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December 20, 2022

A doctor's take on Jalen Hurts' shoulder sprain

Dr. Christopher Selgrath, an orthopedic surgeon at Nazareth Hospital, provides insight into what a shoulder sprain entails.

The injury that's the talk of Philadelphia: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts suffered a shoulder sprain in the team's Week 15 win over the Bears in Chicago. Our own Jimmy Kempski broke the news on Monday that Hurts received X-rays following the game. Reports then flew in about Hurts' sprained shoulder, leading to speculation of whether Hurts will play Saturday against the Cowboys and, if not, when he'll return to the field for the Birds.

While that remains unclear at this point in time, Dr. Christopher Selgrath, an orthopedic surgeon at Nazareth Hospital, provided some insight into what a shoulder sprain entails, the possibly severity of it and how long it could sideline the Eagles' MVP candidate. 

"When you have that compression on your right shoulder, that AC joint, which is your acromion and clavicular joint in that shoulder, which is held together by a bunch of ligaments, it gets sprained often," said Selgrath about Hurts' injury. 

It appears that it came on a quarterback run for Hurts where a Bears defender came crashing down upon him:

"It can be a simple sprain. We grade them 1 to 6, so they can be very simple," Selgrath continued. "You look at an X-ray and if the bones are still lining up, it's a Grade 1. If they're still lining up, it's a Grade 2. You can get an MRI and see that. Grade 3 is when you start to see displacement, seeing that the clavicle is rising above to acromion. That's a little bit longer of a recovery. 

"So Grade 1 and 2 sprains, maybe it'll take two weeks, a week or two, you can probably play through the pain, not as much of a big deal. You get into your 3s and then your 4, 5 and 6, they're much more hardcore and are much longer."

What range would Hurts be in if Monday's reports indicate that it won't be a long-term injury and the fact that Hurts remained in the game following that hit?

"I would definitely say he's in the 1-2 range I doubt he has a 3," Selgrath said. "So, he's in the 1-2 range, which means the ligaments are still intact, a little bit stretched out, so it usually doesn't require surgery, no long-term problems, but it's painful in your throwing arm. You're looking at the pain. Can you play through it? On a throwing arm, it's going to be a little tough. It's going to be about how much pain he has with it and how he feels these next couple of days. 

"Sometimes it can be pretty quick, so much so that someone can play in a week. It can affect a little bit of performance though when it comes to pain. We can give injections when it comes to cortisone shots to calm down the inflammation, which will help alievate some of that pain, especially when you play, so that can be helpful. Unfortunately, then it's just a rest thing, trying to rest to get over it."

It may come down to pain tolerance for Hurts, how he can manage that and how the Eagles' organization weighs increased damage to the shoulder area compared to inserting him back into the lineup as soon as possible. 

"Right now, it's going to be a pain thing. The only thing you worry about is re-injury," Selgrath said about a situation that would truly trouble the Eagles' championship aspirations. 

"If he lands on that again, you could turn that Grade 1 or 2 into a Grade 3, then you could be out a couple of weeks. That would be the one fear. Yes, you can play on it, but we don't want this to turn into something that puts you down for 3-4 weeks. That can be detrimental."

Even after the play in which Hurts appears to have injured his throwing shoulder, he was still slinging the ball around the field. He delivered one of his best throws of his entire MVP-worthy campaign in the fourth quarter to A.J. Brown:

That has to be encouraging for Eagles fans looking for any semblance of a silver lining to this wrench thrown into the Birds' season. As long as he's starting in the divisional round at Lincoln Financial Field in January, those same fans will have their worries wiped away. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and guest authors and do not reflect any official policy or position of any NFL team or a team's athletic physicians.

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