Monday, March 9, 2009

The low-down on ARod's surgery

There's an excellent review/summary on ESPN about the minimally invasive surgery that ARod's going through today. Having had arthoscopic surgery once (on my knee), the procedure itself is usually fairly quick and the initial recovery, at least for me, wasn't too bad. It's the subsequent rehab that will prove the biggest hurdle to ARod.

Simply put, many labral repairs also require some bone work or resurfacing of the joint. A condition known as FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) often exists in conjunction with labral tears. In basic terms, it describes a scenario in which the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum (the bone that forms the hip "socket" for the femur) repeatedly come into abnormal contact in certain hip positions as a result of an athlete's particular anatomy combined with the demands of his sport. That repeated abnormal contact, or impingement ("pinching"), can lead to bone issues such as spurring, and over time, can ultimately result in damage to the labrum, as well as the cartilage surface.
Surgery to repair the labrum alone, without addressing any underlying bone issues, results in a shortened time frame. During surgery the damaged piece of labrum is either repaired or resected (removed), depending on the extent and location of damage. Since the labrum does provide some protection for the joint surface itself, surgeons aim to preserve as much of the healthy tissue as possible. Following surgery, the athlete is required to go through a "protective" phase, during which the amount of weight-bearing is limited to allow the tissue to heal, and range-of-motion and strengthening exercises are increased incrementally. Later in rehab, the athlete returns to weight-bearing exercises, which then get more complex in scope (meaning they start to look sport-specific -- baseball-type exercises, in Rodriguez's case -- as opposed to basic leg-strengthening exercises). Once the athlete has demonstrated sufficient strength and stability, he can return to sports drills and eventually return to play. Complete recovery from a labral resection or repair typically ranges from 10 to 16 weeks. This scenario allows Rodriguez to return for the majority of this season, with the announced second surgery in the postseason to address any bone issues.
Got all that? Good. See ya in mid-May at the earliest, Alex. Please don't do or say anything stupid while you are rehabbing in Colorado. Just focus. Reduce your distractions. Remember that you used to love this game and I hope like hell that you realize how much you miss it when you can't play. Then get back and hit like mad, but still, I beg you, keep your yap shut and your distractions to a minimum!

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