David Chao, MD: Simmons Season Should Not Be Over, Will Miss Considerable Time

In what sounds like same book, next chapter: The Sixers potential may derailed by injury.

On an innocuous looking play, Ben Simmons injured his left knee and Philadelphia is left holding its breath again.

Reports say he suffered a patella subluxation and no ligament damage and treatment options are being considered.

Until one can assess the severity, examine the player, perform full imaging studies and evaluate overnight swelling a full prognosis won’t be known. The official day to day status is not to be believed. Simmons will be out indefinitely and the over/under is likely several weeks.

There is evidence of good news and bad news so far. The “good” news is the injury did not involve much trauma and looked like a fairly routine play. He left the stadium without even a wrap or brace on his knee indicating low worry for swelling or structural damage (which was confirmed by MRI). Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes famously dislocated his patella (completely out of place) and returned in just under four weeks and this is worse than subluxation (transient shift).

The bad news is any kneecap instability issue is tricky and does not carry magic/quick easy fixes. The fact there was no trauma could lead one to worry if there is an intrinsic laxity (looseness) to the patella and could portend easier recurrence. The way he was limping as he left the stadium indicates this was not a temporary scare. Basketball is high stress for the kneecap joint and even small issues can impact players more than other sports.

Philly fans are understandably sensitive to the health of their first round picks over the last few years. The teams 2014 3rd overall pick, missed his first two seasons with surgeries for a broken navicular (foot bone) and has had knee, back, neck and hand issues since. Jahlil Okafor didn’t finish his rookie campaign with knee surgery after the Sixers took him in 2015 with the 3rd overall draft pick. He has since moved on from the club. In 2016, Simmons was the number one overall pick and needed Jones fracture foot surgery. In 2017, Markelle Fultz was the top overall pick before he developed a big hitch in his shot attributed to a “scapular muscle imbalance” and/or thoracic outlet syndrome before being traded. These were supposed to be the core of the Sixers future dominance. 

Simmons season is not over for sure yet but this is not a minor deal for him. The hope is he can return after a few weeks of rehab. The worst case scenario (hope not) could even mean eventual surgery.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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