It was announced yesterday that Ryan Anderson will miss 2 months and potentially more, pending the outcome of a future MRI. Further, surgery still remains a possibility if his back fails to heal properly.
If @PelicansNBA Ryan Anderson does need surgery on C5 & 6 discs, he says relatively safe procedure, similar to what Peyton Manning had.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) January 14, 2014
Anderson says this injury is not career-threatening, but if he were to re-injure spine before it's healed, that could end his career.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) January 14, 2014
According to the Spine-Health website, it appears Anderson is following a traditional path in handling a cervical herniated disc:
Non-surgical treatment for a cervical herniated disc, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, exercise, and chiropractic manipulation, is typically the first line of treatment. The next level of treatment may include more powerful oral medications and/or injections into the affected area. If pain from a herniated disc lasts longer than 6 to 12 weeks, or if the pain and disability are severe, spine surgery for a cervical herniated disc maybe a reasonable treatment option.
If the Pelican season of misfortunes continue, and it is deemed Anderson requires surgery, his prognosis still remains good. The surgical success rate for a cervical herniated disc sit in the 95-98% range.
As one of Jennifer Hale's tweets made mention, Peyton Manning underwent a procedure for largely the same issue and his spine has held up wonderfully to this point. Remember, he routinely takes hits in the much more brutal sport of American football.
The most common procedure, an anterior cervical discectomy and spine fusion (ACDF), would remove the problematic disc through a small incision, the disc space would be fused and, if necessary, a plate could be added in front of the graft promoting stability.
As Rick Sasso, an Indianapolis spine surgeon, stated in respect to Manning:
"As long as the fusion was solid, that segment is very protected. It's one of the most routine operations we do now as spine surgeons. We do it as an out-patient. Most out-patients go home about four hours after the operation is done."
The biggest worry then would not be to the same area of his spine, rather some other section. This is known as adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) whereby neighboring segments of the spine have a higher propensity to fail. Medicine isn't sure yet whether it is due to an increased stress placed on surrounding areas by the fusion or it is more the by-product of bad genetics.
According to one study, the incidence and prevalence of ASD is noteworthy.
In 1999, Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, and colleagues published an often-referenced study in which they documented the incidence and prevalence of ASD in 374 consecutive patients who underwent a total of 409 ACDF procedures to manage cervical spondylosis with radiculopathy or myelopathy. The annual incidence of symptomatic ASD during the first 10 years after surgery was 2.9 percent; overall prevalence was 13.6 percent at 5 years and 25.6 percent at 10 years.
Yes, this article has likely gone on to cross one too many bridges regarding Ryan Anderson. The majority of the time, cervical herniated discs can be resolved through non-surgical means. Hopefully, the Pelicans and their fans will catch a break this time. Not so much that we get to enjoy the Flamethrower once more before this season is out, but rather, we get the privilege to watch Anderson have a long career.