AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 3, 2017

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NFL Players Get Back in the Game After Upper Spine Surgery

Two-thirds resume careers after surgery for injured discs in cervical spine

The majority of U.S. National Football League (NFL) players who undergo surgery for a herniated disc in the upper (cervical) spine are able to resume their careers and perform at a high level. 

Even players with “upper-level” cervical disc herniation (CDH) have a high return rate and can return to play with similar performance outcomes compared to their “lower-level” counterparts, according to the analysis by Dr. Harry T. Mai of the Department of Orthopaedic surgery at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues. The results may help guide decisions about surgery and the likelihood of returning to competition for players with these career-threatening injuries.

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