Carson Daly opens up about low back pain, decision to get major surgery

Carson Daly did not mince words when describing why he decided to undergo his second back procedure in just three months.

"(I was) totally deteriorating physically," Carson told TODAY in an email.

The TODAY co-host is recovering from an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) procedure done at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on Tuesday, which marked his latest attempt to alleviate the lower back pain that has plagued him since a snowmobile accident in 1997 while working for MTV.

"For me, I’ve have always believed that surgery would be only a last resort after I exhausted all other forms of pain relief methods and lower back healing techniques," he said. "Simply put, after 20 years, I tried literally everything."

Carson underwent a noninvasive procedure called Intracept in June, in which a probe heats up the nerve root in the area that’s causing pain in order to prevent the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain. However, he said it didn't bring him the relief he needed.

"It’s a great option for some, but wasn’t the home run I was desperate for," Carson said.

A meeting with Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System, made Carson "1,000%" confident that an ALIF procedure was "the right course of action."

The ALIF procedure "is a type of spinal fusion that utilizes an anterior (front — through the abdominal region) approach to fuse (mend) the lumbar spine bones together,” according to the University of Southern California Spine Center.

The urgency of Carson's physical condition also necessitated the surgery.

"The pain in my lower back was deteriorating at a much faster rate, even just over the last 12 to 18 months," he said.

He said he was unable to play golf, jump rope, jog, ride his Peloton, bend over deep, raise his knees to his chest or do any rotational activities. He also struggled with everyday movements like getting in and out of bed and his truck, putting his pants on and tying his shoes.

"The 'zaps' or electrical shocks were increasing in frequency and intensity, as I was left thigh numbness and leg pains," he said. "Ten to 12 weeks prior to surgery, I was pretty much relegated to walking as a primary source of exercise. Totally deteriorating physically."

Carson suffered a T12 compression fracture in his back in a 1997 snowmobile crash when he was being transported down a mountain by the ski patrol while on location for MTV in Aspen, Colorado.

In the decades since the accident, he said he has tried physical therapy, yoga, massages and various other remedies to get any relief, but nothing has fully worked.

He hopes the ALIF procedure is the answer. The recovery time is estimated to be six to 12 weeks, and he said the fusion of bone takes six months to a year.

"I’m hopeful that by removing the degenerative, dark, dehydrated, shrunken disc … and adding spacers and the protein cage to fuse that lower vertebrae section together, it will finally offer me the structure and relief I need to rebuild my physical (ability) and quality of life!" he said. "And at 49 years old with four young kids raring to go, that’s everything."

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