Fantasy football fans should lament Peyton Manning’s surgery, but heed its warnings

Peyton Manning Neck Surgery

Fantasy football favorite Peyton Manning is disappointing all those fantasy players who drafted him.

Peyton Manning has second neck surgery!

News just broke that Manning had a second neck surgery just yesterday, after a first surgery to repair a bulging disc in the spring of 2011. In fact, this is Manning’s third neck surgery procedure in less than two years, according to Needless to say, his performance and even appearance in this year’s season may be completely up in the air. Sports writers are finding a silver lining saying Manning may be out the season, but that the surgery hasn’t permanently ended his football career.

While people who care about fantasy football, the NFL, and sports in general keep their eye on Manning’s recovery, all of us can still use this national headline as a “teachable moment.”

And what should we learn from Peyton Manning’s neck surgery exactly?

1. Bulging discs are painful enough to drive tough guys under the knife.

From news reports it seems that Manning was primary looking for relief from pain created by a bulging disc. This is a guy who’s been leveled and left bloodied and bruised by blitzing linebackers. So you know disc pain isn’t something to disregard. The intervertebral disc is a round wedge of thick cartiliage between the vertebrea, offering support, and strength to the spine. When the disc is under constant pressure and begins swelling, it starts affecting nerves directly and can create significant pain.

Pain enough to get a tough guy like Peyton Manning to try surgery.

2. One neck surgery usually leads to two or three.

In a lot of ways Peyton Manning isn’t any different than a lot of the post-surgical people I’ve seen as an upper cervical chiropractor. Even though he’s a million dollar athlete and has access to the top orthopedists and neurologists in the world, he still has a had a hard time recovering and healing after a neck surgery. Surgery on the spine usually comes in twos and threes, and not singles, because of the challenge that the surgeons have in stabilizing a structure that was made to move and move dynamically!

Unfortunately three surgeries in two years is a lot for anyone, even Peyton Manning.

3. Spinal surgery is big business that doesn’t help everyone.

Surgical procedures to reduce the pain and pressure caused by bulging discs is a pretty popular procedure in the U.S. Studies on the rates of spinal surgeries say that that numbers of surgeries aren’t rising en total, but the use of spinal fusion is growing. Although we can only guess what the surgeon’s actually did based on news reports, it seems like Peyton received a partial discectomy, where surgeons reduced the size of the disc. Then that was followed up with an anterior fusion of the neck, which happened just this week.

It makes sense that once you remove some of the joint by removing part of the disc, you have to stabilize it a bit more. We can see why one surgery usually leads to another. And why some surgeons are just going for the whole ball of wax and performing complicated fusions instead of what they call ‘conservative’ surgery.

And this is a disturbing trend according to Dr. Carragee of Stanford University School of Medicine. In a commentary on a study of the use of surgery in Medicare patients published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He calls the business of spinal surgery and the growth of complex spinal fusions a “formidable economic and social problem.”

To translate it into lay terms: when insurance will pay surgeons more money for complex surgery, then it makes sense that the public will get more complex surgery, even if it’s more costly, has more side-effects, and doesn’t actually improve their spinal health and function. Health care, like football, is a business.

One last lesson: exhaust natural options first

As we face health care challenges, it is wise to be good health care consumers and find out what all of our options are, both natural and unnatural, invasive and non-invasive. Before drugs or surgery become necessary, lifestyle changes, changes in nutrition, and hands-on, manual approaches like upper cervical care may provide the help we need to strengthen the body.

Exhausting natural options first is a good principle to help guide your use of non-emergency surgical procedures and medications.

It is the #1 way your family can keep unnecessary medical procedures out of the picture, unnecessary medicines (and adverse reactions) out of your medicine cabinet, and your medical costs costs down.

According to a well documented report, the numbers of unnecessary and harmful medical procedures in America are quite high, with an estimated:

  • 20 million unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections
  • 7.5 million unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually, and
  • 8.9 million people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization every year!

We don’t know for sure if Peyton Manning knows how to “run the natural option” (rimshot!). But if he didn’t, I’m sure some of his fantasy football fans who know truth of this lesson, wish he did.

What are those lines on Peyton Manning’s face?!

Peyton Manning Neck Surgery

Visual evidence that Manning needs an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.

Finally, not to get all John Madden with my pen, but when I look at Peyton Manning’s posture from the front I see real evidence that the underlying cause of his problem hasn’t been fixed. He has not exhausted natural options first. His neck is drifting off to the right. His head is tipping to the right. In my work we would call that a huge a lower angle with significant head tilt. Those lines are there to help you visualize what I see and how I look at the spine.

Peyton’s posture is creating huge pressure on his bulging disc, and until that posture changes, there may be no end in sight for his neck problems.


Written by Dr. Ward

Father. Foodie. And dedicated upper cervical chiropractor. Find me practicing gentle upper cervical care in Oakland County, Michigan. Have a question or comment? I'm at your service. Reach me at my Auburn Hills chiropractic practice: (248) 598-4002. Or on Google +, Facebook, or Twitter.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.