Dr. M: Making sense of Manning's neck injury

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Dr. M: Making sense of Manning's neck injury

By Dr. Neil Minkoff
Special to CSNNE.com

What's up with Peyton Manning? The reports out of Indy are pretty confusing.

It looks like he's had at least two neck surgeries in under two years. His latest rehab isn't going well. He has muscular issues from a crushed nerve and lingering back and neck pain. He may need another procedure.

Confused? Me, too and I'm a doctor.

So I called Dr. David Dibenedetto. Dr. Dibenedetto is the Medical Director of Boston PainCare, a leading clinic for patients with pain issues. He's a specialist in back pain and all-around smart guy. He spends every day evaluating and treating spine problems. So let's let him explain it to us.

"Manning has some spinal arthritis, almost certainly due to the violence of the game he plays. The trauma has led to bone spurs in his neck that push on his nerves where they emerge from his spine. This causes pain, numbess and weakness, mostly in the arms.

"We've gotten used to the idea that surgery can fix everything, when it can't. Seeing a player like Wes Welker return in months from what used to be a career-threatening injury and then perform at a high level reinforces this belief. Unfortunately, surgery to correct spinal disease is more risky. The prospect of a patient getting back to normal is uncertain."

Dr. Dibenedetto added, "Most patients who eventually have surgery to 'fix' their spine problems continue to have some symptoms. Some experience chronic pain, while others have numbness or weakness. In the average patient these symptoms are pretty minor, but for a professional athlete, minor things mean the difference between being able to perform and being side lined."

He also pointed out that there really isn't any good way to tell from the material that's been made public what the future holds for Manning. We'll just have to wait and see. Manning probably has to wait and see, too.