Xabi Alonso, the playmaking midfielder for Real Madrid, had surgery this week. With the uncertainty surrounding Los Merengues this summer, adding in a new unknown will not make things less complicated for Florentino Perez and whoever comes in as manager.
Alonso had surgery on what media reports, including this one from Reuters, call a "nagging groin injury." Given the surgery, the doctor chosen and the expected three- to four-month rehab, it is likely that Alonso had a sports hernia. This type of injury is unfortunately common for footballers, but the treatments have started to catch up.
Alonso had been used sparingly during the latter portion of the season, largely in Champions League and Copa del Rey play. While this did allow Luka Modric more time on the pitch, it was likely also to protect Alonso through an ongoing injury.
The history with this type of injury is extensive after the diagnosis was first sussed out. It is a difficult diagnosis, with the pain referred from the groin to the abdomen. Players can often continue playing through the pain, as Alonso did, though it can get worse, leading to a more extensive repair.
Alonso's surgery was performed by Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck, one of the world's top experts in this diagnosis and the creator of two widely used techniques to repair the problem. While Real Madrid did not confirm that Alonso's injury was a sports hernia, the choice of Dr. Muschaweck is very telling.
Other players who have dealt with this type of injury include Didier Drogba, who played through the injury in 2010, and Pepe Reina, who had surgery on his sports hernia in 2011. American athletes who have dealt with this include Adrian Peterson, who had surgery just after his season ended in 2012, and Josh Hamilton in 2011. The injury is also very prevalent in hockey, due to the way the legs are used, pushing out rather than the more linear motion of running.
Alonso's recovery should match the expectation of three to four months. Watch to see when he is running again, which should come sometime in August, for an indication of just when he could be fit enough for play.
Real Madrid's world-class medical staff is likely to be conservative with him at the start of the season, knowing that the bursts that Alonso is famous for are exactly when the repair would be at the most risk.
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