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Report: Will Barton’s official diagnosis is “hip and core strain”

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Here’s what that means and why we don’t know much more today than we knew when he had the injury

Denver Nuggets Media Day Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The official injury listing for Will Barton is “right hip and core strain” per the inestimable Katy Winge, among others who forwarded the official release.

As a former injury rehab therapist, I can tell you that in medical terms this means basically nothing. While it’s slightly better than the NHL’s “lower body injury” designation, all it tells you is that he hurt his hip area and will be back later. There are many reasons for that. One of them is that the Denver Nuggets are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to discussing injuries. Jamal Murray played an entire year with a sports hernia that was not discussed publicly by anyone on the Denver staff. Mason Plumlee had a “core strain” last season that may also have been one (or more) hernias but remains unattributed.

But don’t believe that this is better or worse than some other diagnosis you had hoped for or feared. The level of strain is not discussed. The muscles involved are not listed.

Briefly, here’s what you should know:

  1. A strain means muscle fibers are involved. This is actually decently positive news. Sprains of the hip area can be extremely problematic as they usually involve torn ligaments and even cartilage (think: Wilson Chandler’s hip problems and surgeries). Not involving the hip labrum or other low-bloodflow tissues can mean a faster healing timeline.
  2. “hip and abdomen” is somewhat misleading. If you’re going to strain both, that normally is referred to as a “groin” strain (as both tie to the hip bone in the same area). See the below diagram for where the ab muscles are meeting the adductor longus and other inside leg muscles)
exhalepilateslondon.com

3. He is not looking at immediate surgery, so it is not a grade 3 strain. Grade 3 is the worst strain, a partial or full rupture of a muscle or tendon. This is likely a grade 2 of one or more muscles in that groin area, or could also be a potential herniation.

So based of the extremely limited information they have provided, it looks like a grade 2 “groin” strain of a muscle like the adductor longus, which would likely shelve Barton for 6-8 weeks at a minimum. How bad the “abdominal” part of this is, whether or not there’s muscle herniation, and how it responds to rest and treatment are all factors to be considered, but I would speculate that Barton will be out until December. These sorts of strains are tricky and, like hamstrings, deal with muscle groups that can have lingering and recurring injuries if they are not properly healed the first time.

I would expect Denver to reassess his condition in a month but for no public data to come out unless further testing reveals a worse injury situation than I’ve described above. Long story short: it looks like Barton will miss significant time and yet return in time for a stretch run in the new year, barring any complications.

Just don’t expect a more detailed update from the Nuggets for awhile - and with Will Barton’s ability to get back on the court faster than expected from previous strains and sprains, the hope is that he can accelerate that return date safely.

UPDATE: Marc Spears has tweeted that Will Barton will have surgery tomorrow on his adductor muscle, and gives a “5-6 weeks” recovery timeframe.

I don’t know if he means 6 weeks before he can get back to basketball activities or 6 weeks to re-entering the lineup in a game, but either way that still fits with the 6-8 week timeframe I mentioned above. All the best to Will Barton and his quick and full recovery!