Examining Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury situation

What’s Going on with Ahmad?

Two weeks ago, Ahmad Bradshaw was the workhorse behind a monster win over the San Francisco 49ers, making 3 catches for 16 yards, and rushing 19 times for 95 yards and a touchdown.  Now, he’s two weeks in to an inactive period, with reports that he will be out at least another two weeks with a neck injury.  He may even elect to have season-ending surgery.  What is going on?  How is it now that his injury is either a wait-to-heal or could require surgery?  And most mysteriously, if he was injured on only his 5th carry, how did he continue on to make 17 more plays?

While Colts Authority doesn’t have any insider information, the one possibility that sticks out (no pun intended) is a bulging disc in his neck. Remember that the discs are like jelly donuts that cushion the vertebrae in the spine.  If the vertebrae are compressed, the jelly in the donut could bulge toward the outer edge (bulging) or spill out altogether (herniated).  A bulging or herniated disc puts pressure on the nerves in the spinal column, causing pain, weakness or both.  If you have been a Colts fan for longer than a year, the phrase “herniated disc” brings more than sympathetic pain, it brings heartache as well.  It also may bring the memory of several failed attempts to alleviate the symptoms before finally replacing the jelly donut with a… hard, stale donut? But I digress…

The report that Bradshaw is planning to wait a couple of weeks for his injury to “calm down” implies that it may not be as severe as a herniation or full rupture.  My assumption (and please remember I am not a doctor) is that the pain or weakness associated with a herniated disc would be more likely to be reaggravated through almost any type of football contact, and would either need to be shaved back (surgery) or removed (surgery).  A bulging disc could be “coaxed” to calm down through rest and physical therapy (and probably a shot of cortisone).  The fact that Bradshaw has visited a specialist in Arizona, and Dr. Robert Watkins in LA (the one who finally repaired Peyton Manning), is cause for concern.  The fact that he didn’t seem to undergo any surgical procedure as a result of those visits gives us a glimmer of hope.

As Greg mentioned in one of his tweets earlier this week, Bradshaw definitely looked like he was in bad shape after he took the hit that we assume caused the injury.  So how was it that Bradshaw was able to stay in the game and power through?  It had to be pure will.