An Injury Expert on Greg Oden's MRI

Yesterday we learned about foot injuries, generally, in big men, from ESPN.com injury expert Stephania Bell.

She is a physical therapist who is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She walked us through some of the different things that may have happened to Greg Oden's foot.

Now MRI and CAT scans have told us that Oden has a mid-lateral right foot sprain that will likely keep him out between two and four weeks. A Blazer press release made mention of a "couple of avulsions," or fractures, in his foot that will not require surgery.

Bell's reaction:

So he really did get away with one. The dreaded Lisfranc injury, which Oden thankfully did not have, is a midfoot injury to the more medial (inner) aspect of the foot. This side of the foot is inherently more rigid, so instability here (which results from ligament and bony injury) has greater consequences and greater long-term risk.

The lateral (outer) aspect of the foot is more mobile naturally. While injury is never a welcome thing, this is about as good a result as Oden and the Blazers could have hoped for. The "avulsions" mentioned are basically chip fractures that occur when ligaments tear and pull a little piece of bone (to which they attach) away.

In the big scheme of things they are not serious.

Oden will likely have his foot protected for several days to minimize range of motion stress and to allow the tissue to heal, and then he will be gradually progressed through increased intensity of activity until he is able to return to play.

The timetable the team has issued seems reasonable, but given Oden's history of a prior knee problem (and a significant one at that) on the same leg, the medical staff will be sure to return him at an appropriate pace. The season is long and as eager as the Portland fans are to have him on the court, there is no reason to rush him back considering the long-term perspective.

Would losing weight reduce the likelihood of future foot trouble?
No guarantees. Certainly more weight translates to more stress on joints. But that won't do anything to decrease his frame/height, etc. He's not exactly "overweight" so it may be a moot point for him. Also, for him it's important to have good muscular strength to help protect all of his joints.

The Lisfranc injury that Oden thankfully avoided -- how bad is it? How have other athletes fared after that?
We've seen an increase in this injury over the last few years in football. Recently running back Kevin Jones, who was with the Detroit Lions at the time, but is now with the Chicago Bears, underwent this surgery. He came back last season (2007) to play a few games for Detroit but then tore his ACL. In Indianapolis, Dwight Freeney suffered this injury last year and missed the remainder of the 2007 NFL season but was able to start the 2008 season. Earlier this year, Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a Lisfranc injury (that did not require surgery). He threw his first pitch in a bullpen session four months after the injury.