TODAY show co-host Carson Daly recently opened up about his recovery from back surgery. He called into an episode last week to update his other co-hosts on his Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery — his second surgery in three months.
“I feel really good,” Daly, 49, said of his progress. “And I feel really optimistic. I feel like, for anybody who suffered from lower back pain for decades, you don’t realize how much pain you’re in until it’s gone. So I feel very optimistic about the future. … My future is bright now!”
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery involves removing an intervertebral disc and replacing it with a bone or metal spacer. It is a very serious surgery and healing can take many months.
“First week was tough, just getting over the surgical pain,” Daly said, joking that he only lives on the first floor of his Long Island, New York home now. “I’ve been in the downstairs bedroom, kind of avoiding the stairs.”
Gentle movement like walking or light yoga, though, is key to successful rehabilitation.
“I’m walking a lot right now,” Daly said, joking he’s “like Forrest Gump here” on Long Island. “I walk everywhere. Yesterday I walked to New Jersey. I’m getting stronger and stronger.”
Daly, who rose to household fame in the 90s on MTV, actually suffered his initial back injury while on location for the then-burgeoning network. He said he first began experiencing pain when he injured his back in a a snowmobiling accident, resulting in a T12 compression fracture.
“At the end of one of the days of shooting [in Aspen], I was on a snowmobile being shuttled down by ski patrol, and we got into an accident,” Daly recalled. “I was knocked unconscious, and I kinda came to in the snow in a toboggan, really couldn’t feel anything below my legs, one of those really scary moments.”
At the time of the accident, doctors told him his back was structurally fine, and that surgery wasn’t an option despite the pain. Like most modern patients, Daly only received a lifetime supply of pain meds for his troubles.
His pain steadily increased over the years until he finally decided to try surgery this past summer, over 20 years later. “I feel actually better and I’m glad that I did it,” he said, after going under the knife. “It’s not a cure-all but it was in a step in my journey that I think is going to help.”
Two surgeries later, Daly thinks his back is finally fixed. “This is a very relatable topic for a lot of people because every time I say it someone’s like, ‘Oh my back is killing me!'” Daly said. “I want to play golf, I want to wrestle with my kids, I want to pick things up. I want to be better.”