One doctor’s opinion: Creek won’t be out nearly as long this time

I’m waiting to put something in the paper until I get a second opinion, but I thought it best to share the optimistic outlook for Maurice Creek’s knee provided by a local orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Timothy Steiner, an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopedics of Southern Indiana — who it must be noted, has not seen an x-ray, MRI or any other privileged information regarding Creek — said that based on what he’s learned from news reports, this injury shouldn’t be nearly as taxing as last year’s knee fracture. He said it’s conceivable that Creek could return by the end of the season, though he will certainly be cutting it close.

“These are night and day in terms of severity and night and day in terms of treatment,” Steiner said. “One is long. The other is non-surgical, a quick rehab and he will be feeling much better on the other side. … This kind of thing typically takes a 4-8 week time period to heal and then there’s some reconditioning to get him back on the court.”

First, Steiner said, it’s possible Indiana coach Tom Crean’s wording of the injury may be incorrect. If the injury is indeed a stress fracture, by definition, that means it couldn’t have just happened during the fastbreak late in the game against Michigan when Creek went to the floor.

“It’s funny how they say he suffered the stress fracture in a game,” Steiner said. “A stress fracture comes from repetitive use over time. It’s an overuse kind of injury. It’s not correct if they said it just happened on that play.”

That means either one of two things. Either the knee had already fractured and the play in question just aggravated it to the point that Creek was feeling pain, or he suffered a “non-displacing fracture,” which means there’s a small crack in the bone as opposed to the severe, displacing fracture he suffered in his left knee last year.

“Tom’s obviously not a medical professional, so he’s going by the words of his doctor,” Steiner said. “It could be repetitive use or it could just be a small crack in the bone. They can present similarly and they can be treated similarly.”

And as he previously mentioned, this sort of fracture does not require surgery, which means Creek won’t have nearly as much muscle atrophy as he did in his left leg. Crean continually indicated this year that Creek’s left knee had healed, but it was the leg strength that he didn’t have back yet. He shouldn’t lose nearly as much strength in his right leg this time.

“He’ll be able to use and bend his knee and probably walk immediately,” Steiner said. “… When you have a big surgery, you’re immobilized, so you lose a lot of muscle tone. This is mostly simple. He’ll just have to rest and lay off it for a while, so he’ll lose a little muscle tone, but not nearly as much. … Last year he had to first of all get the swelling down and regain his range of motion then strength. This year, he doesn’t have to worry about the displacement, so he can keep that range of motion. Once it heals, he can get back his strength and physical conditioning to run and jump with a lot of intensity.”

5 comments

  1. Did he actually have a compound fracture? In a compound fracture the bone protrudes through the skin. I think he may have misspoken.

  2. Interesting comment. Despite his disclaimer at the beginning it is a bit odd for an orthopedic surgeon to present a opinion like this publically on someone he has not seen or even evaluated any data on. The info I’d be interested in is why would someone develop bilateral patellar fractures (without obvious trauma). There have been case reports but I could not find any info on this for basketball players.

  3. Easy mistake to make. A lot of terms are commonly, and mistakenly, interchanged. I can’t count the number of times I’ve explained to friends that ‘broken’ and ‘fractured’ mean the same thing.

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