Rehab specialist: Colts’ temporarily shutting down Andrew Luck ‘not necessarily unexpected’

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 01: Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts walks on the sidelines in the second quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts’ decision to temporarily shut down the throwing portion of Andrew Luck’s on-going rehabilitation from January shoulder surgery isn’t unusual, but it’s a setback nonetheless.

To be determined is whether Luck is dealing with a short-term impediment, or something that recurs and forces the team to shut him down for the rest of the season. General manager Chris Ballard announced Wednesday Luck was given a cortisone shot to address inflammation in his surgically-repaired right shoulder.

“It doesn’t mean you’ve had a major setback or there’s an issue with the long-term health of (the right shoulder),’’ Jamey Gordon, a rehab specialist at St. Vincent Sports Performance, said Thursday.

It means Luck probably won’t be doing any throwing for the next five to 10 days.

“Once you inject it,’’ Gordon said, “you’ve got to let it sit and do its work or the injection is worthless. You don’t want to introduce anything that causes a re-irritation.

“It’s not necessarily unexpected that he’s experiencing an irritation.’’

Luck underwent surgery in January to address a posterior labrum tear. He began throwing to some extent in mid-July and practiced on a limited basis for the first time Oct. 4. Luck practiced twice in each of the last two weeks with a day in between each workout.

Ballard indicated Luck had been dealing with inflammation and soreness since ramping up his throwing regimen, and the team ultimately decided a cortisone shot in the shoulder and rest were the best short-term remedy.

Ideally, Ballard said, Luck will pick up where he left off when he’s cleared to resume throwing.

“That tells me they sort of pushed it to the limit with the workload (the shoulder) could handle, and that irritated it,’’ said Gordon, who has no personal knowledge of Luck’s surgery or rehab. “The reality is there probably is some minutiae in the throwing load they’ll back up just a bit.’’

If, for instance, Luck’s daily “pitch count’’ consisted of 50 passes before he was shut down, he might handle 35 or 40 when he returns and work his way back to 50.

“It certainly doesn’t sound like he’ll have a sling on and it’s going to be six months again,’’ Gordon said. “The interpretation of the term ‘setback’ . . . does that mean he went backwards or had a delay?

“In this case it sounds like a delay and not necessarily he went backwards.’’

Luck mentioned last week he was still learning to trust his right shoulder. He first suffered the labrum tear in week 3 of the 2015 season at Tennessee, and subsequently dealt with lingering pain.

The shoulder, Luck admitted “feels different. It’s still finding its way a little bit again. Certain things feel better. Some things (are) finding its way. It’s a process and we’re still in that process of getting to a point where it needs to be.

“I trust my arm more today that I did yesterday. That’s how it has to be every day, every week going forward.’’

Gordon explained surgery occasionally tightens the labrum more than it was, and that requires the individual to “go through a period of loosening it up.

“You have to get used to a new normal. He has to get used to what a new normal is.’’

Luck has missed the first six games and this setback almost assuredly means he’ll miss another month, at the very least. He might be looking at a December return.

Whatever the adjusted timetable might be, Gordon believes there’s still every reason to believe Luck can and should play this season.

“Is it a situation where they want to rush it? No,’’ he said. “But it’s also not a situation where in order to ensure his long-term health, ‘We’ve got to shut him down, just bag the whole season.’

“There’s 10 weeks left. There’s lots of time for him to get better.’’

Ballard said there was no thoughts of placing Luck on the season-ending injured reserve list “at this time.’’

Gordon agreed. It’s important, he noted, for Luck and the team to know where they stand heading into the offseason.

“If he gets in for four games, that’s four games more comfort for him back on the field that he’ll have going into next year,’’ Gordon said. “For any player, you’d rather them not be sitting on the sidelines when they can play. He’s going to have game rust to knock off.

“And it sounds like that’s what their plan is.’’

That plan most assuredly would change if Luck resumes throwing and the inflammation and soreness persist.

“If he goes through continual bouts of irritation, shutting down, irritation, shutting down, there probably is a good long-term reason to shut him down for the year,’’ Gordon said. “Once you have that trend, your body is not responding the way it should.’’

Might another procedure on the shoulder be required?

“That would be a really, really last resort,’’ Gordon said. “He would have to have multiple bouts of not being able to complete his throwing progression.

“It would be an extreme measure to go back in.’’

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