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West Ham United Weekly Injury Update

With little to report in the lead up the Leicester game, the focus this week is on the players recovering from longer-term knee injuries. 

Middlesbrough v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Angelo Ogbonna gave an interview recently to the official West Ham United website discussing his progress following his recent knee surgery.

After struggling with the problem for most of the season, Angelo finally went under the knife in January of this year. By all accounts he played through the pain for several weeks until he reached the stage where he was left with few other options.

Now, six weeks into his rehabilitation, everything is reported to be going well. On the club’s official website Angelo describes how the operation went well; and how he’s taking things step by step at this stage. He also discusses how it’s looking as though the recovery process is likely to be a lot quicker than he first expected.

However, and there’s always a ‘however’ in there somewhere, it’s early days yet.

Based on the general timescales following knee surgery, it’s still unlikely that Angelo will figure much in Slaven’s Bilić’s plans this season. Recovery from knee surgery is a lot more concise nowadays than it used to be; and as opposed to the situation in the not-too-distant past, players are rarely rushed back into action before they’re ready.

With the current emphasis in sports medicine on avoiding repeat or recurrent injury, then Angelo is likely to be given as much time as it takes in order to ensure that his recovery is complete before he even attempts to make a return to play.

Middlesbrough v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It’s clear from the regular website updates supplied by Hammer’s Head of Sports Science and Medicine, Stijn Vandenbroucke that everyone is happy with Angelo’s progress to date.

Angelo’s team mate Gökhan Töre is also reported to be progressing well and spoke in the Turkish media recently about his own recovery. Gökhan discussed how the injury was sustained in training and, like Angelo, a requirement for knee surgery followed.

Gökhan mentioned how disappointed he is at not being able to be a part of the squad for the time being. He talked freely about how his recovery schedule is quite an intense one; involving daily treatment sessions with the physiotherapists at Beşiktaş in the mornings and afternoons spent working in the gym.

The gym sessions will be focussed both on his general fitness together with the specific exercises appropriate to his injury. In Gökhan’s case, this was diagnosed as a sprain of the medial collateral ligament of the knee; usually referred to as the ‘MCL’.

The MCL provides the primary stability to the knee on the inside part of the leg (Marchant et al, 2011), or the medial aspect of the knee in medical terms. It is easily injured in the tackle, or by twisting mechanisms.

Injury to the MCL is a frequent occurrence in most contact sports (Le Gall et al, 2006); and a sprain (or partial tear to be more accurate) of the MCL is one of the most commonly sustained injuries in football (Wijdicks et al, 2010).

Unfortunately, though, due to the robust nature of the game, injuries to the MCL can occur either in isolation or in combination with simultaneous injuries to other structures of the knee. This means that injuries potentially accompanying MCL sprains can be to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), medial meniscus, or as a combination of both involving all three structures.

The fact that Gökhan had knee surgery indicates that the surgeons involved in his care felt that this was more than a routine sprain; and opted for the longer-term solution with the future in mind.

West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

At this stage there will be a big emphasis placed on the physical aspect of Gökhan’s rehab but that’s vitally important if he’s getting towards the point where he’s contemplating a return. As yet, though, no indications have been given as to when that is likely to be. In fact, depending on who you listen to, reports vary as to whether Gökhan will actually be coming back to West Ham or not.

From a medical aspect, however, the important factor is that both players are reported to be making decent progress. Although Angelo is now back in London and rehabbing there under the guidance of the West Ham medical people, Gökhan continues to work at his recovery in Turkey with the medics at Beşiktaş.

It’s not the ideal situation; but under the circumstances this arrangement will suit both parties. As we said in a previous article, the responsibility for longer-term injuries to loan players usually falls to the parent club; hence Gökhan remains in Istanbul where his progress will be monitored by West Ham United on a regular basis.

References:

Le Gall F, Carling C, Reilly T, Vandewalle H, Church J, Rochcongar P (2006). Incidence of injuries in elite French youth soccer players: a 10-season study. American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 34 (6); 928 – 938.

Marchant MH Jnr, Tibor LM, Sekiya JK, Hardaker WT Jnr, Garrett WE Jnr, Taylor DC (2011). Management of medial-sided knee injuries, part 1; medial collateral ligament. American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 39 (5); 1102 – 111

Wijdicks CA, Griffith CJ, Johansen S, Engebretsen L, LaPrade RF (2010). Injuries to the medial collateral ligament and associated structures of the knee. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery of America. Vol. 92 (5); 1266 – 1280