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Percy Harvin's surgery and feasibility of return

Percy Harvin undergoes surgery today. We take a look at the nature and extent of his injury and examine the feasibility of the three-to-four month return.

Hannah Foslien

Yesterday evening, Percy Harvin tweeted out that he was going to need surgery on his ailing hip. Subsequent reports have the Seahawks and Harvin planning for surgery on Thursday. Already, with the surgery yet to be completed, this injury has everyone speculating as to when Harvin will return and what affect his absence will have on our division rivals. Ian Rapoport tweeted that he had been told it was a three to four month timetable. Generally, when timetables are given for any injury, we are looking at a "best-case" scenario.

The Seahawks had listed Harvin on its Active/PUP with a hip injury to start training camp. The Seahawks doctors reportedly did not think Harvin needed surgery. Harvin went to New York for a second opinion, and surgery was the answer. It is clear Harvin, at best, will be moved to the Reserve/PUP. If Seattle keeps him on the Reserve/PUP, he could be activated as early as week 7 and as late as week 15 (according to the new rules). It is also possible the Seahawks could use the IR with return designation, depending on the nature and extent of his injury. But, I believe the Seahawks will go the Reserve/PUP route.

The hip is a ball and socket joint and around the socket is the labrum. The labrum allows the joint to move fluidly and keeps the joint from dislocating. When an athlete begins to experience hip and/or groin pain, or when it feels like the joint gives out, snags, sticks or pops, this is an indication the labrum is torn or shredded.

Harvin will likely undergo what is known as hip arthroscopy for the labrum. It is interesting Harvin wanted a second opinion. I am curious what specifically the Seattle doctor concluded and wonder if Harvin trusted what the team's doctors advised. Carroll pointed to Chancellor making it through the season with "a similar problem" and I wonder if that was an indication of what the Seattle team doctors had advised. In any event, Harvin went with the second opinion and elected surgery.

It may indicate there is not a clear-cut diagnostic test confirming the tear. As an example, I mean an x-ray showing bone spurs (which cause tears) or a confirmed MRI documenting the actual tear. Another scenario could be the tear is minimal and conservative treatment (e.g., cortisteroids [anti-inflammatories], pain relievers and rest) failed to relieve his symptoms. Doctors may feel the need to go in and do what is called a debridement. With arthroscopic surgery, a surgeon shaves away the torn tissue, cleans out the debris in the socket, and/or stitches the labrum to repair it. Once inside, the surgeon will be able to locate the exact nature of the problem. If the labrum is detached, the surgeon will anchor the labrum back on the bone.

The usual recovery timetable on labrum arthroscopy is 12 weeks. It is the quicker, less invasive form of hip surgery. Following surgery, physical and occupational therapy starts almost as early as 3-4 weeks. The labrum itself heals relatively quickly, but the joint affects several surrounding muscles and soft tissue. The problem with activity too early is pain. Everyone has a different pain threshold. But, if Harvin progresses well, he could be practicing at 12-weeks from today. I suspect the participation will be minimal in the beginning. However, if he doesn't experience any setbacks, once the labrum heals -- he could see marked improvement shortly thereafter. I cannot see him out past 16-weeks from the day of his surgery.

I anticipate the Seahawks will wait until after the surgery to make a decision on how they classify Harvin from an injury standpoint. The surgeon will be able to give the team a better idea of the extent of the injury and will indicate what is to be expected. Certainly, a three to four month mark is feasible, and we will keep an eye on things as more details emerge.

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