Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
If fusion solid, doctors say Manning safe to play
Low risk » Missed 2011 with neck injury.
First Published Mar 09 2012 09:51 am • Last Updated Mar 10 2012 12:08 am

Peyton Manning’s surgically repaired neck will be able to take a hit just fine once the fusion is healed, with the bone actually stronger than others in his neck. Nerves are delicate, however, and only time will tell if they’ll recover enough for the 35-year-old four-time NFL MVP to be the quarterback he once was.

"His risk really is very low," said Dr. Robert S. Bray Jr., who has worked with NHL star Sidney Crosby and whose DISC Sports & Spine Center provides medical services for the U.S. Olympic team.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"If I was a team, I’d ask, `Did [the fusion] heal? Do you have a CAT scan that showed it healed? Is the rest of neck in pretty good shape?’" Bray asked. "If those two answers are yes, then it gets down to, `OK, get out on the field and show me you can perform,’ because it will only get better from here with time."

Manning missed the entire 2011 season with a damaged nerve that caused weakness in his right arm and required multiple neck surgeries, including a single-level fusion in September. He has brushed off questions about retirement, insisting that - after parting ways with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday - he still wants to play.

And there’s no risk to him doing so, say several doctors in the field who have not examined Manning. Dr. Robert Watkins, Manning’s surgeon, is not commenting on the quarterback, his office said Thursday.

Manning had at least two procedures between February 2010 and September 2011 to relieve pressure on a pinched nerve, the cause of the weakness in his throwing arm. When those didn’t work, Watkins did the fusion, removing the troublesome soft disk tissue between two vertebrae and fusing the bones together.

The fusion normally takes four to six months to heal and, much like any other broken bone, it becomes even stronger afterward. But just as someone who tries playing with a still-broken arm risks additional injury, so did Manning if he’d returned before the fusion was solid.

But Manning was "working with the best," Bray said, and there’s no way Watkins would have allowed the quarterback to play without being certain the fusion had healed. Watkins announced Feb. 2 that he had cleared Manning to play football again.

"In the field of spine surgery and professional athletes, we have a fairly strong consensus that if you have a one-level cervical fusion, you can recover and go back and safely play," said Dr. William Tobler, a neurosurgeon at the Mayfield Clinic in Cincinnati who has done four fusions on NFL players, including four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Chris Spielman, all of whom returned to the field.

"If the fusion heals, the neck is stable so, presumably, you can take all the hitting and impact."


story continues below
story continues below

Then it’s a matter of the nerve regenerating.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.