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January 12, 2023

A doctor's take on Lane Johnson's torn adductor injury

An orthopedic surgeon at Nazareth Hospital gives an expert's take.

When Lane Johnson's been in the lineup for the Eagles over the course of his career, they're usually one of the best teams in the NFL. When he's missed time, the team, to be frank, has crumbled. It's not surprising to see how the Eagles' offense has looked since Johnson exited the Eagles' Week 16 loss to the Cowboys with a torn adductor. They no longer looked like that dominant unit that took the NFL by storm in 2022. 

The Eagles correspondingly lost their Week 17 home game to New Orleans. Quarterback Jalen Hurts came back to the team following his Week 15 shoulder sprain in the regular season finale. That was enough of a boost to guide the Eagles to a win that clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference, but the offense looked sluggish. 

That No. 1 seed, luckily for the Birds, gives them a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs this weekend. That allow their All-Pro right tackle more time to recover from his abdomen injury, which has Johnson pushing off surgery until the offseason. Reports indicate that he'll be ready for the Eagles' first playoff game, which will come on either Jan. 21 or Jan 22 in the divisional round. 

To attempt to gain a greater understanding of what Johnson is going through, PhillyVoice spoke with Dr. Christopher Selgrath, an orthopedic surgeon at Nazareth Hospital, to get an expert's take.

"Pretty painful," Selgrath succinctly summed up Johnson's injury. 

"You can definitely modify some of that pain with some anti-inflammatory medicines, your traditional ibuprofen, another medicine out there called Toradol, which can kind of mask that pain for a couple of hours," Selgrath said about Johnson getting back out there.  

"You definitely have some partial healing. It's not going to be healed to the point where he is going to be 100 percent. I think it's going to be pretty sore," Selgrath continued. "He's got another two weeks so I think, again, another two weeks for him is going to give two more weeks of healing, which is a pretty good timeframe. I think that muscle will be stronger and in a better position two weeks from now. I don't think it's going to be pain free.

"Unfortunately, it's involved with everything you do. You can't do anything without your trunk when you look at your waist. Run, block, walk, you can't do anything without that. I think the problem is that if you're trying to push off a run block or a pass block, that maneuver is still going to be tremendously painful."

Selgrath, again, reiterated the importance of two weeks of rest compared with the Eagles having to play this upcoming weekend. 

"I think the idea there is going to be two more weeks of healing, trying to get him in a comfortable place when it comes to that game," Selgrath said about a divisional round return. "It's sort of torn already and you're going to need surgery, so I think you're less concerned about irreparable damage because I think you're already going towards surgery. You don't have to be as concerned about that because you're already down that path."

If the Eagles didn't clinch that bye against the Giants, their postseason path and a potential return to the Super Bowl would've gotten a whole lot harder. This extra week of recovery is crucial. Hurts might not be closer to his true healthy self if he was playing this Saturday or Sunday. That would be even more troubling for Johnson, who hasn't even back on the field yet. 

"I think halftime will be a little rough for both of them," Selgrath said about what can be expected when both Hurts and Johnson return to action in the postseason. "You come in, you're taking off 20, 25 minutes of the game and get stiff. Look for the second half to be a little more achy and painful because some of the meds wear off as well. That's not the greatest layoff for those guys when it comes to having that opportunity. Things get tight and all of a sudden can get more sore. I think they'll both be able to play through the injuries. 

"Two more weeks can tell a lot. You'd be surprised. 7-10 days from now, they might be in a great place."

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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