Rob Gronkowski: Three Surgeries, One Impressive Scar

Rob Gronkowski showed off a long surgical scar during an appearance on the Colin Cowherd show today, prompting questions (well, quite a few in my inboxes, anyway) about just how much damage he may have done to his twice-broken, then infected, forearm.

Gronkowski's scar isn't as  worrisome as it appears. (Hat tip to Footballguys' Joe Bryant for the screencap.)

Gronkowski’s scar isn’t as worrisome as it appears. (Hat tip to Footballguys’ Joe Bryant for the screencap.)

Gronkowski doesn’t seem concerned, saying that his rehab from his most recent surgery is going well, that he’s working to regain strength in the muscles that have atrophied as he’s healed and that he expects to be cleared to lift in the next couple of weeks.

Gronkowski’s optimism is reasonable. Based on the information we have, I think his condition falls into the “could’ve been much worse” and “not as bad as it looks” categories.

The length of Gronkowski’s scar is not unusual for a surgical procedure to fix a broken forearm bone. It shouldn’t be seen as evidence of an infection so extensive that surgeons needed to open his arm up from elbow to wrist. Post-surgical infections can be severe, but there have been no reports that Gronkowski needed to have his surgical plates removed or exchanged or that he needed repeated procedures to clear the infection.

Most importantly, though, Gronkowski noted shortly before his infection that he expected to need another 4-6 weeks of rehab before being cleared for more strenuous activity. If the timeline Gronkowski gave reporters today is accurate, his rehab hasn’t been delayed much,  if at all. It’s another strong indication that the infection was not significant.

Gronkowski has taken a lot of heat over the past month for his antics while rehabbing the arm, but it’s very unlikely the dancing and wrestling last month contributed to his infection. Though surgeons take precautions to avoid them, there have been multiple post-surgical infections in the NFL in recent years. It’s a complication that occurs in as many as 5% of fractures that require surgical plating.

Though Gronkowski may still be considered something of a danger to himself before then, his forearm likely won’t be an issue for 2013. It should be healed well in advance of training camp.

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Categories: Injury Updates

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2 replies

  1. “Post-surgical infections can be severe, but there have been no reports that Gronkowski needed to have his surgical plates removed or exchanged or that he needed repeated procedures to clear the infection.”

    Uhh…

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