Hulk Hogan "Can't Feel His Legs": What Happened to the WWE Legend?

Hogan's last surgery wasn't as successful as expected. He has lost feeling in his lower limbs and there are concerns about his future.
Hulk Hogan "Can't Feel His Legs": What Happened to the WWE Legend?
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 11 March, 2023

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) fans know and admire Hulk Hogan as the one who was able to change the meaning and popularity of wrestling. He is a legend in his field but today there is concern about his health.

The latest reports from his entourage indicate that he uses a cane to get around and that he has lost sensation in his lower body. In theory, this occurred as a consequence of the latest surgery performed on his back. There, some of the nerves that transmit information from the lower back to the legs and vice versa were severed.

Hogan had his back surgery again. They cut the nerves in his lower back. He can’t feel his lower body.

~ Kurt Angle, WWE wrestler ~

More than 20 operations for Hulk Hogan

The latest report on the WWE legend is part of a string of surgeries and complications the wrestler has had. His long career in the discipline had a negative impact on his osteoarticular health.

His first official fight was in 1979, and his retirement occurred 34 years later, in 2013, when he was 60 years old.

From that moment until today, he has had around 25 operations to address different pain and functional limitations. He was operated on his shoulders, knees, biceps, and back. His elbows and hips also required instrumentation to ease his discomfort and restore movement.

At the same time, he had to undergo repeated physical therapy, which had to stop or be paused every time he entered the operating room. However, as soon as he regained vitality, Hulk Hogan was back in the gym training.

He’s had both knees replaced several times, I think twice on both knees. So yes, he’s had a lot of surgery. A ton.

~ Brooke, daughter of Hulk Hogan ~

While we don’t know the specific context of the WWE star’s latest back surgery, we do know that injuries to wrestlers are not uncommon. In fact, the consequences can be serious in the short and long term.

Knee pain.
Wrestlers suffer from frequent knee pain.

What are the risks involved in wrestling?

A 2016 review looked at the occurrence of problems in wrestling sports, including the WWE league. According to the authors, the number of injuries increases during competition when compared to training or practice.

Once in the wrestling arena, the most injured areas are as follows:

  • Head and face
  • Knees and shoulders
  • Elbows, wrists, and hands

Although many of the injuries are mild or moderate, certain situations require immediate medical action. The same authors already cited recall that it isn’t unlikely that participants will suffer concussion.

More specific statistics report the following:

  • 85% of wrestlers are injured at some point in their career.
  • One-quarter of those injured have problems in their knees.
  • 61.5% of injuries are located in the lower limbs.
  • About 9% of wrestlers require some form of surgical intervention because of these injuries.

Being a contact discipline, it’s logical and to be expected that there’s a high rate of injury. The problem, perhaps, lies in the severity of the injuries and the aftereffect, which can manifest itself years later. Soccer and wrestling are estimated to be the two sports with the highest risk of serious injury; in turn, wrestling and baseball account for most days of inactivity when their participants are injured.

Failed back surgery syndrome: is this Hulk Hogan’s situation?

Injuries are very frequent in the WWE. However, there are also complications associated with the surgery that these injuries require. And that could be the case for Hulk Hogan, who has lost feeling in his legs after the latest surgery on his back.

There’s a situation known as failed back surgery syndrome. This is defined as the persistence of symptoms related to initial back pain, despite having undergone surgery to try to alleviate that pain.

The factors that affect the failure of surgery of this type are multiple. It may be a patient’s condition, i.e. something specific that predisposes the patient to not respond to the procedure. But there is also medical error or iatrogenesis. The statements about Hogan would imply that some nerves were severed by mistake, however we cannot confirm this.

In itself, the statistics on back surgery for pain are not encouraging. Half of the patients achieve therapeutic success, but no more than 30% consider that there was an improvement in their quality of life after the intervention. This implies a continuation of the pain or the appearance of new symptoms.

To think that Hulk Hogan has had more than 20 operations is undoubtedly extraordinary. It is clear that several risk factors are present in someone who has had about 2 operations a year for the last decade.

This would certainly affect anyone’s mood. And, according to studies, the presence of depression before back surgery increases the risk of subsequent complications, especially neurological side effects.

Back surgery preparation.
Damage to the spine is difficult to treat. Surgery is not always effective.

What’s ahead for the former wrestler?

Hulk Hogan’s future health looks set to be dominated by his new struggle with pain and lack of feeling. It’s quite possible that his extensive career in the WWE has been the cause of the problems that now plague him.

His legacy in the discipline remains unblemished. No one denies the influence he has had.

He now has the job of rehabilitating himself in the best way possible to resolve his neurological conditions. In the meantime, the support of his fans is clear on social media.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Agarwal, S., & Mann, E. (2016). Knee Injuries in Wrestlers: A Prospective Study from the Indian Subcontinent. Asian journal of sports medicine7(4), e35000.
  • Baber, Z., & Erdek, M. A. (2016). Failed back surgery syndrome: current perspectives. Journal of pain research, 979-987.
  • Barroso, B. G., Silva, J. M. A. D., Garcia, A. D. C., Ramos, N. C. D. O., Martinelli, M. O., Resende, V. R., … & Santili, C. (2011). Musculoskeletal injuries in wrestling athletes. Acta Ortopédica Brasileira19, 98-101.
  • Daniell, J. R., & Osti, O. L. (2018). Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: A Review Article. Asian spine journal12(2), 372–379.
  • Kiningham, R., & Shadgan, B. (2020). Wrestling. Sports-related Fractures, Dislocations and Trauma: Advanced On-and Off-field Management, 981-984.
  • Schoell, K., Wang, C., D’Oro, A., Heindel, P., Lee, L., Wang, J. C., & Buser, Z. (2019). Depression increases the rates of neurological complications and failed back surgery syndrome in patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery. Clinical spine surgery32(2), E78-E85.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.