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Dr. Morgan on Schilling's painful shoulder

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  February 8, 2008 11:38 AM

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If Curt Schilling does not have surgery, his physician is of the opinion that the Sox righty may never pitch again.

Dr. Craig Morgan, who operated on Curt Schilling’s shoulder twice, in 1995 and 1999, and whom Schilling sought out for a second opinion, spoke about Schilling’s injury and treatment options on sports radio WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show this morning.

Morgan confirmed that he has a difference of opinion than those of the Red Sox doctors on Schilling’s shoulder injury.

“We do have a difference of opinion, not only on the course of treatment, but the diagnosis, and a difference of opinion on potential for return to pitching, and on the time frame for all of those items I mentioned,” Morgan said.

Morgan believes that having surgery now gives Schilling the best opportunity to come back sometime after the All-Star break. Morgan was asked, if Schilling does not have surgery, when he might be able to pitch again.

“Never,” replied Morgan. “And that’s my opinion."

“This is a progression of disease that’s been going on silently probably for several years, became symptomatic last year, and has progressed to this point where normally, think of the tendon as sort of an electrical cable, and within the cable there’s a thousand wires. It’s all one solid single tube.”

“When the tendon becomes irreversibly diseased, which my opinion is that it is now, the fibers are bundles within the single tendon, can start to separate longitudinally. It isn’t torn cross-wise, it separates into these bands of spaghetti would be a good term to have a layman understand it. And once you see that, which is how it appears on his recent MRI, then really conservative measures will not resolve the pain. And without resolving the pain by conservative measures, I see no shot at being able to have him become pain free and strengthening of the shoulder muscles with or without a cortisone shot. I don’t think this guy will even be able to exercise, to be able to find out whether that approach is successful in any way, shape, or form.

“And the real issue here is if you blow six or eight weeks, trying that to see, and it’s unsuccessful, then if you try to pull the trigger on surgery, you’ve blown six to eight weeks, and then the season may be gone.

“In the final analysis, what you do now is going to determine all those issues. And you have to understand, he may be done pitching no matter what. That’s looming out there as well," Morgan said.

Morgan said Schilling was in pain when he started his exercise program before January, and when he started his offseason throwing program, he had a dramatic increase in pain.

“And by dramatic, he told me he could throw a ball five feet. By dramatic, I mean this guy’s got pain opening a door. He was not able to complete all of the positions that were requested for his MRI on Jan. 24 because he couldn’t put his arm above his head and hold it there without excruciating pain -- that’s what we’re talking about here.”

“I think his chances of that [Red Sox rehab recommendations] being successful to the point where he can rehab, get stronger, and become pain-free to be able pitch effectively – are near zero,” Morgan said.

Listen to Dr. Morgan's entire interview on WEEI here.

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