Muscle Sport Magazine

What Type of Back Surgery Did Gronkowski Go Through?

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Robert James Gronkowski is not a new name in the National Football League (NFL). Nicknamed ‘Gronk’, the star was born in 1989 and has been a football champ. His biggest contribution was when he played for New England Patriots for nine consecutive seasons.

Gronk is a 3-time Super Bowl Champion; XLIX, LI, LIII. He has been selected for Pro Bowl five times, four times in the All-Pro selection, made it to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team. However, the star has his fair share of medical challenges during this football career.

Rob during his college years

Gronk had an awesome football career while back in college. The first medical challenge in his college years was in 2008 when he suffered from Cervical Throat Mononucleosis. He was forced to miss three games as the illness was not that big.

He attended the University of Arizona but missed an entire season as he suffered from Back Vertebral Disc Hernia in 2009. He went through back surgery for the bulging disk. In his book, he explains, “It’s Good to be Gronk” that the MRI showed a ruptured disk that was damaging the nerves in his spinal cord.

Rob playing in the NFL

2012 was a bad year for Gronkowski as he suffered an ankle sprain. He got the injury when he was playing in the AFC Championship game. He was able to play through the injury in the Super Bowl for only two weeks.

He went through arthroscopic surgery in February the same year, and medical reports indicate that he had suffered multiple torn ligaments. Recovery time from ankle injuries tends to be high because the joint structure is somehow complex; a joint capsule and surrounding ligaments bind three bones together.

He also suffered from Inguinal Hip Pull the same year during practice. The injury was not that bad as he could get back just in time for the next fixture. Gronk also faced Arm Forearm Fracture in November 2012. They were playing against the Colts when he sustained this injury. He had to miss five games but had surgery later in the month.


The year’s start was not that good for the superstar as he suffered a forearm fracture on January 13, 2013. The injury he sustained that year was the same as the previous year. Gronk went through the surgical room 3 times for this injury. He also had a nagging infection and was forced to be out of the game for the first seven weeks of the NFL season.

In May the same year, he was back on the physician’s eye with Back Vertebral Fracture. An MRI done that month indicated that he needed surgery, and it was not related to what he had sustained four years earlier.

December 8, 2013, was a bad day for the champ as he suffered several injuries. The first was Knee ACL Tear Grade 3 in the crush against the Browns.  The other injuries he sustained the same day include Knee MCL Tear Grade 3  and Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1. In January the following year, Gronk has reconstructive surgery. The injuries sustained during this game made him miss 3 final games, and two playoffs.


2014 was a great year for Rob as he did not suffer from any injury. 2015 was also fine as he suffered only one injury, a Knee Strain Grade 1 that made him miss only one game. His family and team members sent a joint statement describing the injury as “bone sprain/ bruise of his right knee.” He was treated in January the following year.


His injuries started in the practice field as he suffered from Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull. He was forced to be out of the practice sessions and also missed the first two games. His rest was extended to the first 5 weeks of the season.

Rob suffered from Chest Lung Bruise in November 2013. Seattle S Earl Thomas hit him and forced the champ to leave the field late into the game. The injury report showed that he had a perforated lung, bruised sternum, and bruised lung.

In November 27, the same year, Rob suffered from Back Vertebral Disc Hernia. The impinged nerve and a herniated disk called for surgery in December. He was forced to leave the field as they were playing against the Jets. However, the injury was sustained earlier on November 13 when they were playing against Seattle.

Many people were concerned about his surgeries. His fans were not so certain about his return to the field as well as experts in this field. Expert analysis was even provided on Joshua Rovner’s article on Gronkowski’s back surgery.

Rob has suffered from low back pains for years since he got a herniated disk while in college. He was also forced to go through a microdiscectomy to resolve pain, numbness, and weakness in his legs before he finally joined the patriots. The surgery he had in December 2016 was his third, but he was ready to join his teammates after just 7 months.

What is a microdiscectomy?

Rob underwent a microdiscectomy. To understand this concept better, we will first explore the spine. The spine is made up of building blocks that are bony in nature. These blocks as known as vertebrae and they are separated by disks.

The normal disc is usually uniform and thick. This disc does not bulge. When these discs are stressed, they tend to bulge backward and eventually cause pain. Gronk’s discs were exposed to repeated trauma even after he had tried his best to strengthen his back and the core. Repeated trauma causes the nucleus pulposus (jelly-like structure) to bulge outwards and cause a herniated disk.

The nerves that are leaving the spine are compressed, which leads to lumbar radiculopathy. Some of the effects of this condition include weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs. The physician who worked on Rob removed part of the disc herniation in a minimally invasive procedure.

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