Minutes before NBA free agency kicked off last month, the Memphis Grizzlies revealed an unexpected hole in their roster to start the season. It was announced that he underwent surgery on his right leg to address a fractured injury.
The Grizzlies drafted two forwards in the first round who could play traditional power forward positions, and added Kenneth Lofton Jr. as an undrafted free agent.
Jackson’s return-to-play timeline is four to six months, which means he should return between November and January.
The commercial appeal interviewed Dr. Kenneth Jung, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle fractures, to provide more clarity on Jackson’s injuries.
Jung has acted as a foot and ankle consultant for sports franchises such as the LA Lakers, Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
CA: What should I know about stress fracture injuries?
Jung: The most important thing is which bone it is. The 5th metatarsal bone is especially common in basketball players. Another common one that requires surgery is the navicular bone in the middle of the foot. Jackson underwent surgery at the end of June, so it’s possible he’d been dealing with it all season and wasn’t making progress, or he’d started exercising again and noticed the pain.
CA: What are the different ways athletes get stress fracture injuries? How do they occur?
Jung: It’s usually due to overuse. You can change your footwear like you change your equipment. Also, overtraining and overloading your bones can cause them to break. If he had dealt with it all season, I think he would have dealt with it right after the season ended. So maybe this was something of his offseason conditioning.
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CA: What hurdles do players have to overcome to get back into play?
Jung: I usually tell my patients that it usually takes 6-8 weeks for the bones to heal at a minimum, sometimes up to 3 months. When[the Grizzlies]say four to six months, I think they’re commenting on his full comeback, obviously if the bone heals, two months or he’ll take three months. , begins to revert to basketball shape. So, whether it’s four months or half a year, maybe I had a little leeway. We have to put him back together to be able to play the entire season. The other part is that while he heals his bones, his body will be somewhat debilitated.
CA: Is there a higher risk of recurring stress fracture injuries? Is a 6.11 inch player more likely to get injured than a smaller player?
Jung: Obviously, big guys put more weight on their feet. Everyone remembers Yao Ming. Part of that is looking at the overall anatomy or structure of the individual foot.
CA: Can athletes with stress fracture injuries usually return to their pre-injury form?
Jung: Once the bone heals and is cared for, you can expect to return to full activity. It is not a career-threatening or career-changing type of injury.
CA: What are the main aspects of the game for players affected by stress fractures? What are the biggest hurdles from a physical standpoint?
Jung: Certain activities, such as cutting medial, diving, and riding on the ball of the foot, can stress some of these bones and put them at risk of developing symptoms. With no joints involved, you should be able to restore all that range of motion.
CA: Jaren Jackson Jr. has never played more than 58 regular season games before this year. This season, he has appeared in 78 games as a regular in his season and another 12 in the playoffs. He appeared in 11 games last season. Do you think this caused his stress fracture?
Jung: It could definitely be because this is the biggest load on his legs. That’s where it gets back to its metabolic components. His body couldn’t keep up with it, increasing his risk of getting that stress fracture.
CA: People always talk about mental hurdles with knee injuries. Are leg injuries the same?
Jung: In this sense it may be, but it’s not necessarily ACL-like, remembering how the knee instability felt or popping. You shouldn’t be there.
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CA: Is there anything else you would like to add about stress fracture injuries and your experience with them?
Jung: Importantly, when it comes to getting parents and young athletes to read your articles, these things don’t just happen to professional players. They can occur in athletes of any age. This is due to overuse. A lot of people think they just keep practicing, practicing, practicing. Doing the same thing over and over can increase your risk of stress fractures from overuse.
Contact Damichael Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter. @damchaelc