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Crosby has surgery, a look into the science of sports hernias to see what he’s is dealing with

The fun part about being a Pens fan is getting to do a lot of anatomy and physiology!

NHL: NOV 09 Blackhawks at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Well, one benefit (consequence?) of being a Pittsburgh Penguins fans is you get to brush up on a lot about anatomy and physiology watching player after player go down with weird injuries. Last month we learned all about Evgeni Malkin and “soft tissue” injuries, now the current subject de jour is all about the sports hernia that Sidney Crosby is dealing with.

The team has now confirmed Crosby has undergone surgery to correct an issue.

Yesterday on twitter an athletic trainer and Pens’ fan shed some knowledge on the injury and what a future course could look like for the player, so take some notes — there will be a quiz at the end.

Erin would continue in a series of tweets:

A sports hernia is very highly correlated to hockey, so much so that it’s often referred to as a hockey hernia. It involves powerful twisting mechanisms, and that’s...basically hockey. As such recovery is a bit tricky, and surgery is often suggested. *waves at Sid*...So, you can rest this, depending on the degree, and be successful. But with hockey being your sport, it’s likely to still pose a problem since you can’t exactly avoid the mechanism of injury. In other words, Sid’s gonna likely have surgery. Now, the part you actually care about...return to play. The conservative range is 6-12 weeks. So I’d put Sid in the middle there. Considering his age and sport (and importance), I’d venture they’ll slow play it a bit. So, in closing...if you play hockey and have a nagging groin/lower abdominal pain, talk to your doctor!

Yikes. So what have we learned?

It’s interesting this isn’t a true hernia (with a wretch-inducing definition of “when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place”) but rather in this case it’s the muscle actually pulling off a bone. That probably doesn’t make things a lot better, but just for clarity’s sake there.

Erin’s timeline too pushes a return closer to eight or more weeks, when initial reports cited a 4-6 week absence. Let’s look at Pens’ defenseman Zach Trotman’s similar sports hernia surgery as a recent guideline:

  • September 23th: undergoes sports hernia surgery
  • October 10th: back on the ice skating by himself (2.5 weeks after surgery)
  • October 21st: returns to practice with the team, non-contact capacity (4 weeks after surgery)
  • October 26th: activated from injured reserve (a few days short of 5 weeks post-surgery)
  • November 1: plays in first regular season game with Wilkes-Barre (a few days short of 6 weeks post-surgery)

It obviously would depend on recovery time and healing and all of that, but given how quickly Trotman progressed — being activated from IR means he was cleared as healthy in just under five weeks — one would think Crosby would be closer to six week absence than a 8-10+ recovery time, though it definitely sounds wise to make sure nothing is pushed or stressed too hard when we’re talking about reattaching a muscle to a bone in that area of the body that is going to need to be at full strength to be able to skate at the NHL level.

Either way, the recovery time will start now as Crosby heals and recovers and hopefully will be ready at full strength for the important latter half of the season and the playoff push.