One medical expert not involved in Garcon’s treatment said this week that the injury could be relatively debilitating when the ligament is torn and the toe is unstable.
“If it’s not stable, it’s analogous to a torn ACL in the knee,” said Phillip K. Kwong, a foot and ankle surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. “If the toe needs to plant and cut, you won’t have the stability to do that, to change direction. You don’t have the stability to hold the toe without pain.”
Garcon, who was signed to a five-year, $42.5 million contract as a free agent in March to be the leading man in the team’s wide receiver corps, has played in only three of the Redskins’ nine games this season. But he resumed practicing Monday, following the team’s bye week, and Coach Mike Shanahan has left open the possibility of the wide receiver returning to the lineup Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. Garcon was also a limited participant in Thursday’s practice.
“It’s gotten a little bit better,” Garcon said this week. “But when you go back to running on it, you can feel pain.”
Garcon said his foot bothered him during the preseason but he kept playing. He then felt a pop on his 88-yard touchdown catch and run during the Redskins’ season-opening win at New Orleans. He has played in only two games since then, most recently on Oct. 7, totaling only four catches for 44 yards.
Garcon was examined by Charlotte-based foot specialist Robert Anderson on Oct. 24, and has said that he and team officials will have to decide whether he should undergo surgery, which would end his season.
But Garcon has said that he would like to put off surgery until after the season or avoid it completely, if possible, saying his understanding is that surgery is not guaranteed to fix the problem.
“It’s going to be pain regardless,” Garcon said earlier this week. “So we’ll have to look at options every week, day to day, monitor it, go from there. But I really don’t want to get surgery. That’s where I stand on that. But we have to monitor it every day.”
Kwong spoke in general terms about the injury because he has not been involved in Garcon’s treatment. But he said the recovery time from surgery for such an injury is at least three months. He said it is possible, through surgery, for toe function to be restored fully.
If the ligament is torn and unstable, Kwong said, “it’s more likely than not that you’re going to have to repair it in a high-performance athlete.”
The plantar plate is described as a ligament structure at the bottom of the foot. In an injury such as Garcon’s, that ligament structure has become insufficient, such as through tearing, and the toe lacks stability. Kwong said the injury can occur either through wear and tear, or via a single incident.