Sam Darnold Suffers Unusual Sports Injury

Sam Darnold Suffers Unusual Sports Injury

by November 11, 2021 1 comment

Despite finishing the Carolina Panthers game against the New England Patriots. the news for quarterback Sam Darnold was not so good. It was reported on Monday that Darnold would miss several weeks after suffering a shoulder injury on Sunday.  The fact that he injured his shoulder isn’t unusual, but the type of injury is. Darnold suffered a Scapular fracture at some point during the game. When exactly isn’t clear. Let’s take a look at what the injury is and what the recovery outlook is.

Scapular fractures usually occur as a result of high-energy impacts like those experienced in motor vehicle accidents and only represent one percent of all fractures in athletes due to the deep position of the scapula in the body. The fact that Darnold was able to complete the game is a good sign for his recovery.

Initial Diagnosis

Often when a scapular injury is diagnosed, it isn’t done with typical X-rays. Instead, it is diagnosed with advanced imaging such as a CT scan or MRI especially when symptoms persist despite inconclusive regular x-rays. Athletes participating in football, wrestling, and water skiing tended to suffer injury as a result of forceful rotation movements but can experience an injury because of other mechanisms like direct impact or outstretched arm force. In contrast, ice hockey, boxing, and badminton injuries happen due to forceful swinging movements.

The Common Symptoms Include:

  • Sudden onset of pain, usually localized across the shoulder blade or at the top of the shoulder
  • A grinding sensation during movement.
  • Pain that is severe when the athlete attempts to raise the arm overhead.
  • Pain that worsens with deep inhalation or arm movement
  • Swelling, tenderness, and bruising on the top of the shoulder, especially in fractures involving the glenoid fossa.
  • History of previous shoulder injury increases the risk of subsequent injury involving the scapular region. Darnold has suffered two previous shoulder injuries.

Treatment and Recovery

Since the injury is so rare there aren’t normal protocols for treatment and recovery of this uncommon injury. Normally, with a nondisplaced scapular fracture, no surgery is needed and conservative treatment involves time for the fracture to heal. Initially, the bone is stabilized with a banded sling until pain resolves and then passive range of motion exercises are begun to maximize the range of motion without disturbing the healing fracture. Progressive loading against resistance is started as soon as the athlete is pain-free.

This type of exercise is done with therapy bands. Heavier and more sports-specific exercises are introduced when movements are totally pain-free, and follow-up imaging confirms the fracture is healing. Once the athlete has restored strength symmetry between the injured and noninjured sides and is totally pain-free they can return to their sport. The normal time frame for recovery is two to six months. In Darnold’s case with a nondisplaced fracture, the shorter time frame is more likely.


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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