WWE Star Randy Orton Details Struggles With Back Issues, Injuries

Following a lengthy stint away from the ring, Randy Orton returned to action at WWE Survivor Series: WarGames last November. Before that, Orton had been out since May 2022 dealing with a severe back injury. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, the WWE star detailed the immense pain he was dealing with regularly prior to taking time off.


"Before I left, I'd got to the point where [Matt] Riddle had done everything he could for me as a tag partner," Orton said. "I could barely stand for a long amount of time. Taking my kids trick-or-treating that Halloween, I would have to sit in between the houses because I just couldn't be on my feet that long."

For some time, Orton believed that a cortisone shot would be enough to allow him to keep going in the ring. After receiving an MRI, however, Orton was told that the shot wouldn't be enough as the damage to his back was just too severe. Additionally, it was deemed that other options such as an ablation procedure would not be enough to fix the problems.

"I had stenosis, degeneration all over my lower spine, and a slipping disc," Orton continued. "Every time I extended my spine, it would slip and press on those nerves. I couldn't sit and take a s**t without pain shooting down my legs or my feet going numb. I couldn't stand. There were times when I'd move and end up on the floor."


Orton Contemplated Retirement Until Undergoing A Career-Saving Procedure

Orton recalled speaking with leading neurosurgeons who recommended that Orton retire from wrestling. According to the former WWE Champion, the doctors encouraged him to think about his quality of life after wrestling.


"That's always been a priority for me," Orton said. "But hearing all this, after thinking I was going to get an epidural cortisone shot and I'd be fine, it was tough. I'll be honest — I broke into tears."

However, the wrestler persisted in speaking to doctors about exploring his options. Eventually, he got in touch with someone who thought they could help. Orton cited a doctor named Adam Kanter as well as two other physicians for their excellent work on his back surgery.

"They didn't cut through any muscle," Orton stated. "That would have rendered me a non-athlete for the rest of my life because the muscle wouldn't have healed quite the same."

Since making his return in the Men's WarGames match last November, Orton has wrestled 10 times. That includes appearances on "WWE Raw, "WWE SmackDown," live events, and a Fatal Four-Way match at the 2024 WWE Royal Rumble. This weekend, Orton will take part in the Men's Elimination Chamber match and, the following day, an episode of A&E's "Biography" focused on Orton will air.


If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Sports Illustrated with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.