Philadelphia 76ers TJ McConnell Has A Shoulder Contusion
I am not buying it. A shoulder contusion occurs with impact with resulting pain. This was exactly what happened to TJ in the play where he was going through a screen. But the fact he could not lift his arm and his activity after was more of a concern. In the tunnel it was clear that McConnell brought his arm up to the side and then rolled it forward. This is the typical motion you see when someone dislocates their shoulder. TJ then appears to move his shoulder more after. Regardless there was enough trauma to the shoulder for him to immediately leave the game. The future for McConnell is very different.
A shoulder contusion is simply a shoulder bruise. Like most bruises if they are only soft tissue full recovery occurs over a 2-4 week time period. 6 weeks at most. Recovery starts with rest which is why he is out of the Sixers game against Boston. He should be able to play in the near future however as he would not need to be 100% to return. His limit to return is only his tolerance to his pain. This means that he could play in less than a week with mild limitation.
The story is different for a shoulder dislocation
When it comes to a shoulder dislocation due to trauma most people do not recover. Only 16% of people return to their prior activity level without surgery following a traumatic dislocation. This can be due to soft tissue injury that an x-ray would not show. It would be no surprise if TJ has a complicated return and a future shoulder injury this year. Not because the Philadelphia 76ers are doing anything wrong but because the information an x-ray gives only helps with breaks/fractures.
What Do X-rays Help With?
X-rays are very good at showing bone in a flat image. Multiple x-rays provide a good idea of the area and will help diagnose most breaks and fractures. When it comes to soft tissue or internal bone issues x-rays fall short. This is because the image is flat and the radiation of x-rays pass through soft tissue. This results in areas of soft tissue not showing and internal bone structures being blocked by the surrounding bone. For soft tissue injuries an MRI can show more information but it also shows things that were there before injury and can lead to unnecessary surgery.
Wait And See
The best approach to an injury like this is what the Philadelphia 76ers are doing. Physical therapy, rest, and a pain centered return to play will be key. If he has persistent issues with either pain or a future injury this year then he would need an MRI to determine if he has the effects of traumatic shoulder dislocation. Just like most injuries where the person is not in immediate danger the conservative option remains the best option. This is what physical therapy can provide.
Do you have pain that needs conservative management with physical therapy?