Back Injuries End Quarterbacks 13-Year NFL Career

David Donald

(AP Photo /Elaine Thompson) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sustains a compression fracture to the L1 vertebrae during the 3rd preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Back Injuries are nothing new to Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo.

When Romo fractured a vertebrae in the 3rd preseason game against the Seahawks last year no one predicted it would end his career. It was the third back injury in his long career.

Romo announced this week he would not return to the NFL. Instead, he was replacing Phil Simms on CBS as an analyst.

The injury last year didn’t exactly end his career. He made a full recovery.  The 10 weeks he was absent, however, allowed Rookie Dak Prescott to shine. Romo did not get his job as starter back.

He’s injured his back three times while either evading a rush from a defensive tackle or getting sacked. A transverse process – a small bony projection off the right and left side of the vertebrae – was fractured in two places during  Monday Night Football in 2014. In 2013, the season came to end after he sustained a herniated disc. He underwent surgery to repair the disc.

The four-time Prowl Bowl quarterback played 13 seasons for the Cowboys, retiring with a 78-49 record. He has an impressive 248 career passing touchdowns, ranked 21st between Drew Blesoe and Boomer Esiason. Unfortunately, he never added a Super Bowl victory to his legacy.

At the BioSpine Instute, we’re achieving victories every day on behalf of our patients with painful back injuries. A fractured vertebrae doesn’t have to be a career-ending injury for most people.

Vertebrae fractures are relatively rare in young people and can be treated without surgery. After Romo sustains a compression fracture to his L1 vertebrae, he was issued a back brace and corset to limit the movement of his spine to reduce pain and promote healing.  After the bones heal most people have no pain and can return to their active lifestyle.

Compression fractures are more common in the elderly. If conservative treatments fail to achieve results, a surgical procedure known as kyphoplasty is considered.

During a kyphoplasty, a surgeon inserts a balloon catheter through a 3/4-inch incision into the collapsed vertebrae, inflates the balloon to restore it, and fills the space with cement to stabilize it.

If you injured your back in an accident or while playing sports, it’s important to see your primary care physician to assess the extent of your injury. You can also request an appointment to see one of our orthopedic surgeons to discuss your back pain and injury.

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