So Jordy Nelson had hip surgery in the off-season.
Cue the panic, because the Packers’ star wide receiver didn’t practice during the OTAs. According to ESPNWisconsin’s Jason Wilde, the surgery isn’t causing much concern for Nelson or coach Mike Mike McCarthy. It’s business as usual at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, and they seem to be treating it like nothing more than a speed bump in the road on the way toward the beginning of the regular season. Then again, Nelson and off-season surgery are not exactly a new combination.
Nelson had symptoms, so it wasn’t just a tune up. Then again, no one just has surgery unless there is something that needs to be repaired. As he told Wilde, “Obviously, if it didn’t bother me, I probably wouldn’t have had the surgery. But nothing major. I had an opportunity to get some things cleaned up. We did it, and I think it was a good move and feel good about where we’re at moving forward.”
A clean up. That’s all Nelson had to say about the procedure. But what exactly is a clean up when it comes to a hip?
Reading between the lines and using an educated guess suggests that Jordy Nelson was having recurring pain in a hip joint that wasn’t going away with physical therapy. And in the orthopedic world, “clean up” usually means problems with the cushioning cartilage of the joint, typically loose fragments or a small tear causing symptoms.
We’re all familiar with the ball and socket concept of the hip joint. It’s how the hip joint can pivot in multiple directions. The head of the thigh bone (the femur) rotates within the cupped socket (the acetabulum.) The labrum, which creeps up in sports injury reports, is the cartilage ring that acts like a seal or a gasket around the joint.
The labrum can be injured by a direct blow to the hip. With the frequency of how often Nelson is dragged to the ground, often landing on a hip, such an injury is not outside the realm of possibility. In that case, the ring can be torn from impact. That said, it’s a fairly common type of injury in contact sports like football, hockey and soccer. Percy Harvin and Ed Reed come to mind as players that have had an injured labrum. Reed has needed to have his repaired twice.
It can also be torn by the wear and tear of repetitive twisting and pivoting as seen in athletes that have a forceful twist and swing such as golfers or those in softball or baseball.
Symptoms can be vague–pain in the front of the hip, perhaps in the groin. They can mimic other injuries such as tendonitis in the hip flexor muscles–the group of muscles that attack to the hip and allow one to raise up the thigh. Popping, locking and the sensation of the joint catching can also be symptoms of a labral injury.
With many orthopedic injuries, the severity can run the gamut. There are some labral tears that are minor enough that require nothing more than physical therapy, rest and other conservative measures. There are others that need a a “clean up” of the frayed edges of the tear to stop the locking and catching. The torn edges are trimmed off leaving only the intact tissue much like the frayed edges of a ripped fingernail are trimmed away. These type of repairs can be performed laproscopically (ie, small incisions with scopes inserted to perform the procedure.) In that case, recovery time is around 6-8 weeks. Return to play is gradual, but the period from crutches to jogging is relatively short.
Larger tears require surgical repair of the torn cartilage. Needless to say that the recovery time of such a repair is longer–sometimes six months or longer. That type of labral tear can be season ending.
But without the Packers releasing more specific information regarding Nelson’s injury, this is all just conjecture. But if I read between the lines, I would hazard to guess that this is what Nelson has been dealing with.
Jordy Nelson is no stranger to minimally invasive off-season orthopedic surgery. In 2013 he missed training camp after undergoing a knee procedure but was still very much ready to go on opening day.
The public knows very little about the extent of his injury, and chances are we never will find out. But we do know the following facts: Nelson is recovering from a minor surgical procedure. It wasn’t bad enough to fail a physical. He has not been seen on crutches since he was at a Bucks game at the end of March and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein confirmed that the receiver had undergone surgery sometime following the 2014 season. Neither Nelson or the Packers are outwardly concerned about the extent of it and have every expectation that he will be suited up and ready to be the deep threat come September.
There is a little under 2 months before the start of training camp. By then it will be 4 months since the last time anyone has seen Jordy Nelson on crutches and well beyond a 6-8 week recovery window. Don’t be surprised if Nelson enters camp and picks up right where he left off in Seattle–ready to play and be that impact player that rarely, if ever, misses a game.