Freak Injury Taking Out Players

03.05.09 8 years ago 8 Comments
Fifth Metatarsal Bone

On Blazers.com, Mike Rice wrote a story a few years back titled, “The New Martell Webster.” After hearing this week that he’ll be out for the year, I’m more concerned with the old one.

While there have been varying reports over the past couple weeks as to the status of Webster and whether or not he’ll play for the Trail Blazers this year, The Oregonian and team trainer Jay Jensen have reported that he will be missing the rest of the regular season.

But why?

When Webster fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during the preseason, his initial decision surrounded whether or not he would undergo surgery or simply rehabilitate his left foot.

“If the fracture is displaced, then it’s usually better to do surgery,” says Robert A. Sampson, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine in Portland, Oregon. “You reach the point of healing sooner if you do surgery on it. If it is not displaced, then you generally heal fine without surgery.”

Wanting to expedite the process, Webster chose the route of surgery and was supposed to miss at least eight weeks and potentially as many as 20-25 games. But with the hardwood calling his name, Webster returned to the court on December 7 in Toronto.

As you already know, his comeback was short-lived. Five minutes into the game, Webster had re-injured his foot, and a CT scan taken the next day showed the crack in his foot had reopened.

“We lost a piece of this team and I think an important piece,” coach Nate McMillan said at the time in The Oregonian. “He was one of the guys this year who could help us spread the floor and take some of that pressure off the low-post game and (we were) hoping he would have a big year. We’ll have to make adjustments.”

At 23 years old, Webster was slated to be the starting small forward for the Blazers this season. He had just signed a four-year contract extension in October, worth about $20 million and life was good. But while the Blazers say that X-rays of the injury show improvement, and that he has been cleared to begin low-impact workouts, Webster still has to work hard to get back to full strength.

“Once it’s fully healed, you should slowly ramp up your weight bearing activities,” says Dr. Sampson. Also, you usually would have to rehab the soft tissue attachments around the bone with aggressive therapy because they were not in use.”

Webster isn’t the only one that should be taking advice from Sampson. Marquette’s senior guard Dominic James also just fractured the same fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot, and is expected to recover in about 100 days. If he can weather the storm, James may be ready for the NBA pre-draft event in Chicago, which is scheduled to start May 27 – a place where he has to impress if he has any hopes of being drafted this June.

But GMs don’t worry. Unlike a knee injury that may hamper a player for their career (re: Chris Webber), fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in your foot does not have lasting effects.

“Once it is truly healed, he’s no more at risk than if he had not fractured it,” says Dr. Sampson. “Once it has healed, the bone becomes strong again and you’re good to go.”

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