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Zetterberg Will See A Back Specialist In New York

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Zetterberg's tournament ended a week ago, when he was forced to pull out as captain of Team Sweden because of a herniated disk in his back. He boarded an NHL charter red-eye Wednesday in Sochi and is scheduled to see a back specialist in New York after landing there today.

Team Sweden's doctor has said Zetterberg is likely to need surgery, but the question is when. Until a doctor says otherwise, the Wings are hoping Zetterberg can still play again this season.

"He's got to see a specialist to make that final determination," Holland said.

read on for an update on Datsyuk...

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Comments

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He just needs to have surgery. He needs to get it fixed before he does permanent damage to the nerve, if he hasn’t already. You can do that. Then you NEVER stop having pain.

Posted by teldar on 02/20/14 at 09:20 AM ET

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I am not expecting a Cup this season. Let’s go ahead and take care of it now. Even Mule - get healthy and be ready for next season.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 02/20/14 at 10:32 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

He just needs to have surgery. He needs to get it fixed before he does permanent damage to the nerve, if he hasn’t already. You can do that. Then you NEVER stop having pain.

Posted by teldar

Teldar is 100% correct – if Hank has a herniated (ruptured) disc. And by every account I’ve read from the Russian trainer to Hank himself, it’s highly likely that’s exactly what’s going on here.

As teldar point out, it’s a serious matter. Once the outer lining of the nerve is worn off (by being compressed against the wall of the disc where the nerve branches off the spine and extends outward to the rest of the body), there is no going back. That lining can never be repaired.

I really, really hope Z isn’t tempted to “tough it out” just to make it to the playoffs. That would be a huge mistake for both Hank and the Wings.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 02/20/14 at 11:04 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Do what needs to be done and get it over with.
Ask Stevie if it’s worth it to either shorten your career or sacrifice a body part for the rest of your life.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 02/20/14 at 11:29 AM ET

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Herniated discs dont ever really get ‘better’. You go through periods of it being tolerable and periods where you can’t even walk. Surgery is ALWAYS the last resort as it can actually make it worse. He’s going to seriously need to consider his long term health beyond hockey. What good is playing another 7 years if you have to live in constant pain in your 50s and beyond?

Posted by brians neck on 02/20/14 at 11:34 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

Let’s take a step back from the comment board diagnosises and try and be patient.  He’ll get the best doctors available and they will handle it properly.  Z, Bert and Helm are all pretty good proof the Wings understand the severity of back issues and have handled them appropriately in the past.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/20/14 at 11:40 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

There are several options now that back surgery’s really taken leaps and bounds in terms of its conciseness and ability to address issues with minimally-invasive procedures, but he definitely needs to minimize long-term damage to his playing career and quality of life.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/20/14 at 11:44 AM ET

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Absolutely George
I see surgeons who make a canyon in a person’s back to get to a 1 level fusion and I watch a guy who spends an hour positioning for a single level fusion and does it via two 1/2 inch incisions. Most of them are pretty good about discectomies, but NOT all. Not all ways of going about something see created equal and not all surgeons are created equal.

Brian’s neck,
  My dad had two discectomies on the same interspace. The first one never helped. The second one fixed him. That was 45 years ago. A friend of mine had two and she was in constant pain after the first one but her surgeon wanted her to wait so long before doing surgery again, she ended up with permanent damage. The second one made her significantly better, where she can sit, which she didn’t do for a year. My sister had a discectomy and appears fixed. The short story, some people can live without pain after discectomy, but it depends on the person and the surgeon. I would never guarantee ‘good as new’ particularly since I’m not a surgeon, but I can give anecdotal support to living normally, barring previous permanent damage and subsequent trauma.
  Personally, I have back pain due to scoliosis and an extra vertebra, but my pain is controllable with core exercise and nsaids As my view on back surgery is only if the pain is every day and unremitting, I’m not having surgery. But if Zetterberg is having pain every day and it’s unremitting, he may be better off to have surgery and retire rather than destroy himself. Hopefully he makes the best choice for himself long term rather than doing something he will regret later.

Posted by teldar on 02/20/14 at 12:58 PM ET

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Shanetx how many times did the wings bring helm back to quickly during that recovery? I can think of at least 3 times he re injured it. The wings do NOT have a stellar record treating injured players if we are being real about it.

Posted by brians neck on 02/20/14 at 01:06 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Four specialists saw Helm and never figured out whether he was having a muscular, nerve-related or skeletal problem. At least in Zetterberg’s case, the injury’s source is clear.

Back surgery is definitely as much art as science, but over the past five or so years we’ve finally gotten to the point where it’s no longer a stab in the dark. And if there is any good news, it’s that we all know that the Red Wings will spend as much as they have to to ensure that Zetterberg receives the best surgical care possible.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/20/14 at 01:11 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Shanetx how many times did the wings bring helm back to quickly during that recovery? I can think of at least 3 times he re injured it. The wings do NOT have a stellar record treating injured players if we are being real about it.

I think you’re very incorrect in attributing all of the blame for the re-injury to the Wings rushing him back.  Helm, himself, was responsible for some portion of the drive to get back quicker and when the doctor’s cannot find anything wrong and the player wants to push, how can the team say no?  They literally could not find an injury.  I actually think the Helm case showed a lot of patience on the Wings part.  They certainly did not want to be without a guy that important to them as long as they were and they gave him a lot more time than many teams would have.

