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November 1, 2017 | 10:45am ET
Surgery best bet for Parise to return to form

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- With injuries plaguing the Minnesota Wild lineup, one player in particular has been attracting a lot of attention for his choice of treatment plan.

Zach Parise, who suffered a sports hernia, decided last week to undergo a surgery known as microdiscectomy after failing to feel healthy enough to return to the lineup.

Dr. Shahnawaz Qureshi, Assistant Professor in Clinical Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester, said that Parise has followed the correct treatment plan for his injury recommended by the medical community.

"You never want to jump to surgery up-front," said Qureshi. "The first line of treatment is physical therapy... the vast majority of patients will heal on their own and won’t need surgery."

Questions surrounding the treatment plan for Parise’s back injury were refuted by Qureshi, who indicated every surgery has risks and if there is a method to recovery without surgery from an injury it is generally recommended to follow that avenue first.

"It is not a hesitation [to undergo surgery], the first treatment is physical therapy followed by pain injections. If the patient fails that treatment then you do surgery," he said.

In a contact-sport such as hockey, where the hits are forceful from body checks to stick checks, the road to recovery is not as black and white. A herniated disk occurs when trauma, usually by blunt force, displaces the disk in the back from its natural position. When this occurs, often the disk encroaches on the spinal cavity putting pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves which causes symptoms from pain to muscle weakness.

Parise has been undergoing physical therapy for months, at times even denying media reports that it was his back that was slowing him down during training camp. After missing the first two weeks of the regular season he made the choice to undergo the surgery in an effort to regain his full health.

This procedure however, does not permanently fix his back.

"Athletes once they are fully recovered can go back to what they were doing with the understanding that there might another disk herniation," Qureshi said. "Having the surgery does not preclude [Parise] from going back to surgery."

The disk in Parise’s back is now considered disrupted, which means the chance for re-injury is more likely and furthermore it may be at higher risk of re-injury after the procedure.

"It is better to avoid contact-sports or high-impact trauma after surgery," said Qureshi.

Fans in the State of Hockey, knowing Parise and his bulldog mentality, should rest assured that this injury will not slow him down once he is back at one hundred percent. His tenacity around the puck and his bravery around the net made him into the player that he is today and fans should not expect a change in his style of play just because of this bump in the road.

Parise has made his living around the net, taking the hits, digging for pucks in the crease while the opposition physically batters his body to keep him from putting the puck in the net. Minnesota does need him healthy; with no cap relief by placing him on long term injured reserve, the Wild have been shuffling players from the Iowa Wild, their minor league affiliate to fill in roster spots while remaining salary cap compliant.

The team announced they expect Parise to return sometime in December or January, though an official timetable is not available.

Nick Maxson is the Minnesota Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.


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