The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Greg Olsen Injury Report: Carolina Panthers’ Player Breaks His Foot

Posted by on Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Maybe you hear the crunch, or maybe you feel ice cold blood rushing down into your foot. Either way, it’s hard to mistake the sensation of a foot bone snapping during intense activity. Greg Olsen, tight end with the Carolina Panthers, is one of the latest NFL players to report a dreaded foot fracture. It’s a devastating blow for a hardy player who has caught 625 passes as the first tight end to post three straight 1,000-yard campaigns. Olsen has played over 160 games and hasn’t missed a single one since 2007. “It’s tough. It sucks,” he said succinctly. So what’s next for Carolina fans? We’ve seen and treated many broken feet in our Manhattan and White Plains sports medicine practices, so we can report on Greg Olsen’s injury and provide an idea of how his recovery will likely play out.

Greg Olsen's broken foot
The Carolina Panthers will be missing Greg Olsen for the better part of the season due to a broken foot. Image Source: Wikimedia user Diddykong1130.

How Was Greg Olsen Injured?

There was no contact between Olsen and Buffalo Bills’ safety Jordan Poyer just before Olsen limped off the field on September 17th. It appeared that an errant step snapped the bone in his right foot. After a trip to the locker room in the last few minutes of the second quarter, Olsen returned to the sidelines in the fourth quarter on crutches, dispelling early rumors that he would be back in the game. “The X-ray was pretty conclusive,” Olsen said.

Analyst Kaleel Weatherly sums up the impact Olsen’s foot injury will have on the team: “The Panthers are going to miss Olsen’s presence on the field. Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowler, is Cam Newton’s go-to target on third down and in the red zone. He can line up in the slot, out wide, and line up along the offensive line to block. Olsen is an all-around tight end who can do anything on the field.”

When Will Olsen Return?

The following day, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera confirmed that Olsen had surgery to repair his injury. During the procedure, a stabilizing screw was placed in the bone to help it heal. The procedure reportedly went “well,” but Rivera refused to speculate how long Olsen would be out. NFL insiders say a 6-8 week timetable is likely. That would put him back for a November 26th match against the New York Jets—which you’ll all be watching, no doubt! Worst case scenario, it could be a season-ending injury.

Recovering From a Jones Fracture

Given the description of the injury, we can safely presume Olsen suffered a Jones fracture. The fifth metatarsal, a long bone running down the outside of the foot, is a common spot of injury among professional football, basketball, and soccer athletes. Non-athletes may not require screw fixation, but it’s almost always warranted to stabilize high-level athletes who want to swiftly resume intense competition.

The 6-8 week projection is really an optimistic “best-case scenario.” In our experience, athletes who push themselves too much too soon after this type of injury often suffer a stunted healing process and numerous setbacks that can persist for up to two years. Some players even end up needing a second surgery. We’ve seen this before with players such as Dez Bryant, Julian Edelman, and Sammy Watkins.

On the bright side, there is a reason to breathe a sigh of relief. A study published last month in Sports Health noted a 98.7% return to play rate after screw fixation fracture surgeries in professional athletes. Players returned to pre-injury performance levels within one season, and fifth metatarsal fracture patients experienced no drop in performance for at least three seasons after their surgeries. We wish Olsen a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the field again soon!

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City offers top-level care for athletes who have broken a foot. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about the services we offer.

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.