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WRESTLING COLUMNS

WWE.COM Statement concerning Kurt Angle's injury..
March 31, 2003 - by WWE.COM

Literally MINUTES after Wrestleania 19 was concluded, WWE.COM finally acknowledged Kurt Angle's health problems with the following statement..


Angle needs surgery, but may not miss year
by Phil Speer

SEATTLE - March 30, 2003 - Kurt Angle wrestled tonight with an excruciating neck and less than 50 percent strength in his left arm.

Surgery is on the horizon. But the questions are: Which procedure will he have? And how long will he be out? The fact that those questions are unanswered right now is actually good news, because a few weeks ago, it was a foregone conclusion that Angle would have spinal-cord fusion and miss an entire year.

But since then, Angle has found a neurosurgeon, a Dr. Jho from Pittsburgh, who has told him that he could have "reconstructive" surgery and be back in four to six weeks. To many Superstars, it sounds too good to be true. Angle is optimistic but a little skeptical himself; he's going to meet with the doctor later this week.

"This doctor is so excited and so confident, it almost scares me," Angle said.

But the doctor has done the procedure on 30-40 people, including former WWE competitor Scott Hall/Razor Ramon, who raves about him.

Instead of fusing the vertebrae, Dr. Jho takes pressure off the nerves in the spinal cord, chips off bone spurs, slightly restructures the discs and "make sure everything's naturally the way it's supposed to be." Dr. Jho, who has 30 years experience in neurosurgery, told Angle he could return, good as new, in about a month.

"He said, 'You don't need fusion. I don't like fusion,'" Angle said. "As a matter of fact, fusion is horrible, because when you fuse your neck together, that weakens the other parts of the neck and makes them more vulnerable to injury. Then you have to fuse that. Before you know it, you just have a block on your neck."

Angle called WWE's talent relations department to get Scott Hall's phone number so he could ask Hall about Dr. Jho.

"Nice guy," Angle said of Hall. "I don't know him very well, but I enjoyed talking to him. I talked to him for about 45 minutes. He had nothing but graciously good things to say about this doctor. He said, 'Kurt, nobody knows about this guy. I told this doctor, he needs to get his name out there and become the premiere doctor for neurosurgery."

Hall told Angle that three hours after surgery, Hall drove himself to the airport and flew home. By the next day, Hall was already lifting heavy weights. By contrast, Superstars who have had the spinal-cord fusion have had to wait six months - enough time for the fusion to properly take hold - before they can touch weights. Angle, who turned 34 in December, has been dealing with chronic neck pain and gradually decreasing strength in his left arm since the six-man tag team match at No Way Out, when his left shoulder jammed into a turnbuckle, jarring his entire head. Angle said the real cause of the injury was years of abuse, and the No Way Out incident was merely the straw the broke the camel's back.

Upon returning from the subsequent tour of South Africa, he visited Dr. Lloyd Youngblood in San Antonio. An MRI exam revealed bone spurs touching his spinal cord, problems with four vertebrae and two discs, and a badly bruised spinal cord. Dr. Youngblood told Angle, "Your (neck) is almost as bad as (Stone Cold Steve) Austin's. Austin's is the worst I've ever seen. But yours is second out of all the guys."

Angle initially didn't think he was going to make it to WrestleMania, but eventually decided to tough it out, knowing that his feud with Brock Lesnar has the potential to become the greatest of all time. The fact that he waited to have surgery could turn out to be a huge blessing. In the meantime, Angle did an interview with a Pittsburgh newspaper talking about his condition; Dr. Jho saw the article and got in touch with Angle's manager, Dave Hawk.

"If I go with Dr. Jho, I am going to feel a little bit bad, because I know Dr. Youngblood would have done a tremendous job," Angle said. "But I'm going to look out for what's best for me and what's best for the company.

"Right now, we've got Edge out. We've got part-timers in (The Rock) and Stone Cold, and even the Undertaker to a certain degree isn't on the road full time, which he deserves not to be because, let's face it, he's been in the business 15 years."

Angle is due to make a decision about which surgeon, and which procedure, later this week. "I might be taking a big chance with this doctor," Angle said, referring to Dr. Jho, "but I'm willing to take it."



Dr. Jho Speaks about Kurt Angle's Surgery:
by Wrestling Observer Newsletter

Kurt Angle had neck surgery yesterday in Philadelphia, PA., and unlike his other co-workers who traveled to San Antonio, TX., to have the procedure done by Dr Lloyd Youngblood and stay a year out of wrestling, Angle chose Dr Jho in Philadelphia and will only stay out for around six to eight weeks. How's this done? Dr Jho spent some time with us this morning to explain the surgery exclusively to the W-O Newsletter.

"I have invented a new surgical technique, which can remove the herniated portion of the disc or bone spurs that is compressing the spinal cord or the nerve root. Instead of accessing the herniated portion of the disc straight at the midline of the spine by removal of the remaining disc, my surgical approach is made at the side of the spine," he explained. "Although a surgical skin incision is similar to the conventional anterior approaches, my technique will make a surgical corridor at the side of the spine once the spine is exposed. Then, diagonally, herniated portion of the disc is approached behind the remaining normal disc. Thus, remaining disc is kept intact and spinal motion at the operated level is well preserved."

Another different thing from the traditional procedure is the resume of normal daily routine tasks after surgery. Superstars such as Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, Rhyno and all the others who had the neck fused, they had to stay in a hard collar for the first few months then move to a soft collar for a couple of more months after that. Dr Jho told us that symptom relief is immediately after surgery and postoperative discomfort is very minimal however healing from the surgery will take approximately one month, which is the time period required in normal surgical healing when skin is cut open.

Dr Jho added that he performed his procedure on nearly 1,000 patients and reported this techniques in many neurosurgery journals. "Risk is very minimal and surgical outcome is very satisfactory. Most of my patients are very happy at the results," he said. So why aren't other surgeons doing this technique? "It's due to their lack of training, skeptics, and initial denial to new developments as any other scientific advances," he exclaimed.


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