Versatile Lakers wing Josh Hart has dealt with right knee pain — termed “right knee tendinitis” — for the entire season. It began in Summer League, lingered through December, and blew up on him in early January, leading to a significant downturn in all his numbers, and particularly affecting his jump shot (as the patellar tendon plays a key role in jumping).
Unfortunately, the Lakers were never able to get out in front of the injury — critical in dealing with tendon issues — and then decided to use a PRP injection just before the All Star break to attempt to “jump start” the body’s own healing process and help alleviate some of the symptoms (for more on that procedure, I wrote about it here).
That didn’t work. Still, the injury couldn’t be made worse by playing, so Hart continued to slog through it, clearly limited. However, in recent days, with the team eliminated from playoff contention and the season winding down, Hart and the medical staff opted it was the right time to have a more invasive procedure, “ultrasonic debridement of the patellar tendon”.
To explain that procedure, how it will affect Hart moving forward into the summer and if he’ll return to 100% for next season, I created this video:
To sum it all up, this state-of-the-art surgery is able to target damaged parts of the tendon in a less-invasive manner than previous surgeries. And although it’s relatively new — the first time I heard about it was in 2016, after Anthony Davis had it done on his patellar tendon — the early outcomes are very good.
With methodical rehab for the better part of three months, I fully expect Josh Hart to be 100% heading into training camp and, perhaps even more importantly, having learned an invaluable lesson: That a proactive mindset in dealing with injuries rather than a “suck it up and play through pain” mentality will save you a lot of grief while enhancing and prolonging your career. After all, health and performance are two sides of the same coin. It’s a key lesson for any athlete to learn and apply early on in their careers.
Dr. Rajpal Brar has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 1.5 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), and analyzes the Lakers from a medical perspective for Silver Screen and Roll.