RICE & MICE: What’s this about a neck injury?

Ah, the ongoing saga that is Sidney Crosby’s concussion, er, broken neck, oh soft tissue neck injury. Yes, it now appears that the storyline is not a concussion after all, but a soft tissue injury in his neck that is causing concussion-like symptoms.

You may now scratch your head and look confused, because I am doing the same. I am skeptical about several things here and I’m not sure where to even start, so I am going to start with the obvious statement that Crosby may just have post-concussion syndrome, nothing more, nothing less. It seems like every doctor or specialist that Crosby has seen has thrown a different diagnosis in the hat and I’m not so sure it’s a good thing that none of them seem to agree.

Conveniently (or not) reports of Crosby’s neck injury appeared during the all-star break, and at first speculation was that there had been, at one time, possibly, maybe, a fracture of his 1st and/or 2nd vertebrae and after the commotion that that announcement caused, a less severe and not specified “soft tissue” injury to the neck that apparently has healed.

Wait, what? Can an injury that is healed really cause symptoms?

I suppose the injury could cause those symptoms, but I wouldn’t really claim that it is healed. So what on earth is going on? There is still no timetable for Sid’s return right? Could we have little more transparency, please? After all, he has now seen half dozen medical professionals that all say something slightly different. Here is Sid’s statement:

“I think the biggest thing to take from it is it’s something I can work on. I can work on my neck. There’s a pretty big possibility that this has been causing some issues, so I really hope that’s the case. I hope that with some treatment that it will improve and that’s hopefully the end of it.”

At this point, it doesn’t seem that Crosby has much confidence or belief in the diagnosis or that he will get better, but there’s a lot of “hoping” going on, between Hoping that the “possibility” of the neck issue causing his symptoms and “hoping” that he can get better.

Soft tissue injuries are injuries to pretty much anything that is not bone. Muscles, ligaments and tendons, come to mind.

I am doubtful of a nerve injury or a disc injury here; since his symptoms are primarily neck pain and the ever-vague concussion-like symptoms. I would think a nerve injury or even a disc bulge would cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, shooting pains down the arms, and/or weakness of the arms. None of these are typical concussion symptoms, so I think this is much less likely.

Both neck injuries and concussions have the potential to cause some lingering balance issues. Sometimes the complaint is balance, sometimes it is vertigo, and sometimes it is lightheadedness. Unfortunately it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of these symptoms as it relates to a neck injury and therefore makes it hard to treat.

It’s possible that he had some whiplash after the infamous collision with David Steckel at the 2011 Winter Classic and that this whiplash has caused some long term tendinitis type of issues in his neck, but again I find myself speculating here a bit. I understand the potential for long term issues after neck and back injuries, but how was this not identified or treated at some point over the past year by team trainers, massage therapists, or the neurological chiropractor that was overseeing his concussion recovery.

Ted Carrick has been referred to as a functional neurologist and lays claim to the title of founding father of chiropractic neurology. Crosby seemed to benefit from the treatment received from Carrick enough to attempt a return to play and did so for 8 games before he was shut down again. One of Carrick’s methods of therapy is use of a computerized rotating chair (think NASA) that can rotate a seated body in any plane or direction. The patient, while sitting in the chair is told to keep their head pressed against the back of the chair. My first thought of this method is that this could be a cool and innovative way to treat concussions, vertigo and other neurological issues.

My second thought is of the stress that this could place on the neck and finally, I wonder if Crosby is going to return to Carrick’s care after seeking so many other opinions. He recently received injections in his neck near his C1 and C2 vertebrae for inflammation, so there is some type of possibly chronic irritation in that area. He is skating. When will he return?

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