Stars, highlights and stats make us dream every day in the NBA. But if all these athletes perform every evening on the courts, it is also because their exceptional bodies are constantly monitored, massaged and examined. Thus, Dr. Q, a medical student by day and NBA supporter by night, has set up his office at TrashTalk to decipher and analyze all the sores of our orange ball stars. Sprain, tear, fracture, dislocation… the medical examination will allow us to understand all the injuries of the Great League. Today, it’s Gordon Hayward who goes on the doc’s table, for a stress fracture of the left scapula.
- Professor-student in fifth year of medicine, Dr. Q is a great enthusiast of the human body, who himself was able to test many injuries by being the victim of what is called bad luck in sports. Fascinated by anatomy and determined to excel as a future sports doctor, he has already participated in demonstrations in hospitals at the age of 10 and observed in the operating room from the age of 13. Dr. Q shares his knowledge and research on TrashTalk, to learn more about injuries in the world of basketball.
The night before last, when the Hornets announced Gordon Hayward out of the meeting because of a bruised shoulder, his wife protested on Instagram to restore the truth. Indeed, she states that the franchise made her husband play despite a fractured shoulder blade. Looking back, Hayward missed eight games in November for a shoulder contusion that had plagued him for several games already. He then resumes for three games before joining the infirmary for Friday’s meeting. Aggravation of the injury or error in the initial diagnosis, we analyze in detail.
Bone contusion and stress fracture, how are they differentiated? A bone contusion is an injury to the bone without a fracture, the bone is bleeding and inflammation is present. In a stress fracture, there are micro-fractures or cracks in the bone. However, it is sometimes more difficult to tell them apart. Indeed, the “clinical” signs (obtained by examining the patient) can be close and many stress (or fatigue) fractures are invisible on X-ray. In Hayward’s case, it’s unclear if it’s an aggravation of the injury or if the fracture was already present a month ago.
What is the treatment for this injury? Most of the time, treatment for a scapula fracture is nonsurgical. It is necessary to plan an immobilization of two to three weeks with an early rehabilitation, to avoid stiffness or adhesions between the scapula and the rib cage. Surgery is rare, reserved for complicated cases or cases that do not progress well. Hayward is still waiting to pass other examinations and probably to consult other specialists before the treatment is recorded, to follow.
If we want to compare this case to other players who have experienced something similar, we can talk about Darius Bazley. In the 2020-2021 season, a little more than a month of competition is missing between March and April for what is presented as a bone contusion of the scapula. He declared on his return that it was in fact a stress fracture, and that it had not been spotted during the first examinations. Different location but fairly similar evolution, Gift Cunningham was also announced out for a bone contusion, in the tibia, before a fracture was finally announced by the team. In his case, an operation is even considered.
What’s next for Hayward? It is difficult at present to estimate a date for returning to the courts, even if a period of four to six weeks seems reasonable. Logically no sequelae to be expected, Gordon should return to 100%. The main risk is the one that led him to this injury: aggravation due to a too early return. However, the Hornets winger probably won’t hesitate to get a second opinion before returning instead of simply following the franchise’s medical staff.
In conclusion, this case highlights how complicated injury management is in the NBA. Between injuries that escape conventional examinations, sporting and economic pressures, the envy of the franchise and the player and his own interest (medically speaking) it is sometimes difficult to make the right decisions. Hayward is paying the price this time around, with a longer absence than if his injury had been spotted and taken care of earlier.
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Gordon Hayward Still Wounded: Doctor Q’s Analysis