Back pain and immobility can have a considerable effect on your quality of life. Take Carson Daly, for example. A co-host on the “Today” show, host of “The Voice,” and long-time media personality, Daly had lived with increasing back pain since a snowmobile accident decades prior. At first, the pain was intermittent, but as years passed, it began to steadily increase.
He says in People magazine that his chronic lower back pain changed his relationship to food, drinks, and his approach to life overall as a response to the pain and wanting to feel well. Daly also saw that his chronic back pain interfered with his family relationships — he couldn’t wrestle with his kids, pick things up, or, in general, be as active as he wanted.
Carson Daly was a candidate for spine surgery and underwent his first spinal surgery in July 2022. He was hopeful it would take away the chronic pain and help restore his quality of life. However, the surgery didn’t completely resolve what was a T12 compression fracture — but it was a step in the right direction. Determined, Daly went in for a second surgery shortly after in August 2022, an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion back surgery for vertebrae L5 S1 at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
This spinal fusion surgery, in which damaged intervertebral disc is removed and replaced with a metal spacer, ultimately fixed Daly’s chronic back pain. With a new lease on life, Daly reported to People after the surgery that his recovery was going well and he felt great. Part of his recovery process and a sign of progress? Going on regular walks. “I’m the Forest Gump of Long Island,” Daly said in the People interview. “I walk everywhere.”
On reflection, Daly’s journey with chronic back pain and his newfound freedom after spinal fusion surgery reminded him that back pain takes not only a physical toll, but also an emotional and mental one.
He says in People, “This just isn’t a story about people who have back pain and how do you fix it; there’s a subtext underneath it all that’s very complex that so many of us have to deal with.”
The name “Carson Daly” might not be immediately synonymous with spine surgery, but by sharing his personal experience from chronic back pain to freedom, it sounds like he hopes to inspire others to seek the help they need.
So what is Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion surgery is a procedure performed to address problems with the vertebrae. In Daly’s case, he had pain from damaged intervertebral discs in his lower back. His spinal fusion surgery addressed compression fractures in the area that transitions from the lumbar to the sacral regions.
With this type of spinal surgery, the end goal is the fusion of two or more vertebrae together to create one solid bone. To achieve this, the part of the disc that is compressing the nerves and causing pain is removed. A metal spacer filled with bone graft material is fit within the remaining bone. Metal screws and rods hold the vertebrae together. As you heal, your bone graft encourages new bone to grow around the screws and rods, fusing your vertebrae together. The solid bone then provides stability and prevents motion between bones, eliminating pain.
What is the Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) Procedure?
What specifically is the Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) procedure that Daly underwent? ALIF refers to how the spine is accessed during spinal surgery. With ALIF, the damaged area of the spine is accessed through the abdomen. The alternatives are accessing the spine through the side of the abdomen with extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) and oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF) or through the back with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF).
Spinal Fusion Surgery with Spine Medicine and Surgery of Long Island
At Spine Medicine and Surgery of Long Island, Dr. Daniel Choi’s conservative approach means helping patients find freedom from back pain with advanced, minimally invasive techniques first before turning to surgery. However, as a sought-after Long Island spine surgeon, patients can trust they’re in expert hands when surgery is recommended. Dr. Choi brings surgical expertise as a Harvard-trained, board certified orthopeadic surgeon to every patient treatment plan.
If back pain is interfering with how you want to live your life, perhaps spinal surgery is your solution. Schedule an evaluation at our Ronkonkoma or Garden City, NJ office with Long Island’s best spine surgeon specialist, Dr. Daniel Choi.