Reports have emerged that Peyton Manning has undergone a cervical fusion. I’ve not been able to find any information about which vertebrae were fused – or even how many. The reports from the Colts indicate that Manning will be out 2 – 3 months.
I’ve mentioned my own neck in previous posts. In December 2009, I had an ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion) on my C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae. The operation can be tricky if there is spinal cord involvement like I had. The rupture in my C5/C6 disc region compressed my spinal cord to 1/3 of its normal size, causing balance issues and headaches. There’s no indication that Manning’s situation is as serious as mine was, but from a personal perspective, I believe Peyton Manning will not set foot on an NFL football field again.
Once fusion is complete (which typically takes 6 months to 1 year – not the 2 – 3 months indicated in reports), the vertebrae involved in the fusion process form a column of bone that has no flexibility or movement. At the base of the neck (where mine was), the results are typically better to retain movement. I have about 85% of the side to side range that I had prior to surgery. The motion is reduced the higher up the fusion is.
Since the fusion surgery creates a column of bone, if the fusion were to break, that would literally result in a broken neck. It’s for this reason I believe we will not see Peyton Manning back on the playing field. I had my doctor check my neck this week because I recently felt and heard a “crack” in my neck. She indicated that I broke off a bursa – or bony post-surgical growth. And I did it by moving wrong while I was sleeping. As we discussed my neck, she reminded me that I shouldn’t do things that are too jarring – no sky diving, no bungee jumping, no white water rafting, no rollercoasters – EVER.
I believe the abuse a QB takes on the field would be akin to any of the things on my list of “stuff not to do”. I wish Peyton a speedy recovery – but suspect it won’t be a complete enough one to allow him to play again.
What’s your take?