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INJURY: herniated disk
OUTLOOK: unlikely to play Week 17
I have never, ever been so confused by a story. I'm not saying someone is lying or wrong, but the varying leaks from all sides make the limited information that the Cowboys are giving out nearly impossible to parse. I'll try to make this as clear as possible, but understand that's like going from pitch black to a candle in the distance.
Here's the facts we know: Tony Romo has a back problem that is causing him pain in his lower back and hip. That's it. That's all we know. Everything else is leaks, conjecture or speculation.
We don't know when this happened. Romo has had surgery on his back before, but it was said to be a cyst removal. There have been questions about that. Some have asked why, if this was an ongoing problem, this wouldn't be on the official injury report. The answer is that the OIR is not about injury, but about availability. If the team did not feel there was a chance that Romo would miss time (which he hasn't), it doesn't have to be listed. It is an interesting bit of info that he's been able to make all practices as well as games.
So whether its a new, traumatic herniation or one that's been ongoing and maintained, the question is why things accelerated to the point where he would need to be shut down. Normally a herniation is handled conservatively with treatment and injections long before surgery is discussed. The epidural injection that Romo reportedly had on Monday should relieve the symptoms, but if it doesn't, it comes down to pain tolerance and function.
The other confusing factor is that both his previous surgery and the reported injection happened in the mid-back (thoracic spine), but the symptomology for this matches up with a lower-back issue. The body is ennervated in a specific way, so pain can usually be traced. Hip pain would come from L4/5, which is much lower than the reported area. Something's off here.
The Cowboys don't seem close to making a decision so we'll have to watch right up to game time. While the Cowboys brought in Jon Kitna, this is really about what the medical staff can do and whether Romo can safely play the game. Right now, we just don't know and neither does it.
For more detailed medical info on this condition, Dr. Dave Siebert has a great breakdown.