The Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams, 7th overall pick in April’s NFL draft, has reportedly been suffering from severe back pain due to a disc herniation for the past couple of months. It has been reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Williams suffered an acute herniation of one of his vertebrae, although the exact location is unknown, either at the combine or during his pro day. Apparently he was able to cover this up and did not allow it to affect his stock come draft day, so either he has an impressive pain tolerance or the back issue wasn’t bothering him much at that time.
Williams was diagnosed with a herniated disk after his first practice during rookie minicamp, and he did not practice again. Despite conservative measures, (presumably) including rest, anti-inflammatories, rehabilitation and strengthening, Williams’ back pain did not improve. He was already given one epidural shot to help calm down some of the inflammation. Unfortunately this did not seem to help much because as Adam Schefter’s report states, Williams needed a second epidural, likely in the same location, which is always a concerning sign. If Williams is still dealing with symptoms related to the herniated disk, typically these include pain, numbness, tingling, and sometimes feeling like one or both of his legs are ‘asleep’ then the next step would be to undergo back surgery. For Williams, the most likely back surgery that he would require is what is known as a microdiscectomy, which for Williams may mean missing most, if not all of the 2017 NFL season. I recently wrote about Rob Gronkowski, who is another player that suffered multiple disc herniations that required 3 separate microdiscectomies, if you want to read more about the injury in general. While I hope that Williams’ back issues never get to the extent of Gronkowski’s, you can get an idea of how severe this injury really is.
The goal for the second anti-inflammatory shot is to help calm down the inflammation in Williams’ spine and the nerves that are being affected by the disc herniation. Unfortunately if this second epidural is ineffective, Williams will not have much of a choice but to undergo the surgical procedure. I expect Williams to start the season on the PUP. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
This was written for the @TheFantasyDRS by Dr. Jesse Morse. I am a Board-Certified Family Medicine physician, and I am currently completing a Sports Medicine Fellowship at the University of South Florida in Tampa. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me directly at @DrJesseMorse or visit my website at: www.DrJesseMorse.com. Keep an eye out for my next article!