Nerve Injury Question

Submitted by Ziff72 on October 29th, 2012 at 8:23 AM

I just had a question from Saturday that puzzled me. I'm not questioning Denard's toughness or the seriousness of the injury just don't really understand the ramifications of a nerve problem.    Maybe someone has some experience with the unjury or was there and knows better, but this is what I saw and then heard from Hoke.

1. Denard gets hurt.... some sort of nerve thing where he has trouble gripping the ball.

2. Denard stands on the sideline with a big coat on.

3. Hoke says he kept checking with trainer and Denard said he can't grip the ball well enough to play.

If the trainers didn't see the injury as serious enough to rule him out shouldn't he have been in the training room getting some treatment?   Not sure what they could do to help a nerve situation but standing in the freezing cold couldn't have been helping it.

Is the injury something that can be numbed?  Denard didn't look in too much pain on the sidelines.  Would playing Denard at qb and having him not pass been a better solution?   Obviously,  in hindsight it could not have been worse.  Just saying at the time I wonder if it was something they discussed.  






Southern Blue

October 29th, 2012 at 8:29 AM ^

It's not something that can be numbed because numbness is the problem (though I'm sure his elbow hurts like hell).  If he pinched the nerve in his elbow, he is not going to have any feeling in his hand and have no ability to control his fingers.  I have no idea what kind of treatment exists for this but I can understand why they couldn't put him back in.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:29 AM ^

Numbing the pain is not the issue. Can't throw and can't protect the ball is the issue.

This is not the first comment I've seen where someone basically feels that if Denard were not in visible pain than someone should have toughened him up. Yikes.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:35 AM ^

I think you missed the point. He was asking: if Denard was eligible to come back into the game once his grip came back, was there any type of treatment availible in order to expedite the process?  From my limited understanding, things like this (as long as they don't require surgury) just have to go away-- not sure there was much to be done. 


October 29th, 2012 at 8:35 AM ^

I think you missed the point. He was asking: if Denard was eligible to come back into the game once his grip came back, was there any type of treatment availible in order to expedite the process?  From my limited understanding, things like this (as long as they don't require surgury) just have to go away-- not sure there was much to be done. 


October 29th, 2012 at 8:51 AM ^

I clearly state in my post I was not questioning anyones toughness.  I assumed he was out for the game, but Hoke said in his presser he kept checking to see if he was ready to go.   On the TV coverage they never showed Denard doing anything but standing there.   If he was cleared to play I would thought you get treatment.


October 29th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

confused about that too.  Not a questioning of "toughness" thing I don't think, but then again I really don't know what it would be questioning other than that.  Denard has had that same injury in previous games and has returned to throw the ball just fine.  That was a very puzzling situation.  Hoke said he "could not grip the ball very well," kind of strange considering that Martinez could not, uh, walk very well, but played through it and did what he could.  Denard is one of my favorite Michigan players of all time, but I think that I could speak for a lot of people that don't feel like they should say it when I ask what the hell was all that about?  I guess we'll see.


October 29th, 2012 at 9:44 AM ^

I think I speak for as many, if not more, people who are saying how the tapdancing hell can you say that because someone else with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT INJURY was playing in the game, Denard should have been playing?

"Well, remember that time Ronnie Lott amputated the tip of his finger? You can TOTALLY keep playing. What? You can't hold the football? And your arm is basically a damp noodle right now? Oh. Well, there was that time that Jack Youngblood played on a broken leg. So get back in there"


October 29th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

I had a bloody nose this morning at work but didn't let it stop me from working.  So clearly, Denard should have gone back in the football game Saturday night.




October 29th, 2012 at 12:10 PM ^

ijohnb - you've been on a roll since the Nebraska game, and not in a good way.  I don't think you should be allowed to post after losses. 

I love it how you say that you're not questioning Denard's toughness, but follow it up by saying you don't know what else it would be.  Today at work I want you to say to your boss, "Boss, I'm not saying this screw up is your fault, I just don't know who else's fault it could possibly be" and see what he says.  Report back later. 

