Manning’s Neck Surgery Might Put a Crick in His Season, Doctors Say

 ABC News’ Carrie Gann reports:

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is out of the game after having neck surgery Thursday, his third surgical procedure in the past 19 months. In a statement released Thursday , the team said Manning had a “single level anterior fusion” procedure, which was “uneventful.”

The procedure is a common one, said Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who works with players from the New York Jets and the New York Islanders.

“I see these procedures not only in professional athletes, but in many different types of individuals,” Hecht said.

Hecht said such surgery is the go-to procedure for patients with a herniated disk for whom other less invasive methods, such as medication and physical therapy, have not worked. A herniated disk puts painful pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord and can cause numbness or weakness in the arms. Manning had surgery in May to repair a bulging disk in his neck and recently reported pain in his upper back and neck. The four-time MVP is 35.

“The goal of the surgery is to decompress the nerves, to relieve that painful pressure,” Hecht said.

In an anterior cervical fusion, doctors make an incision into the neck, remove the disk between two vertebrae in the spine and put a piece of bone and a metal plate in its place.

Dr. Mark Knaub, a spinal surgeon at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, said recovery can take two to four months for someone with an average, non-strenuous job. But for an athlete playing a contact sport such as football, that recovery time can be much longer: up to nine months, in some cases. Knaub said that’s because doctors must make sure that the athlete’s bones have fused.

“Sometimes recovery is accelerated in professional athletes,” Knaub said. “But I’d be surprised if Manning made it back to the field this season.”

The Colts said they’re not estimating a date for Manning’s return to the game.