Dallas Cowboys’ Linebacker Needs Neck Surgery

If you’ve been living with neck pain, you know how much it impacts your quality of life and your ability to participate in various activities. So imagine what it must be like for former Pro Bowl linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who plans for the Dallas Cowboys.

Vander Esch has been living with significant neck issues for years, even while playing football in the National Football League. He recently announced that he would miss the last game of the Cowboyos’ 2019 football season in preparation for minimally invasive neck surgery.

Prior to his announcement, Vander Esch had been sidelines for his team’s last five games. The problem is a bulging disc that he has been suffering from ever since the game he played on October 20th, but it wasn’t until he had an MRI days before the scheduled finale game against the Washington Redskins that he realized how dire his situation had become.

He was not only ruled out for that game, but also for post-season had the Cowboys succeeded in making it into the playoffs. He is scheduled to undergo surgery some time this month with the goal of returning to his pre-season regimen in time for next season’s training camp. He hopes to be fully recovered long before that time.

Vander Esch is only 23, and it is not news to him that he has neck problems. He was initially diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis long before he began his NFL career. The condition means that his spinal column narrows at the neck, and that has increased his sensitivity to bulging or herniated discs.

When he plays football, he always wears extra protection in the form of a neck collar, but that only offers limited help for a condition that he was born with. Still, his outlook is good and the surgery that he is about to undergo is not expected to have anything but a positive long-term impact on his ability to play.

However, there are concerns about whether he will be able to continue playing if his discs are repeatedly damaged, as many physicians question the wisdom of him having this type of surgery a second time and then continuing to play football. Should that happen there is consensus that it may be time for the young man to retire from the high impact sport.

Though Vander Esch’s cervical spinal stenosis is congenital, most people who have the condition are first diagnosed when they are in their fifties or older, as it is frequently a degenerative condition that comes with wear and tear or an injury.

Symptoms include:

  • neck pain
  • weakness or numbness in the shoulders, arms, and legs
  • hand clumsiness
  • gait and balance disturbances
  • burning sensations, tingling, and pins and needles in the arm or leg
  • and in severe cases, bladder and bowel problems

If you are experiencing these types of symptoms, your best answer is to come in to see our spine specialist in New Jersey for a thorough examination and diagnosis. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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