyone with a spinal fusion?

Berry78

Active Member
Hello all,

My 16 year old daughter had a spinal fusion a couple years ago. She can bend her neck and hip, but it is fused all the way in between. Her Dr. said she can ride a bike. She can't twist her torso, and you can imagine how much weight she'd have to hold on her hands if she has to lean forward.

So, what sort of bike frame style should we concentrate on? I imagine she would be most comfortable on a bike that lets her sit up straight enough to balance a book on her head.

Anyone with first hand experience?
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Hello all,

My 16 year old daughter had a spinal fusion a couple years ago. She can bend her neck and hip, but it is fused all the way in between. Her Dr. said she can ride a bike. She can't twist her torso, and you can imagine how much weight she'd have to hold on her hands if she has to lean forward.

So, what sort of bike frame style should we concentrate on? I imagine she would be most comfortable on a bike that lets her sit up straight enough to balance a book on her head.

Anyone with first hand experience?
Yes I had three discs removed, with three vertebrae fused in succession, and enough titanium installed to make a decent set of handlebars. For me, a dead straight, vertical torso body position causes spine compression and nerve pain. I much prefer a MTB or hybrid's forward lean to a cruiser or city bike's dead straight seated position.

It's nearly impossible to rationalize what should be good through logic, everyone's different. Getting a bicycle that fits is so important for anyone, but more so for people with spine issues. Almost everyone has access to professional bike fitting services these days. Having a professional advise you on the size and type of frame that best fits your daughter could be the difference between a bike she'll enjoy and ride for many, many years and a bike that'll collect dust in the shed, because it's too painful to ride.

I assume you're in Cumberland MD? I don't know if you have a bike fitter there, but I do know those services are available in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Columbia MD and Harrisburg PA. Just Google "bike fitter near x". For about 60-100 dollars you could save a lot of trial, error and pain.

Cycling is an amazing pastime and fitness tool. It's the best exercise for people with spine issues. An hour in the saddle gives you both cardio and strength training. Not only physical benefits, a bike takes you to amazing places, where you meet amazing people. Living in Western Maryland, you have endless supply of great destinations. I wish you and your daughter the best in this endeavor.
 

Berry78

Active Member
Great suggestion! I haven't heard of a bike fitting...the local shops just throw you on a bike and ask if you like it.

Oh, and she has 13 vertebrae fused (T3-L3), so it will be interesting if she discovers the same thing...
 
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irenewg13

Active Member
And I have a Pedego 24" Interceptor. I too have had lamenectomies and ddd, especially in the neck.
I sit up straight on my bike, the easily adjustable handle bars (fwd/back) help alot.
 

irenewg13

Active Member
Great suggestion! I haven't heard of a bike fitting...the local shops just throw you on a bike and ask if you like it.

Oh, and she has 13 vertebrae fused (T3-L3), so it will be interesting if she discovers the same thing...
13 fusions, wow, I hope she's able to find the right bike and rides well.
 

Berry78

Active Member
Thanks...yep, it was a pretty major surgery/recovery. She is doing great, but it is definitely lifestyle-altering.
 

MLB

Well-Known Member
Hello all,

My 16 year old daughter had a spinal fusion a couple years ago. She can bend her neck and hip, but it is fused all the way in between. Her Dr. said she can ride a bike. She can't twist her torso, and you can imagine how much weight she'd have to hold on her hands if she has to lean forward.

So, what sort of bike frame style should we concentrate on? I imagine she would be most comfortable on a bike that lets her sit up straight enough to balance a book on her head.

Anyone with first hand experience?
I would highly recommend trying a few recumbent trikes, either delta or tadpole, they are so back friendly (for Most) it's crazy. If she can find one that lets her be comfortable the back support while letting you move your legs freely is very therapeutic for many of us. When my back is really tight (muscle/pinched nerve problems, not structural like your daughters) it's either massage or a ride on my recumbent trike.
While most trikes are a fixed seat angle, some (Wizwheelz and others) have adjustable seat back angles.
Many recumbents are used by handicapped people and there are tons of customization available, like grab handles to assist getting up and down, etc.
If you go to bentrideronline.com you can read a bunch about them, see tons of available trikes and ask the same questions.
Any regular bike still puts a lot of weight on the tailbone, which may or may not work her. The bents sling seat spreads the load over your entire tushy AND back (different degrees at different seat angles)
My mom had 2 fusions and she could ride my trike comfortably. Your daughter got much more restriction of course, but I would highly recommend trying them at least!
As with MTB's suspension is becoming very popular and would likely help her even more. Falco E assist hub in my Catrike Expedition - oops, this pic before the Falco
 

irenewg13

Active Member
Good idea, I was wondering how a 3 wheel would do. If she can't twist and has limited movement, I would be concerned with her ability to manage control of the bike: on, off, stop, etc..

MLB, I've always wondered how one with back issues could keep their legs up in that position. I understand that the peddling would have counter support. But, to be in that semi-reclining position and keeping legs up... guess it's a body mechanics thing. I will try one, next time I stop in to Lenny's.
 

DisabledWheelz

New Member
I would highly recommend trying a few recumbent trikes, either delta or tadpole, they are so back friendly (for Most) it's crazy. If she can find one that lets her be comfortable the back support while letting you move your legs freely is very therapeutic for many of us.
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Any regular bike still puts a lot of weight on the tailbone, which may or may not work her. The bents sling seat spreads the load over your entire tushy AND back (different degrees at different seat angles)
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Hello! The trike you posted looks super comfy! I am wondering where you ride? Are you in a mainly surbuban area? Stick mainly to trails?
I am wondering if you feel that you have any additional safety concerns due to being lower to the ground on a bike like this that limit you from riding in more urban areas (even more increased risk of being right-hooked because someone doesn't see you, etc..)?
 

Berry78

Active Member
For my daughter, if we go with a recumbant, we would limit her riding to very quiet residential streets and bike paths. No traffic riding for sure!
Curious to hear what MLB does.