The prognosis is gloomy with time the enemy
THE interest in Cooper Cronk’s shoulder injury this week has been incredible.
I’ve been inundated with queries from fans on Twitter desperate for any insight into the most analysed body part in Australia.
The official diagnosis provided by the Roosters last Sunday revealed Cronk has suffered a “severe rotator cuff injury”. In the medical world this usually indicates a significant tear or complete rupture of the rotator cuff muscles or tendons in the shoulder.
But there is a slim chance it is being used as an umbrella term to include a severe rotator cuff injury of a different nature. The best case scenario for Cronk is he has a significant rotator cuff contusion (bruise/cork), which can cause short-term loss of function in the shoulder.
The pain and weakness in these cases often settles in three to five days, which would put Cronk in a very good position to play tonight.
However, if as suggested Cronk’s severe injury involves a tear, rupture or avulsion fracture of the rotator cuff or even a scapular facture, the likelihood of him proving his fitness takes a considerable hit.
There are some NRL players who play with rotator cuff tears through the season but they often require upward of a month on the sideline. Many cases require rotator cuff repair surgery and a four to six-month recovery period.
For Cronk, trying to balance the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep or waking every few hours for treatment will have been put to the test this week. But around-theclock physio, antiinflammatories, rehab exercises and rest might not have been enough.
With the importance of the game and a race against the clock, any treatment modality that can possibly give five per cent improvement will have been considered. Various combinations of electrical muscle stimulators, platelet rich plasma (PRP) or cortisone injections, hot and cold compression machines, cryotherapy and trips to the hyperbaric chamber are often used; anything to gain an edge and accelerate Cronk’s recovery.
While the pain can be managed quite well in these cases, Cronk’s availability will ultimately come down to his function. His ability to pass, kick and tackle with likely deficits in his shoulder movement and strength will have significant influence.
The signs aren’t positive with Cronk appearing to be unable to complete these tasks at the final training run yesterday.
The risk of further injury also has to be taken into account, as the rotator cuff plays such an important role in shoulder stability. Injury to the rotator cuff can leave a player more susceptible to shoulder dislocation and damage to other structures in the shoulder, particularly the ligaments and cartilage.
The final call will likely be made as a joint decision between Trent Robinson, the medical staff and Cronk himself. All three parties have to agree. Anyone votes ‘no’ and he won’t be playing. If Cronk does defy the odds his toughness and courage to compete through injury must be applauded.