Carson Daly is doing okay after a persistent health issue landed him in the hospital. The Today show co-host recently shared that he’s recovering from a spinal fusion surgery. “I feel full of life, zesty, [and] really good,” Daly, 49, told his fellow co-hosts during a live video call from his home. “I had a really great surgical procedure… I’m healing.”
Daly said he had the surgery in late August after years of dealing with ongoing lower back pain and undergoing a previous operation that didn’t help. “It’s basically the exact same thing Tiger Woods had done to his back,” Daly joked. “We’re pretty much the same guy.”
Immediately after the surgery, Daly said he was in pain, but, fortunately, his recovery is now going well. “It’s a process,” Daly said. “The first week was tough.” While he can’t yet conquer stairs, Daly said he’s now up and moving around a lot. “I’ve been in the downstairs bedroom, avoiding the stairs. [But] I’m walking a lot right now,” he said. “I’m like Forrest Gump here in Long Island. I walk everywhere.”
During a spinal fusion surgery, doctors permanently connect at least two vertebrae in the spine, so that there will no longer be motion between them, per the Mayo Clinic. A bone or bonelike material is placed between the vertebrae, and other materials may be used to hold the vertebrae together, including metal plates, screws, or rods. These help the vertebrae heal as one unit.
People get spinal fusion surgeries for a number of reasons, including spinal deformities, herniated disks, or spinal weakness or instability, per the Mayo Clinic. The specific spinal fusion surgery that Daly got is called an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) procedure, per Today.com; it is often used to treat painful conditions, like degenerative disc disease, per the USC Spine Center.
The recovery for spinal fusion surgeries is usually intense, as it can take several months for the affected bones in the spine to heal and fuse together. Physical therapy can help people re-learn to safely move around, sit, stand, and walk after a spinal fusion surgery; during the recovery process, people sometimes wear a brace to keep the spine aligned correctly.
Daly said he’s using a grabber, a claw-like assistive device that allows people with mobility problems to pick things up. He’s also still unable to dress himself. “The problem is that I want to come back to work, but I can’t put my pants on or tie my shoes,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Daly has shared details about his health. As SELF previously reported, he’s talked openly about having anxiety and panic attacks, and has offered encouragement to people who also live with mental health conditions. “This is who I am and I’m proud of it,” he said during a 2018 interview. “I may be a little anxious, but I know I’m gonna be okay.”
He added a similar message of hope for others who have lower back pain during his recent check-in on Today. “For anybody who suffers from lower back pain for decades, you don’t know how much pain you’re in until it’s gone,” he said. “I feel optimistic about the future.” Thankfully, Daly said his condition is improving all the time: “I’m getting stronger.”