NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Two local doctors say it appears that Saints quarterback Drew Brees may have damaged a ligament on the inside of his thumb, and it likely impacted his ability to grip a football.
And while a repair should take about six weeks, both said it’s a fairly routine procedure.
The injury occurred while Brees was throwing the ball and hit the hand and shoulder of Rams defensive linemen Aaron Donald.
Only Brees’ doctor knows for sure, but two local doctors with experience in sports medicine -- Dr. Eric George and Dr. Christopher Marrero, said it appears he damaged his ulnar collateral thumb ligament.
George has worked on a number of Saints players plagued with a similar injury, which he said severely restricts a player’s ability to pass, or even hold, a football.
“They knew quickly when he tried to hold the ball that it wasn’t good for him,” George said.
George was at the game in Los Angeles Sunday (Sept. 16) and offered his services. He said one way to repair the damage involves re-attaching the ligament, along with surgical tape and using small set screws.
While Brees is one of the oldest quarterbacks in the NFL, Marrero, who works with LSU Health Sciences, said age shouldn’t be a big factor in his recovery from this injury.
“Younger is always a positive, but with this injury I think he will be able to come back,” Marrero said.
Marrero said sometimes, these injuries can be immobilized and will heal without surgery. But, for elite quarterbacks and receivers, he said surgery is often the best option.
“In patients who are high performance athletes, you want to get them back as soon as possible,” Marrero said.
If the surgery is warranted and goes well, Brees could begin partial rehab fairly soon, George said.
“My assumption is he will be immobilized for a week, and then they start some controlled motion week two or three, but it’s at least a four-week period for that ligament to re-attach,” he said.
And, they said with proper treatment and rehab, Brees has a strong likelihood, of making a good recovery.
Both doctors we spoke with said if Brees had continued playing Sunday, he could have done even more damage to his thumb. George and Marrero said the mere act of holding a football with that type of injury is extremely painful, and passing the ball was likely impossible.