Gov. Kristi Noem undergoes back surgery, recovery to take 'several months'

On the morning of Sept. 12, the governor announced she had surgery to address an injury that affected her lumbar spine. The recovery will greatly reduce her ability to travel for "several months," though she said she expects a full recovery.

Gov. Kristi Noem interacts with supporters at the State Fair on Sept. 1.
Gov. Kristi Noem stops to take a picture with supporters at the first day of the South Dakota State Fair on Sept. 1.
Jason Harward / Forum News Service
We are part of The Trust Project.

PIERRE S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem underwent back surgery last week and will be limited in her ability to travel around the state, the governor announced in a news release and an accompanying video posted to social media on the morning of Sept. 12.

“I’m going to be very limited in what I’ll be able to do for the next several months,” Noem said in the short video set on Capitol Lake. “I won’t be able to stand for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and I won’t be able to get out and about South Dakota like I love to do so much.”

Noem says she sustained a back injury approximately two months ago that eventually led to the surgery. Dr. Mohamad Bydon, the Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon who performed the operation, said the governor had “developed an acute condition impacting her lumbar spine,” but added she “underwent successful surgery and is well on her way to a full recovery.”

While the injury throws a curveball in the governor’s ability to campaign in-person around the state during the final two months of her re-election race against Democratic challenger Jamie Smith, Noem said she would adjust accordingly.

“I’m still working hard here in Pierre every day, I will continue campaigning,” Noem said in the video. "I’ll do a lot of video updates and chat with you this way as well, but my ability to get around the state is going to be pretty challenged for the next several months.”


On Nov. 8, South Dakotans rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana in the state among anyone 21 years and over. Now, the more than 100 businesses clamoring for a piece of this industry will have to attempt to sustain themselves on a few thousand medical patients.

Jason Harward is a Report for America corps reporter who writes about state politics in South Dakota. Contact him at 605-301-0496 or

Related Topics: KRISTI NOEMELECTION 2022
Jason Harward covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at
What to read next
The ruling from Judge Lawrence Piersol was filed Wednesday in the Southern Division of the U.S. District Court in South Dakota.
Jason Shields, 38, was arrested and charged after he allegedly threatened the life of both Gov. Kristi Noem and Judge Donna Bucher via email and fax.
S.D. Supreme Court decision in 2011 limited local government's ability to limit video lottery.
The order raises questions for South Dakota’s six public universities, many of which have official TikTok accounts, athletic department accounts, other departmental accounts and student media accounts.