Washington Redskins running back John Riggins, placed in traction Friday at Sibley Memorial Hospital to help his sore lower back, was reported "getting along fine and seemingly comfortable" yesterday by his doctor.
Dr. Bruce Ammerman, a neurological specialist, would not otherwise comment on Riggins' condition by request of his patient. Ammerman did say that the immobility and stretching provided by traction would not guarantee any improvement.
"How much it can help depends on the particular condition," said Ammerman. "To say how much it will help him is just a difficult question to answer."
Medical sources close to the team said it is likely Riggins, 35, will be able to play Dec. 9 in Dallas, but that decision will be left up to him. The sources indicated Riggins' back problems are not a result of any particular injury, but more a product of the pounding he has endured this season and throughout his career.
He will be administered anti-inflammatory medication while in traction.
Ammerman did not want to speculate on what might happen if the proposed three days in traction did not help alleviate the pain, which Riggins said has spread as low as his knees at times.
All the Redskins were given three days off by Coach Joe Gibbs as a reward for defeating Minnesota Thursday, 31-17. The team is hopeful the combination of traction, hospital quiet and its longest midseason break of the season will enable Riggins to play in Dallas.
Riggins has rushed for 1,052 yards this year, becoming the oldest player ever to rush over 1,000 in a season. He has only carried three times in the last two games, however, and did not play at all against the Vikings, over whom the Redskins quickly built a 31-0 lead.
A Redskins spokesman said the club expected Riggins would be at Redskin Park for team meetings on Monday.
A Sibley spokeswoman said the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Riggins handled the first day of his hospitalization reasonably well.
"He seems comfortable and he has not been restless," she said. "But that could change. It usually does after a few days in the hospital."