There are many public figures, including former presidents, professional athletes and celebrities, who have experienced orthopedic injury, surgery and recovery ranging from minor to highly-complex conditions. Learning more about others who have experienced spine-related issues can help ease your mind and remind you that you are not alone in your struggle.


Here are examples of well-known public figures that have undergone spine surgery.

peyton manning spine surgery

Peyton Manning

Former quarterback Peyton Manning has undergone several spine surgeries throughout his career. According to Becker’s Spine Review, Robert Watkins III, MD, and Robert Watkins IV, MD, performed a single-level anterior cervical fusion for Manning’s disc herniation. After speculation that he would not return to the game of football, the Indianapolis Colts released Manning and the Denver Broncos picked him up. Manning’s ability to pick up where he left off post spine surgery seemed unlikely. However, Manning proceeded to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl in 2014 and 2016.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy’s medical problems were widely overlooked and unreported during his presidency. He faced serious chronic ailments such as the degeneration of his lumbar spine. Check out our previous blog post about JFK to learn more.

dwight howard back surgery

Dwight Howard

Basketball star Dwight Howard underwent spine surgery in 2012 due to lower back pain caused by a herniated disc. “This occurs when the inner jelly-like substance (nucleus) of our disc ruptures through the tougher outer layer (annulus) and protrudes into the space typically reserved for our nerve roots to exit the spine,” (The Good Point, 2013). Howard underwent a minimally invasive procedure for disc herniation after non-surgical treatment was unsuccessful but that did not stop him from playing in the NBA. Howard returned to basketball after surgery playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and is now a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

george w bush spine surgery

George W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush underwent back surgery for a disc problem and spent the month of January 2013 recovering, according to the Huffington Post. Although his back surgery was successful; Bush also had heart surgery and a knee replacement surgery in the years to follow.

rob gronkowski back surgery

Rob Gronkowski

The Patriots tight end had back surgery in 2013 in an effort to repair a herniated disc. The minimally invasive spine surgery proved to be a success as Gronkowski is now one of the most coveted players in the NFL.

The above public figures exemplify how minimally invasive spine surgeries can help those suffering from back pain and allow them to get back to living a normal, active life.