View Full Version : Cervical spine issues

Susie Rosenberg
08-25-2007, 10:09 AM
I have a moderate degree of osteoathritis in my cervical spine. I had some manageable degree of chronic pain in my neck, shoulder and left arm until a nasty spill off my bike at high speed sealed the deal, and I wound up with two herniated discs (C5/6 and C6/7). Last November, I had those two discs removed and the two vertebrae fused with metal plates and screws. (My husband like to say I finally got my head screwed on straight.)


I healed great, complete absence of pain, just left with a slight relative weakness of my left arm, only noticeable when I do bench presses or overhead lifts. It's not functional---no motor weakness doing regular activities.

Since starting Crossfit workouts, and working pretty hard on pull-up approximations, I've developed some neck pain and pain in the middle of my left latissimus muscle. It doesn't raditate down my arm, and I can't tell yet whether it's muscle pain, since I hurt all over anyway, or if it's neuropathic (nerve) pain.

Any Crossfitters doing these workouts with cervical spine issues? I had a great surgeon but he's not a workout junkie and doesn't get it.

I'd really appreciate any anecdotes that might be helpful to me in sorting out these issues. I've decided not to do overhead lifts until the pain is gone or I figure out what it is.

Any insights welcome.

Steven Bourdage
08-25-2007, 11:39 AM
Susie did you do any rehab after the surgery? Do you do any stretching and/or strengthening of the neck musculature at all? Even though you have some levels fused you definetly want to keep the un-fused levels mobile and functional. How long ago was your surgery?

Susie Rosenberg
08-25-2007, 12:22 PM
It will be one year this November.

I didn't do physical therapy, but once I recovered from the surgery, I slowly worked backed up to my pre-surgical level of fitness, with absolutely no issues whatsoever.

I'm curious to know if any Crossfitter's have had cervical fusions, and if so, do they have any restrictions on lifts?

I do have a tiny loss of flexibilty in my neck. For example, I can't get a good extension during certain yoga poses, like upward facing dog. But since I stretch daily, and take a yoga class weekly, I don't think I'm especially tightened up in the neck.


I will be really, really bummed if I have to limit myself in the weight room.


Paul Siatczynski
08-25-2007, 07:36 PM
3 years ago I underwent a corpectomy, or removal of the C6 vertebral body, replaced with a cadaver graft strut, and fusion of C5 to C7. I have a little residual weakness in my right arm, which limits my crossfit total a little bit, but otherwise probably doesn't come into play much. I don't limit myself in any way, doing all kinds of overhead presses, jerks, snatches, handstands, headstands, hand stand pushups, forward rolls, etc. I am afraid to try a backwards roll, however. The biggest limiting factor for me is being 50, with all the aches and pains that go with that, rather than my neck.

Susie Rosenberg
08-26-2007, 04:29 AM
The biggest limiting factor for me is being 50, with all the aches and pains that go with that, rather than my neck.

Paul, thank you so much for your response. When I got that "no overhead lifts" instruction from my surgeon, I pressed him for an explanation that made sense, and all he said was, "you don't need a big neck."

So, I didn't follow instructions.

I really appreciate your taking the time to share your experience, it helps to figure out what to do. Until these past couple of days, I didn't even think about any limitations.

Today, my pain is more bilateral, so I'm less inclined to think I have anything neurologic going on, just 50-year-old, I-worked-my-butt-off pain.

Thanks again so much!


Kevin King
08-26-2007, 09:32 PM

Seek thou the advice of a sports medicine physician (call your local high school, college or other teams to get some names) or a physician that specializes in physiatry (physical medicine and rehabilitation.) They will be able to answer your questions. These docs are trained in functional injuries and can help you delineate your limitations.

You're going to need to be careful with a fusion as you may exacerbate your prior injury.

-- Kevin