Surgeon Reacts To NFL Injuries

CHARLOTTE -- An orthopedic surgeon who's been treating professional athletes for nearly 20 years, is speaking out about the ramifications of shoulder injuries suffered by NFL quarterbacks. 

Dr. Marcus Cook of Novant Health Perry and Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, also serves as the team physician for the Charlotte Hornets.

Cook spoke exclusively to Carolina Sports Link, after we inquired to know more about the complexities of shoulder injuries in the NFL. 

Photo Credit: Kevin Tolbert/ADSN

Cook said athletes may have difficulty deciphering soreness from injury because the shoulder has so many structures within it. 

"It's often hard to isolate which one (ligament) is the one that's injured without diagnostic studies," said Cook."Some people may say it's just sore I'm going to play through it, and it could be something more significant." 

In some cases, athletes may not report that they're injured. For example, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who was shut down by the team because of soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder, was often vague in recent media conferences when he spoke about his shoulder soreness. Newton never officially came and said that he informed team officials about any kind of injury. 

Photo Credit: Kevin Tolbert/ADSN

Cook, who did not speak specifically about Newton, because he was not authorized to, said athletes may not report that they are hurting.  

"When that (not reporting) happens, that can be a challenge," Cook said. "If you knew earlier you might have gone ahead and done some diagnostic studies." 

Cook speculated that athletes do not report injuries because they fear they will be replaced if they divulge that they are hurt. 

Recovering from shoulder surgery, can be physically and emotionally grueling, said Cook. 

He said The latter can be the most challenging though because the athlete does not want to experience the pain all over again. 

He said many athletes don't want to experience the pain all over again. 

"Rehab on a shoulder is very painful,' said Cook. "It's a grueling rehab process and it's long. Many of the shoulder problems that we'll see, take about three months to be healed, but about six months for maximal improvement." 

According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Sports Medicine, shoulder injuries are the second-most suffered injury besides the head injury. Cook said that's because the shoulder blade is not attached to your skeleton. 

"The only thing that holds your shoulder blade to the rest of your skeleton is your collar bone," said Cook. "It's a fine balance of muscle strength ligaments and tendons." 

ADSN Multimedia Journalist Kevin Tolbert contributed to this report