(In case you missed in the STLGT paper)
A couple of weeks ago, St. Louis Blues forward Steve Ott crashed hard into the boards after missing a check and severely injured his hamstring. As a result of the hit, he will miss three months, supposedly. This week, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Anil Ranawat, a sports medicine surgeon with HSS, Hospital for Special Surgery. A team of physicians that work closely with sports teams, such as the New York Rangers. Dr. Ranawat enlightened me about Ott's injury. The root cause of it and how long he will be out.
What can you tell me about the hamstring injury to Steve Ott?
Dr. Ranawat: It's a very unusual injury. You can hurt your hamstrings in three different areas. Most commonly, it's in the middle of the hamstring, which are muscle tendon junction injuries. Like when someone "pulls a hammy" and are usually out 6 to three months. There are injuries where you can hurt them at the knee, where the hamstring is inserted. I am assuming he had an injury to his proximal hamstring, around the butt, where the hamstring starts. It's classified as a water skiing injury. I do 30 of them a year. It's extremely uncommon.
STLGT: The hit came on a missed check at the boards. Does that make it more likely?
Dr. Ranawat: Yes. You are loading all your muscles for an impact and if you don't get the impact, you can get hurt. You can hit someone very hard and be fine. If you miss, the muscle balance gets thrown out of wack. If it's a proximal hamstring injury, the sciatic nerve can be injured as well. If it was the proximal, surgery happens quickly so there is no scarring. As opposed to an ACL injury, where you wait to get motion back.
STLGT: What is the most common injury in the NHL?
The hip joints. Their labrums. Tears. They perform those surgeries after the season. Shoulder injuries. They are dislocated or their AC joint is hurt, which is called a shoulder separation. Hard hit happens and their clavicle goes up. Evgeni Malkin dislocated his shoulder a few years ago and never had surgery, so you never know. Hockey players are tough.
STLGT: If it is proximal, what is the time frame for Ott to return? Blues said three months.
Dr. Ranawat: That's pretty liberal. For proximal hamstring injuries, three months goes by pretty quick.
STLGT: Is there anything hockey players can do to prevent these types of injuries?
Dr. Ranawat: No. This was a pretty freak injury. Injuries to your hamstrings have to do with stretching, strength and conditioning and such. Players today are dedicated in doing these things, unlike in Brett Hull's era. The whole way a hockey player warms up is completely different these days. However, you can't prevent all of them. When you are trying to hit somebody and you miss, you can't prevent that. Sometimes, the person who gets hit doesn't get hurt as bad as the person who administers the hit because he is able to brace himself for it. Collision sports are unique in terms of injury patterns.
STLGT: Are there any long term effects for Ott is this a complete heal?
Dr. Ranawat: It's a complete heal. If it is a proximal injury, it takes a few months to heal. Like I said, three months is a little conservative. I would say more like six months. If you end up having surgery to both sides of the muscle, the recovery is much harder. Once tendons heal to bone and the strength is good, he's good to go.
Dr. Ranawat was gracious enough to talk with me between patients at his facility. Hospital for Special Surgery is nationally ranked #1 in orthopedics by U.S. News and World Report(2015-16) and is a world leader in sports performance and rehabilitation.
The Blues didn't specify which kind of hamstring injury Ott suffered but if it meant quick surgery and the down time is three months, I have a hard time thinking it isn't proximal. The only problem there is that the recovery time may be double what the team is telling us. It sure would be nice if NHL teams weren't so secretive with their information.
Three months would have Ott returning to hockey activities at the beginning of March. With a month and change left in the season and him needing some pickup games to get up to speed, I doubt Ott comes back at 100 % or at all this season. Don't give your hopes up for a Ginger revival in 2015-16.
Send thoughts, good or bad, to email@example.com. I can take it. In the mean time, have some toasted ravioli and a craft beer for me. Thanks for reading this latest dose.