Carson Daly is back on TODAY seven weeks after he had surgery to fuse his spine to get rid of his back pain. Carson Daly says that in more than one way, he is feeling better.

“When I say, ‘I’m feeling better,’ I’m feeling better in a multitude of ways,” he told TODAY. “Mentally, physically. The future is bright, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”




The TODAY co-host had Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City at the end of August. This was another thing he did to try to get rid of the back pain he’s had for years. The pain was caused by a snowmobile accident that happened while he was working for MTV in 1997.

Carson has talked about his lower back pain on TODAY. He has also talked about the Intracept procedure, which he had in June. The FDA has given its approval. In an interview, Carson told TODAY that he thought the procedure was a last-ditch effort, but that it didn’t work the way he had hoped and that it was the procedure that led him to his medical team at Mount Sinai.

“He calls me the unicorn,” Carson said of his surgeon, Dr. Andrew Hecht. “He’s like, ‘You’re the perfect candidate for this.’ I did it and my only thinking now is I wish I’d done it sooner. That’s how good I feel.”

The ALIF procedure “is a type of spinal fusion that utilizes an anterior (front — through the abdominal region) approach to fuse (mend) the lumbar spine bones together,” according to the University of Southern California Spine Center.

Carson said that the last seven weeks of his recovery have taught him a lot about a lot of different things. For the first time in decades, Carson can go about his daily life without feeling any pain. “It’s not really until you are pain free and you have the clarity to look back do you then get full understanding of the evolution of your pain journey,” he said.

Carson said that he had had time in the last few weeks to think about how his pain was making him make other bad choices in his life.

I already have anxiety and mental health issues that I’m already dealing with, and then you throw chronic pain into that cauldron, and what you have is this recipe for really destructive choices,” he said. “You know, at the end of the day, when you feel like s—, you just want to feel better. I would probably drink more red wine than I needed to, or I would eat too much comfort food because it just made me feel good — and then you end up doing that for years.”

“And then something miraculous happens where you have a surgery like I had, and then seven weeks post surgery and you start feeling great,” he continued. “And you start reassessing your life and you’re like, ‘Wow, I was eating food to feel good. But, now I feelgood.'”

Carson said that he is rethinking his relationship with eating, drinking, and working out right now. “I realized that I needed to sort of reassess my relationship with some of these things that I was masking the pain with,” he said. “And that becomes the complexity of healing.”

He said that most people have asked him when he’ll be able to play golf again or if the pain has gone away. He said that, even though the pain has gone away, which is great, this is not the end of the story. “It’s never just about back pain and fixing it,” Carson said.

“For those of us who’ve been dealing with … the intersection of mental health and back pain for decades, it’s much more complex than that,” he added. “The path back to ‘being healthy’ is what I’m on now.”

He has come to another realization after being at home for seven weeks. Getting all four of his kids ready for school every morning before they left for class was a “herculean task.” He said that he usually leaves for the show at 5 a.m., so this was the first time he had seen all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the show and been able to help.

Now that he’s back on TODAY, he’s said that it’s “incredible” to be able to share his story and that he thinks a lot of people can relate to it. He also said that he thinks the show is “amazing” because it gives him a chance to tell his story to a lot of people.

“I’m so happy to be that conduit because I have no ego or shame,” he said. “I struggle. Straight up, I struggle, and I have no problem offering observations that are working in my life for just the idea that it might help somebody else.”

Carson said that he is going to physical therapy as part of his recovery. Even though he is very optimistic about the future, he still has a lot of work to do.

“It feels like my future is really, really bright,” he said. “Like, I think it was getting dimmer and dimmer and dimmer when I was in pain, and now it’s like I was wearing blinders, and someone just took them off, and I can just see so much better.”