They have a history of getting good doctors, or getting their players to good doctors.  When Franzen blew out his knee, who did he go to?  Dr. James Andrews.  I expect Z will be seeing the nearest equivalent you can find in the back surgeon world and, regardless, there’s a lot of alarmist talk afoot when we literally know the least amount possible about the injury AND on top of it we’re none of us back pain specialists (even those of us who go through regular back pain!), and even were we, the medical systems and pain management options available to a professional athlete making 6M a year are not the same as what we have available to us.  All I’m saying is wait and see.  We don’t have enough information to pass judgement on and suggest that he should sit out the rest of the year, or think about retirement, or any of the other ludicrous ideas people have expressed.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/20/14 at 01:48 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I have to agree with Shanetx regarding Helm—his biggest issue ended up involving the same problem that Weiss had. He wasn’t telling the trainers the truth about how he felt and he was pushing himself far too hard instead, and the same is true for Weiss leading up to his surgery.

Zetterberg has his back worked on every day. I’ve seen the process he does go through—it’s a rather vicious as opposed to vigorous set of stretches and massage therapy that’s more like physical therapy—and he’s smart enough to know when to test his body and when to call it quits (otherwise we’d see him skating for Sweden still).

This doesn’t mean that Z will have an easier time per se, but he is at least more honest about what his body’s telling him.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/20/14 at 01:55 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

I dislike seeing folks saying he should have surgery, because that’ll solve the problem once and for all.

None of us know that.

The doctors talking to Z might not know that.

Sometimes surgery is the best call, sometimes surgery is not a good call, and sometimes the patient has to “guess” because both options have uncertainty.

All we here can agree on is, “hope he makes the right decision.”

Posted by alwaysaurie on 02/20/14 at 03:18 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Aw come on, “I’m not a doctor but I have Web MD and Wikipedia” isn’t a degree? wink

I agree. Whatever happens, let’s hope it’s the right call.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/20/14 at 03:30 PM ET

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I might be a doctor.

Posted by brians neck on 02/20/14 at 05:59 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Aw come on, “I’m not a doctor but I have Web MD and Wikipedia” isn’t a degree?

Posted by George Malik

Well, George, there actually are some folks here who have real-world experience in these matters. Teldar spelled out his experience and that makes me trust his opinion.

As for myself, I’ve not only had a ruptured disc (which makes me particularly sensitive to some of the comments that Hank made), but I spent three years creating patient-education material for the Chief of Neurosurgery at a hospital here in GR. And, in 1996, we created a multimedia CD-ROM titled “Oh, My Aching Back” that included the perspectives of health care professionals from neurosurgeons to orthopedic spine surgeons to physiatrists.

One of the things I like about KK is that there’s such a range of professional experiences here that there’s almost always someone who can offer practical advice on almost any topic. Mocking those people probably isn’t the smartest thing you’ve ever done.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 02/20/14 at 06:44 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I was being a little sarcastic. I’ve learned time and again that one should underestimate one’s audience’s medical expertise at one’s peril.

We have some orthopedists here, neurologists, knee specialists, among both the commenters and lurkers, so I know that more of you than not actually know what you’re talking about.

What I’ll state is my only conclusion here: outcomes of back surgery tend to be INCREDIBLY “variable” depending on an individual’s situation and their histories. It’s still both art and science, though the last 5-10 years have taken what was once the equivalent of taking x-rays and then opening Bobby Orr’s knee to poke around and have replaced that with arthroscopy, targeted surgery and even robotic surgery to make very precise repairs.

The Wings have also been dealing with Zetterberg’s back issues since he was told to quit chewing tobacco and to alter his diet to stem soreness prior to the second lockout, and the training staff’s worked on him on an almost daily basis since that time.

As for myself, my familial history of back issues precedes itself. I’ve got lower-back pain and hip flexor issues; the mom was a nurse for 30 years and broke in specializing in orthopedic care, and she has something called “degenerative disc disorder” in addition to scoliosis, so she’s had a vertebral fusion in her neck and is living with a herniated disc presently because she believes that having surgery might make the situation worse; my father’s back was so messed up that his lumbar vertebrae were both fused and had no curve whatsoever, so I’m quite familiar with the very limited options that were once available for people with significant injuries that weren’t treated over time.

We’ve got a wealth of information and perspectives here, but it’s incredibly difficult to make an assessment of what’s going to happen to Zetterberg or what surgery might bring without knowing his specific problems and the Wings’ treatment plan, and those are the parts of the equation we don’t know very well.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/20/14 at 07:12 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

We’ve got a wealth of information and perspectives here, but it’s incredibly difficult to make an assessment of what’s going to happen to Zetterberg or what surgery might bring without knowing his specific problems and the Wings’ treatment plan, and those are the parts of the equation we don’t know very well.

Fair enough.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 02/20/14 at 07:19 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

I hope for a fast recovery for Zetterberg, but being realistic I think he would require back surgery now. It has gotten progressively worse, and continued damage if he tries to play out the season. we will know shortly.

Posted by bigfrog on 02/20/14 at 08:24 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.