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Have confidence in Patrick Mahomes’ turf toe surgery
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SPORTS MEDICINE

Have confidence in Patrick Mahomes’ turf toe surgery

John Doherty

Photo of John Doherty

The final seconds of the Super Bowl may have ticked away on Feb. 7 and the outcome may have been decided long before the clock read 0:00 but, for both quarterbacks, the contest’s echoes have continued to reverberate.

Officially, Tom Brady is soon scheduled for a “minor clean-up” surgery to his left knee, the one that required an ACL reconstruction in 2008. According to Ben Violin of the Boston Globe, though, the planned procedure is something far more serious that will only “build (Brady’s) legend even greater.”

If and when the truth is known, Brady may have a healthier knee but several Buccaneer officials, including head coach Bruce Arians, may have lighter wallets. Brady’s name never appeared on Tampa Bay’s injury list during the season, despite league rules that require any injured player be listed, even if his participation is not restricted.

If Arians is fined, he will surely take comfort from his soon-to-be-heavier right ring finger.

LaTroy Hawkins gives guidance to his godson, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Given the opportunity to trade places, I am sure Chiefs coach Andy Reid would take it. He had Patrick Mahomes indexed on the Kansas City injury report for the remainder of the postseason after his well-documented concussion but also for a left turf toe injury he had suffered earlier in the same playoff victory over Cleveland.

Mahomes recovered from the concussion. No such luck with the turf toe. On Wednesday, he had the injury surgically repaired, which is rarely a necessity, perhaps because the diagnosis is so generic, synonymous with the mechanism of the injury rather than severity or the tissue actually damaged. "Turf toe" encompasses a wide range of injuries about the ball of the foot.

A common enough occurrence long before the advent of artificial playing surfaces, hyperextension of the big toe became far more frequent when grass was replaced with carpets over asphalt at many sports stadiums in the late 60s and early 70s. The ersatz grass was not nearly as forgiving as a natural surface and, when runners were up on their toes driving for that extra yard with the additional weight of multiple tacklers on their backs, something had to give.

That something could be ligament and joint capsule, tendon, cartilage and/or bone on bottom of the ball of the foot.

Usually, the damage is not severe enough to require victims to go under the knife, according to Dr. Rob Clemency, a podiatrist with Community Care Network in Munster and Schererville. “They typically do well with conservative treatment,” he said.

Such a course, which includes a steel reinforced orthotic in the shoe, appeared to work in the AFC Finals. Mahomes did not seem to struggle at all against Buffalo when required to scramble or during designed runs. However, being forced to scramble nearly 500 yards during the Super Bowl took its toll and, as the game with Tampa Bay wore on, Mahomes’ limp became more and more pronounced. Clearly, he was not the quarterback to whom we had become accustomed.

Prior to arriving in Northwest Indiana, Clemency was the podiatrist for the Notre Dame athletic department. “People fail to appreciate, when you are talking about professional athletes, you are talking about a difference in milliseconds,” he said in reference to success or failure. “Little things matter a great deal, not only physically but mentally.”

Upon recovery from the surgery, which usually requires 12-16 weeks, Clemency expects Mahomes to have recovered those milliseconds and his confidence.

His only concern is if there is damage to the cartilage in the joint between the foot and big toe and/or to the cartilage of the sesamoids. They are two bones that act like mini kneecaps in the ball of the foot. Such disruption could lead to arthritic changes that would decrease range of motion and someday, nearer the end of his career, slow Mahomes down.

As he returns to playing, Mahomes is likely to continue wearing an orthotic in his shoe. “He may also require the spikes of his cleats to be rearranged to avoid putting excessive pressure on (the ball of his foot),” Clemency explained.

Yet overall, given Mahomes’ talents and those of Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the surgery in Green Bay, Clemency is extremely optimistic.

“My hunch is, long-term, he is going to do great,” he predicted.

John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at jdoherty@comhs.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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John Doherty is a licensed athletic trainer and physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at jdoherty@comhs.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.

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