Carson Daly has undergone a new procedure to help him heal from the decades of back pain that has negatively affected his life.
The TODAY co-host, 48, injured his back in a snowmobile accident while working for MTV in the '90s and has grappled with increasing pain in the decades since. Now, a new procedure called Intracept may provide some long-wished-for relief.
The frightening accident happened while Carson was on location in Aspen, Colorado. "At the end of one of the days of shooting, I was on a snowmobile being shuttled down by ski patrol, and we got into, like, an accident," he recalled. "I was knocked unconscious, and I kinda came to in the snow in a toboggan, really couldn’t feel anything below my legs, one of those really scary moments."
Carson suffered a T12 compression fracture, "which in the world of back injuries is actually not that bad," he said, because, as doctors explained to him early on, nothing in his spine was severed. His back was still "structurally" sound.
“The pain source actually isn’t coming from those discs or the vertebrae. It’s coming from within the vertebrae,” said Carson.
Yet Carson’s back pain, which at first was intermittent, has grown more severe over time.
Doctors told Carson after the accident that because his back was structurally unharmed, pain management was his only option for relief. However, after a bad reaction to prescription pain pills, Carson knew he'd use them only as a "last resort," he said. Over the years, he's tried physical therapy, yoga, massages and cupping to try to get relief from the pain and to build core strength.
Carson was able to continue to be active in his 20s, but as he got older and became a father, his back pain presented more problems. Carson shares four children with wife and TODAY Food contributor Siri Daly: son Jackson, 13, and daughters Etta, 9, London, 7, and Goldie, 2.
"(My back pain's) affected my interaction with my family. It really has. I could still pick my kids up when they were little. ... But one thing I love to do is just get down on the ground and let them jump on me and roll around and play," he said.
He added: "If you just follow me around for the day, you hear me. I’m, like, 'Oh, eh.' It’s like I’m an old man, and it sucks because there’s times when my son's like, 'Hey Dad, let’s go play basketball, or let’s go outside and throw the ball.'"
Now, however, relief is in sight for Carson, thanks to a new minimally-invasive, FDA-approved procedure called Intracept.
Carson's physician has explained to him that the procedure, which targets the basivertebral nerve, takes less than an hour. It will "essentially cut off the phone call that your back makes to your brain every time you move and you go 'ouch.' It’s just not going get that signal," Carson explained.
He said his physician told him that she's seen lots of positive results from the procedure in people who are more immobile, older and have a longer history of back pain than Carson. "We think it’s a real breakthrough thing" for the millions Americans who suffer from chronic lower back pain, he recalled her telling him.
“I don’t want to be in pain,” he added. “I want to play golf, I want to wrestle with my kids. I want to pick things up. I want to be better.”
Carson has taken time off from TODAY this week to undergo the procedure and recover. He returned to the show Thursday and shared a little bit about his progress so far.
"I feel actually better, and I'm glad that I did it," he told his TODAY. co-hosts. "It's not a cure-all, but it was a step in my journey that I think is is going to help."
Tune into TODAY next week to learn more about Carson's back procedure.