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Jonathan Taylor’s thumb surgery: Insights on recovery and the challenges ahead

RB Jonathan Taylor’s thumb surgery is a big hit for the Colts offense. We cover what fans should expect as Taylor recovers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Jonathan Taylor injured his thumb a week ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reports surfaced this week that he was likely to miss time, with owner Jim Irsay suggesting a 2-3 weeks recovery timeline. There’s more to this story that fans need to understand.

Ian Rapoport reported that on Wednesday, Dr. Steven Shin, a respected hand specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, operated on Taylor. The surgery addressed a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his thumb. Despite playing the second half against the Bucs with this injury, there is no way Taylor could avoid addressing the injury this week.

The ligament had torn off from the base of the thumb and flipped over the tendon. This necessitated immediate surgery to reposition the ligament and avoid future complications like a loose tendon. Dr. Shin employed an internal brace technique on the ligament, similar to what he did for Drew Brees in 2019. This approach promises a quicker recovery, potentially cutting down months of rehabilitation to a matter of weeks.

The Colts have strategically not placed Taylor on injured reserve, hinting at a possible return before the four-week mark. Impressively, Taylor was back with the team the day after surgery, a testament to his resilience and commitment.

However, I wanted to know more about the injury and share what I learned with the fan base. A UCL injury, often resulting from extreme thumb positions during sports, leads to pain, swelling, and grip weakness. Depending on the degree of instability, treatments can range from immobilization to surgical intervention. In the past, such injuries often spelled season-ending prospects for athletes, but advances in surgical techniques have dramatically altered this narrative.

A brace in modern surgery reinforces the ligament during the healing process, enabling earlier rehabilitation but it doesn’t expedite the healing process. Hence, while a quicker return to play is possible, it’s not guaranteed. According to Dr. Clayon Nelson, the recovery time may be 5-6 weeks for many athletes.

In light of these facts, fans should be cautiously optimistic. While it’s reasonable to expect the Colts’ medical staff will do everything they can to protect Taylor and expedite his potential return, it’s important to understand that recovery timelines can vary based on individual responses to surgery and rehabilitation.