With Aaron Rodgers' fractured clavicle being the most talked about injury in northeast Wisconsin in recent memory, doctors, team sources and injury analysts from all over are weighing in on how long the Green Bay Packers will be without their MVP. I got a chance to interview Dr. David Geier--one of country's top experts on sports injuries and recovery--on my show The High Stakes Fantasy Football Hour Friday night. You can listen to the full interview here, but here were the main takeaways from our chat.
One of the first aspects of Rodgers' injury that Geier pointed out was that just because the injury was to Rodgers non-throwing shoulder, it doesn't necessarily mean that the quarterback will be return the field any sooner because of the risk of re-injury.
When players are going to tackle him and to sack him, they can drive that non-throwing shoulder into the ground. So even though it's not the throwing shoulder, it has to be healed or pretty close to healed before I expect that their team doctors will let him go back to play.
Geier said that if Rodgers does come back too soon, the chance of re-injury could make it much longer than a month before he could return to playing.
The risk would be that if he gets hit right at the fracture site or has that shoulder driven into the ground, it could basically separate it or displace that fracture worse and either prevent it from healing or making it something that would potentially need surgery.
The pain that Rodgers talked about experiencing is from the edges of bone that are moving around as the clavicle heals itself. While the initial acute pain tolerance is only a major factor within the first few of weeks in typical clavicle fractures, Rodgers' mechanics of throwing the football could become distorted as he tries to manage the pain.
Geier also said that because there's no fat, soft tissue or muscle over the clavicle, there's no way for the Packers to properly pad or tape the injury to properly protect it from another hit. And while an athlete who plays a non-contact sport could come back in two or three weeks, a quarterback will be held back from football activities longer.
It heals by laying down essentially new bone around it, and so if you're not really doing anything that risks disrupting that essentially, then that process is going to go on over six to 12 weeks. The problem is that if a football player gets hit there three weeks into it and disrupts all that new healing, he potentially risks starting that process all over again or separating it even further. And then potentially you have to do some kind of surgery and line it up and hold it in place with a plate and screws or something like that.
Geier said that it's difficult to predict how many games Rodgers will miss because he's not directly involved in his care. But because the early reports have not mentioned surgery as a possibility, Rodgers may only have a chip of bone near the AC joint rather than the much more common displacement in the middle of the clavicle.
Because of the way the bone is healing itself, Rodgers can't simply play through the pain according to Geier. He wouldn't be able to return to the field that soon to even have a chance to grit it out.
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