The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

SEC News: Razorbacks’ Hatcher Recovers from Bone Graft Foot Surgery

Posted by on Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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We’ve been following the mysterious foot surgery of Arkansas Razorbacks’ Wide Receiver Kon Hatcher with interest – and some of the mystery has finally lifted. You might recall that the senior missed 11 games after breaking a foot in his second game last season. At the time, he was the team’s leading receiver with 198 yards run and two touchdowns. Doctors estimated he’d be out six weeks, but he sat out the whole season and resumed training this spring – only to find himself back in a walking boot following a second foot surgery. What happened?

bone graft foot surgery
The Razorbacks have seen a rise in foot injuries recently. (Image Source: Wikimedia user University of Arkansas)

How Serious Is Hatcher’s Most Recent Foot Surgery?

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema downplayed the recent surgery, saying, “Basically all they did is take the procedure that was done before and reinforce it. What they really wanted was to put some bone graft in around it to make it even stronger on him moving forward. So it wasn’t another fracture. It wasn’t another big procedure. It was really just straightening out one done in the past.” Again, he said the recovery timetable is “four to six weeks,” which would put Hatcher at full-time practice in mid-June. Based on our knowledge of bone graft surgery and recovery time, Bielema’s assessment seems reasonable.

Bone Graft Foot Surgery

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society explains that bone grafts are done to “provide bony support and/or fill in areas where bone is absent.” The bone reinforcement may come from a cadaver or from a portion of the patient’s tibia.

Our NYC foot surgeons opt to use bone grafts in four scenarios:

  • A multiple or complex fracture didn’t heal completely after initial treatment.
  • A fusion procedure with reinforcement is needed to strengthen a joint that has been ravaged by arthritis.
  • Infection or injury has caused bone loss and additional filler is required for regeneration.
  • A plate or screws have been implanted to help the bone heal, and more reinforcement is needed to hold everything in place.

A few weeks may be added onto recovery time if the bone has also been harvested from the patient, as it will take time for the wound to close. Infection is the biggest concern, but this complication is rare. Some residual pain is possible. At our NY podiatry office, we use stem cell treatments to aid bone graft healing.

 Rash of Razorbacks’ Foot Injuries Cited

Since last August, the team has lost Hatcher, Kody Walker, Cody Hollister, Jonathan Williams and D.J. Dean to foot problems. “Believe me after the second foot injury, I was concerned,” Bielema said. According to him, “The injuries themselves have come from five different turfs. We had one on outside grass, indoor turf, our home stadium as well as an away game stadium for the six or seven foot injuries. All of them except for one had a different shoe so it was all type of different shoes. In addition, the function of how they broke it was all different functions as well. There is no common denominator.”

It’s possible to avoid injuries in a high-intensity game like professional football, but the problems the Razorbacks face are unfortunately common. In our experience, fatigue increases the likelihood of getting hurt, and stress fractures and soft tissue injuries to the foot and ankle often occur when players do not have the necessary conditioning and strength to offload pressure. Lack of conditioning is also why we tend to see more of these injuries occurring early in the season. Other times, upticks in injuries correspond with practice changes.

Here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC, we help professional athletes stay at the top of their game with foot and ankle conditioning workouts, as well as treatment for acute and chronic injuries. Contact us to learn more.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.