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NBA Injury Analysis: Love Done for the Season?

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

LaMarcus Aldridge
The ghosts of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy still linger in Portland so it's understandable for Blazers fans to be on edge upon learning their All-Star forward would need season-ending hip surgery. Aldridge began experiencing pain in his right hip about two weeks ago and eventually headed to Vail, Colorado to visit Dr. Marc Philippon of the renowned Steadman Clinic. Dr. Philippon is familiar with Aldridge, having performed a similar procedure on the forward's left hip while he was a freshman in college.

The main joint of the hip is known as the acetabulofemoral (AF) joint. The AF joint is classified as a ball-and-socket joint, similar to the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder. The makeup of the joint resembles a golf ball sitting on a tee. The AF joint consists of the head of the femur (the golf ball) articulating in a groove of the pelvis known as the acetabulum (the tee). The ball (head of the femur) can freely spin and rotate on the tee (acetabulum) allowing for a large degree of motion. A fibrocartilaginous ring known as the labrum helps create stability at the joint by deepening the acetabulum. Unfortunately, just like in the shoulder, the cartilage of the hip labrum can tear with repetitive overuse or following a violent collision or fall. Labral tears are very painful and can eventually lead to chronic instability in the joint.

The team has yet to set a date for surgery but the injury will end Aldridge's season. Aldridge will begin rehab immediately and, though no time frame for recovery has been established, it seems likely he will be forced to pass on this year's Olympic run in London. He should be fine entering the 2012-2013 season and it should be noted he followed up his 2005 hip surgery with an impressive sophomore season at the University of Texas that helped establish him as an eventual lottery pick. The first surgery was considered more significant suggesting his value in dynasty or keeper leagues should remain unchanged.

Kevin Love
Fantasy owners are reeling from the news that Love's season could be over after he sustained a concussion and neck strain following an inadvertent elbow from Denver's JaVale McGee. The MVP candidate was a spectator Thursday in the team's loss to the Clippers.

The NBA's new concussion policy states Love must pass a neurocognitive exam and remain symptom free after undergoing multiple exertion tests. The director of the league's concussion program, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, must then sign off on the information provided by team personal and an independent neurologist before the individual is officially cleared to play.

The Timberwolves' Thursday night loss officially eliminated them from the Western conference playoff picture and it remains to be seen if the team will risk playing Love in their final six games. Keep in mind the effects of a concussion are cumulative, meaning if Love were to sustain another head injury, the resulting symptoms would likely be more severe and last longer.

Dwight Howard
The Magic will be without Howard for Friday and coach Stan Van Gundy does not expect him to return for Sunday or Monday's games either. Howard is currently battling back spasms that began following a loss to the Mavericks. Back spasms are a part of a painful but common occurrence known as the pain-spasm cycle. An injury to the muscles or other tissues of the back causes pain. The resulting pain forces tension to occur in the surrounding musculature. This tension then leads to spasm. Spasms increase pain, which produces tension, which leads to more pain.

When dealing with spasms, the key is to first break the cycle by using various modalities including medication, hot or cold therapy, and physical therapy. Once the individual is comfortable, the main goal of the medical staff becomes locating and fixing the primary cause of the injury to prevent the cycle from reoccurring. Howard has left the team and headed to Los Angeles to meet with a specialist to receive a second opinion. Initial MRIs have failed to reveal any structural damage but expect more images to be taken to insure the issue is not bone or disc related.

The team currently has a six game lead on ninth place Milwaukee so it's hard to imagine Orlando not making the playoffs. As a result it's likely they will proceed with extreme caution in regards to Howard, knowing they need him healthy if they want to compete in the postseason. The Magic will continue with Glen Davis at center who has is averaging 19.4 points and 11.0 rebounds in Orlando's last five games.

Al Harrington
The Nuggets will carry on their pursuit of a playoff spot with a less than 100 percent Harrington. The reserve forward was recently diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee. However after meeting with team physicians and the rest of the Denver medical staff, he has elected to continue to play despite the injury to the protective cartilage in the knee. The decision could be a risky one as Harrington is opening himself up to not only a more significant knee injury but also an injury elsewhere as he will naturally change his body's biomechanics due to pain and limitation in the knee.

Offseason surgery on the knee appears likely and don't be shocked if a few Denver losses forces the team to go ahead and end Harrington's season prematurely. In the meantime expect a dip in Harrington productivity, particularly his rebounding numbers. Kenneth Faried will see an increase in playing time and get the chance to push his double-double streak to three games.

Fast Breaks

Jarrett Jack: The Hornets will be without Jarrett Jack for the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Jack had a career-year, averaging 15.6 points a game but will spend the offseason recovering from the injury. Grevis Vasquez's fantasy value gets a big boost and is worth a flier down the stretch.

Corey Maggette: The Bobcats will shutdown Maggette for the remainder of the season with an Achilles tendon injury. Maggette will miss a total of 34 games in his first season with Charlotte due to a variety of ailments including a hamstring strain and back spasms. He's the team's leading scorer with 15.0 points per game.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.

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