Mark Martin Back Surgery 'Successful'

Martin undergoes 'successful' back surgery By Dave Rodman NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 22, 1999) NASCAR Winston Cup Series star Mark Martin underwent a successful lumbar fusion Monday morning. The procedure was performed in an attempt to...

Martin undergoes 'successful' back surgery By Dave Rodman

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 22, 1999) NASCAR Winston Cup Series star Mark Martin underwent a successful lumbar fusion Monday morning. The procedure was performed in an attempt to relieve a majority of the back pain Martin has dealt with for several years, a team spokesperson reported Monday afternoon. Dr. Chuck Kollmer, Martin's orthopedic surgeon, performed the procedure this morning at Bert Fish Medical Center in this community located south of Martin's Daytona Beach, Fla., home.

Dr. Kollmer is the same physician who performed surgery on Martin's fractured left tibial plateau in July to repair damage he incurred in an accident during practice for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

"Mark did very well through the surgery," Dr. Kollmer said. "There was no nerve damage from the procedure and now it is just a matter of the bone healing. His back pain should be much better, although not entirely gone."

Martin's business manager Benny Ertel said Dr. Kollmer and the staff of the small community hospital deserved high praise.

"I've taken Mark all over the country and let me tell you, Dr. Kollmer is the best," Ertel said. "Everyone at the hospital has treated Mark very well."

A release from Martin's Roush Racing team said the 40-year-old driver of the Valvoline/Cummins Ford suffered from a condition called spondylolisthesis, in which part of the bone in the back is broken, which creates instability and causes the bone below it to slip. That puts pressure on the nerves in the back, which causes pain.

During the 3 1/2-hour procedure, Dr. Kollmer removed the portion of broken bone and inserted hardware and additional bone, which will fuse together to stabilize Martin's lower back. Martin is expected to remain in the hospital until Friday.

Ertel said one of the biggest problems with the surgery was the physical condition of the driver, who is noted as one of the sport's most avid conditioning advocates.

"Dr. Kollmer said one of the problems he had was Mark has zero body fat," Ertel said with a chuckle. "He had to insert a small electronic device to promote bone growth and he had nowhere to attach it because Mark has no body fat."

Martin had originally planned to have the surgery following last season, but the pain abated somewhat and he delayed the procedure. Earlier this season, he said he could not put it off any longer and would have it done immediately following the season. Martin finished fourth Sunday in the season ending NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"He will be laying down today and we hope to start him walking by tomorrow," Dr. Kollmer said Monday afternoon. "Once the pain is under control, we will be able to send him home. We will take X-rays several times over the next two months to make sure everything is healing properly.

"We hope to start a slow rehabilitation program of his extremities next week. He will wear a lower back brace to keep that area stable."

Martin, more than likely, will miss pre-season testing at Daytona. Typically, Ford will have two, two-day tests on the 2.5-mile facility in preparation for Speedweeks.

The full recovery time for the type of procedure Martin underwent is usually about one year. Dr. Kollmer said Martin should feel better in about six weeks, once the bone heals.

The statement from Roush Racing said at this time, Martin does not plan on climbing into a race car until February 10 at Daytona.

nascar.com jj

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin