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Cervical c4-5 disk herniation/horseback riding
9/26 8:59:35

I am a 40 yr female with a c4-5 disk herniation pressing on my spinal cord.I had a bad horseback riding accident Oct 05.I was thrown from a large horse ,fell about 6 ft on my head.Cracked the helmet in half.Had broken nose and collar bone and ligiment damage at c-5 to c-7.Recovered and returned to riding(dressage and jumping) in Dec with no difficulty.In July 06 my neck became stiff and sore and my right arm and right leg began to tingle .I have some nerve pain in hands and feet.PT did not help.Steroids did not help.My Neurosurgeon explianed that I could have surgery to place a bone graft ,plates and screws to stablize my neck but it is up to me .He said it may not get rid of all my symptoms.He also said it wasn't a have to kinda of thing.Now my delima.Do I ride? I am a uppper level rider and riding has been my life since the age of 12.My Doctor says I'm an adult and I know the risk.What will happen if I continue to ride?Is there anything else out there that might allow me to continue my passion without making my neck worse?I realize I should not jump or show anymore.Would appriciate any feedback.Staci

Dear Staci,

Do not give up hope!!  What you need to do is find a chiropractor who has trainning in cervical traction techniques as well as rehabilitation.  Your structure is obviously a problem as well as the stability of the ligamentous system, but thic can be helped with dynamic sustained cervical traction as well as phycial rehabilitation to address the lack of biomechanical muscular supportand ligamnetous laxity.  

This will entail a rigorous approach and will most likely take a few months to complete.  You should also be adding nutritional support so that the tissues can heal such as chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, MSM, omega III fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, and greatly increased antioxidant support.  Anti-inflammatory enzymes would be a bonus!

The first start is to apply axial traction to the neck which will relieve the compression component...2-3 times per day for a few weeks, specific stretching and exercises should be employed at alight level and nutritional considerations should be started immediately. (You will have to work up to longer times and increased wieght)

After the initial axial phase a more complex and difficult traction will apply and will be in a measured incremental manner to address your actual spinal structure on x-ray.  this can only be detrermined by x-ray analysis.  A posture pump person traction unit would be a great at home to utilize in between visits to the doctor for your rehab. You should buy an orthopedic pillow as well, get it from the doctor, not Target!  

To find a chiropractor proficient in structural rehabiliataion techniques go to:

Although you have a complicated case, you can be helped, I see patients like you often and get good results with most.  There are cases that do not get better, not many, but it does happen, so you need to be aware of that case surgical fusion may be your only course of action if you want to continue in your sport.

In the mean time, yes you can ride, but I would not be jumping, and posting will definitely cause more compression of the cervical disk....use caution and your best judgement.

Staci, I know this was brief so if you need to follow-up feel free to do so and I will do my best to go more in depth on specifics.

Dr. J. Shawn Leatherman

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