The head physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers said quarterback Jay Cutler should not have finished the game and insisted he was fortunate that he didn’t endure a more serious knee injury.
“With a little bit more force, the next thing to go, in that situation, is the ACL,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles and team doctor for Dodgers. “So anybody who has a Grade II or Grade III that doesn’t have an ACL injury is lucky.”
As first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Cutler’s MRI Monday morning revealed that Cutler suffered a Grade II MCL tear in the second quarter of Sunday’s NFC title game against the Green Bay Packers.
ElAttrache also said that how Cutler and the Bears’ medical team staff handled the situation consistent with standard protocol.
“Initially, as soon as it happens, [the patient] may say, ‘That feels unusual. Then keep playing,’ ElAttrache said. “But as the knee bleeds, it becomes more stiff and uncomfortable. So initially, you might find a guy who can play a couple of series. But then when he doesn’t move around, his knee will stiffen up.
“Looking at it, as time went on, he became less mobile and more uncomfortable. If you feel you’re not too mobile, you’re not only putting yourself but your team at risk.”
Dr. David Thorson, who works with the U.S. Ski team, added that trying to continue to play would have increased the chances of Cutler tearing his ACL, a knee ligament that requires upwards of six months of rehabilitation.
With the Grade II MCL tear, the usual healing time, which doesn’t require surgery, is three to six weeks. Thorson added that Grade II MCL tears are the trickiest to diagnose. A Grade III is a complete tear, and a Grade I, he said, is just stretching, with a couple of fibers potentially tearing.
Grade II MCL tears are somewhere in the middle.
“The reality is, it’s not black and white,” he said. “How do you know if Grade I doesn’t have a few fibers torn? You can’t tell it, until you do an imaging study.
“There’s a broad range in there.”