Jermichael Finley injury raises questions about surgery

October 23, 2013

Jermichael Finley was carted off after a helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday.(Morry Gash / AP)

Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley remains hospitalized in Green Bay as doctors evaluate the neck injury he suffered Sunday.

Finley posted video in which he is wearing a neck brace and walking, along with a quote from the Packers’ legendary coach, Vince Lombardi on Tuesday. Looming over Finley is the question of whether he will require surgery and there’s no answer for that yet. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that surgery wasn’t likely for Finley’s bruised spinal cord. However, a top spinal surgeon told the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein that Finley isn’t likely to be able to play again without it.

Wellington Hsu, professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a practicing surgeon, told Silverstein that, although Finley may heal without surgical intervention, a spinal cord bruise is generally a sign that something in the spinal canal must be repaired.

“If everything is normal there should be enough space in the spinal canal to absorb the force of that hit,” Hsu said Tuesday. “If there isn’t enough space, then the spinal canal doesn’t take the jolt very well.”

Hsu listed four possible causes for such a bruise: a herniated disk; a fractured joint; stenosis (a narrowing of the spine that can be genetic); and vertebrae loosened because of ligament damage around the spine. Each could require surgery, including the possibility of cervical fusion.

Finley may be discharged from the hospital soon, ESPN reports, and would no doubt begin seeing specialists. Today’s update:

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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