Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peyton Manning Admits Nerve Regeneration Still An Issue, Neck Fusion Has Yet To Heal

On the two-month anniversary of his neck fusion surgery, Peyton Manning made an unexpected visit to the Indianapolis Colts locker room on Thursday.  Reporters gathered to talk to the team then mobbed Manning in a rare interview opportunity.

It was an unusual move for Manning in that he's been incredibly private since his neck surgery in August to fuse two vertebrae and remove a damaged disc that had been impinging on a nerve that controlled the triceps of his throwing arm.

When asked how he was progressing, Manning said this:
Nothing earth-shattering, just two months today since my surgery. Not a whole lot to report. Still waiting for the fusion to take place. That takes place, they thought, between two and three months. Still going slow with that. I still have some of the same issues I had before the fusion as far as the nerves and the regeneration. Still dealing with that, the idea being that this surgery gave me the most stability for the nerves to regenerate. That’s still a process there.

The most serious part of his comments was that there is still quite a bit of concern in regards to his nerve regeneration.  This nerve issue was the real reason why Manning wasn't ready to play when pre-season started.  His throwing arm strength was affected by the damaged nerve controlling his triceps.  The reason for his neck fusion was that the disc started causing more pain, and the doctors then thought that the disc was still causing problems also with this nerve.

I've been saying all along that the keys to getting Manning back on the field were these:

  • Can Manning's damaged nerve regenerate to the point where he can regain the arm strength he once had? That is the wild card, and no one can tell you for sure if this will ever happen.  Nerves can take many months to fully regenerate, and it's quite possible that the Colts will finish their season before Manning is even allowed to take the practice field.
  • Does Manning have more chronic neck problems that have affected his healing, and his prognosis for future neck injuries? He admitted that his new contract with the Colts was a one-year deal with a four-year extension and that he knew when he signed it he was injured.  That's an unusual contract to sign, given that Manning's injury at the time didn't seem to require surgery right away (again, it was a nerve regeneration problem, not the damaged disc).  Could Manning have spinal stenosis, the same neurological condition that cut short the career of his older brother, Cooper?  If he does, then he may know that his future career plans are very tenuous.  No one is going to admit that until after he retires.
For more information, see my earlier blog articles on the subject:

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