J.J. Watt has never missed a regular season game in his five years with the Texans, but there is concern this year may be a first. Reports say Watt underwent back surgery this week for a herniated disk, and he could be out two months or more.
Dr. Neil Badlani is a spine surgeon and orthopedic surgeon at The Orthopedic Sports Clinic. He works with athletes like Watt, and says herniated disks are very common -- especially for players like J.J.
“It’s a common injury in athletes, it’s particularly common in football lineman. They’re obviously carrying a lot of force on their bodies, a lot of pressure when they push off, a lot of pressure when they block,” Badlani said.
He said the standard surgery for a herniated disk is an hour-long outpatient procedure, but recovery time can vary patient to patient.
“The disk has an injury, and that injury is because of tearing in the outer part of the disk that causes the herniation. That tearing has to heal, and after the surgery, it really takes six to eight weeks for that disk to heal,” Badlani said.
After the disk heals, Badlani said patients usually need another four to six weeks of rehab.
However, Watt is no ordinary athlete. He’s known for his rigorous training methods, and with that in mind, he's expected to have a faster recovery than the average patient.
When the Texans report to camp next week, Watt will be on the “physically unable to perform” list.
If Watt wants to be ready for the first game of the season, he’ll have to be back in shape in just seven weeks. The Texans play the Chicago Bears on September 11.