Sean Richardson Undergoes Surgery at Marina Del Rey Hospital

With a strong backbone, Sean Richardson has taken the field, as fit as he's ever been.

Dr. Robert Watkins performed surgery on Richardson, a Green Bay Packers safety, for a herniated cervical disc in January 2013 at the Marina Del Rey Hospital spine center.

The discs are the "padding" between two vertebrae, or sections of the spine. Herniated — or bulging — discs can come into contact with the spinal cord, and in football players, whose job involves intense, full-contact physical activity, this can cause neurological problems. The herniated disc had to be addressed before Richardson could take the field again.

During the operation, Dr. Watkins fused the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae. Because these vertebrae are relatively low down in the neck, mobility was not impaired and Richardson's football career continues. (Another Green Bay safety, Nick Collins, had been released by the cautious Packers after having the C-3 and C-4 vertebrae fused; the team's medical experts would not clear him to play.)

After the operation, Richardson, who had just completed his rookie season, spent several months recuperating. He was cleared to play again in late October. Richardson returned to the Packers team and got his first minutes of the year in November. As of Dec. 14, Richardson had played in three games, logging three solo tackles, in the 2013 season.