MotoAmerica Superbike racer/team owner Kyle Wyman underwent successful surgery on his spine November 6 at the O’Connor Hospital, in San Jose, California, to correct damage he’s been dealing with – and symptoms that have been getting worse — throughout much of his road racing career.
“This has been a little bit of a saga,” Wyman exclusively told Roadracingworld.com. “It really goes back 12 years. When I was 17, I broke my neck and back in a big crash flat tracking in the backyard at the house when I was training for the Springfield TT in my first full season of Pro flat tracking.
“I fractured a bunch of vertebrae. I was just thrown in a collar by the local doctor and sent on my way. As a result, I’ve had neck issues for the better part of a decade. Some people see that I rotate my neck a lot and crack my neck a lot, but I just have had stuff out of whack, bones that were broken and healed naturally out of place, stuff like that.
“The next big event was when I crashed in Turn One at Barber [at the end of the 2017 MotoAmerica season] and broke my T6 [vertebra]. I would argue that I never really healed from that for over a year. I struggled with that a long time.
“All these issues had me doing a lot of compensation with how I move my neck and how I ride the bike.
“Then the first time I really noticed that I had a nerve thing going on was at the  Daytona 200 during the red flag. I almost missed the restart because I was using an electrical cord to stretch my shoulder because I had all this radiating pain down my arm.
“I was confused by it, but Daytona’s always a struggle for me because you’re always in a full tuck looking straight up.
“That was the first time I noticed I had some radiating pain and numbness in my left arm.
“That was kind of complicated by stuff, like breaking my ankle in my burnout crash at the end of the Daytona 200. And I had a crash at Road America where I just rode off and tipped over really awkwardly in the gravel trap. I fell straight on my neck.
“And then driving straight across country in the rig going west to Utah put me down for the count for a week. I was stuck in bed in the race trailer. I couldn’t move my head, couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t really sure what was going on.
“Every race I was getting acupuncture at the track to be able to ride. I really couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t ride a bicycle or train or anything.
“Then of course I went to Laguna and I had that crash where I broke my scaphoid. I had four weeks of recovery from that. So essentially I didn’t train from before Laguna to the end of the season because I couldn’t do anything with the way my arm and neck were.
“At the last race of the year at Barber, I couldn’t even turn my head to the right to look behind me coming out of the pits to see who was coming.”
Wyman said when the symptoms started to affect his everyday life off the motorcycle he knew he had to take action and get some help to investigate and hopefully fix his issues.
“After the season, I started going around to a bunch of different doctors to try and see what was going on,” said Wyman. “I ended up getting an MRI and seeing that I had a pretty big herniation in my C6/C7 disc, which was pressing on my spinal cord and pressing on my nerve outlet causing all of the numbness and pain in my left arm, shoulder, chest, [and] hand.
“What I was getting from the doctors was unanimous: I needed surgery. I needed some sort of structural correction. There was no other way out. The disc was so degenerated and compressed and herniated they had to do surgery.
“I was told I should do the artificial disc replacement, which I had never heard of before. They take out the whole disc, take it off the spinal cord, and then they put an artificial one in there that is basically like a ball joint. A lot of the time I spent between the end of the season and getting the surgery was trying to find who has done this surgery.”
Wyman’s favorite orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Maury Harwood, referred him to a colleague, Dr. Edward Rustamzadeh, a neurosurgeon who performed the surgery last week.
“I woke up from surgery and everything was gone, all of my symptoms were gone instantly. It was pretty amazing,” said Wyman. “I need a couple of months for the bone to grow into the implant and seat and everything, but I’m going to be better than ever. I’m going to be better than I was when I broke my neck 12 years ago, which is exciting.
“So I’ve got a couple of months [of recovery]. I can’t get on a bike for 10-12 weeks. I look at the calendar and wish I would’ve done it a little bit sooner, but at least I’m going to be able to train for a long time before I ride.
“But I already feel like a new person. The signals from my brain are getting to everything now. So it’s a big deal.”