Also - how do you know Denard has had this same injury and returned to throw just fine?  Did you diagnose him on the sidelines on Saturday?  Even if he's had the same type of injury before, how do you know it's of the same severity?  You're making some BIG assumptions here. 

Assuming you're right (you're not) and Denard has had this same exact injury before and returned, what could possibly explain him not returning on Saturday?  He hates Michigan football?  He doesn't like playing football anymore?  He was chilly and liked the warm coat?  Seriously man, think before you post sometimes, and you won't look like such an ass. 

NYC Blue

October 29th, 2012 at 10:35 AM ^

There are both oral and injectable anti-inflammatory treatments available.  Presumably he got both at halftime.  Then it is just a matter of waiting to see if/when they work. 

I also thought about the idea of putting him in to just run (he holds the ball in his other hand) but what would you do on 3rd and 10?  And if you did not pass on that down, I think Nebraska would figure out pretty quickly that he was absolutely zero passing threat and even Denard can not run against 11 defenders keyed to play the run.  Plus you run the risk of further aggravating the injury.  And hand-offs and snaps become problematic as well. 

So I don't think there was any alternative to holding him out of the game until his grip came back.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:33 AM ^

I have had some nerve injuries and at least one problem you can have is that it is already numb. I have carpal tunnel in both hands, one is worse than the other. At its height, I had numbness in my hand, and my grip was weak - I had a hard time squeezing a rubber ball, for instance. In my case, the nerves to my fingers were being compressed by swelling as they passed through my wrist. I received a cortisone shot to reduce the swelling in the passageway and got a lot of relief. 

The nerves send impulses to the muscles to work, so if the impulses can't get to where they need to go, the muscles can't work properly. That said, I don't know what his injury is. I do know it takes time for nerves to heal, and there isn't much that can be done except facilitating the process by not using the area or reducing swelling around it. 


October 29th, 2012 at 12:03 PM ^

cute, but carpal tunnel isn't fun.  It doesn't just go away, it gets worse and worse over time, until you have to have the surgery to correct the problem.

Numbness and tingling , weakness,  a sensation your fingers are swollen when they are not, pain in the wrist, etc.


El Jeffe

October 29th, 2012 at 8:38 AM ^

I vote for a giant squishy elbow pad for Denard (Hallowed Be His Name) whenever He comes back. This is the same thing that happened against U of I, no?


October 29th, 2012 at 8:40 AM ^

I am a recently retired veteran that has several nerve related injuries as I have several herniated/ruptured disks in my neck and back.  When the neck injury is aggravated I have problems maintaining a strong grip on anything I may be carrying and I lose some strength in my arms.  In addition, there is nothing you can do or take for it.  Whether it is inflammation or another issue compressing that nerve, you can only reduce the impingement to bring about relief.  

I just hope he doesn't have permanent nerve damage.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:44 AM ^

He most likely has a contusion to his ulnar nerve.  There is no quick treatment or recovery for this.  You just have to give it time to recover.  Injury to this nerve results in numbness and weakness in your hand.  The duration and severity of the symptoms vary greatly depending on the degree of impact and location.  Sometimes recovery can be very quick, sometimes several days.  You could see him grab his wrist and hand when it happened, that's because when this nerve is impacted hard enough, it feels like a knife has been stuck in your hand, not very conducive to playing quarterback.  The only treatment is time.


State Street

October 29th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

Wait, so you're saying Denard has an injury to his wrist/hand area that was visible on TV?  Oh no!  Hopefully our opponents don't look at the tape and deduce where his injury lies.  Good thing our coaches are lying about the injury to confuse them. 

Blue Ninja

October 29th, 2012 at 11:31 AM ^

I too have had the same injury, actually did it on the job. Hit my elbow extremely hard on a machine and ended up going to the emergency room and then seeing an elbow specialist. The only thing they could do for me was put a protective pad and brace around it, which limited my mobility and didn't really protect it much whenever I bumped it.

You are correct in that the only way to treat it is time, it's very painful, you lose strength in your hand and arm plus its difficult to do simple tasks. The only other treatment that was mentioned was to go in and move the nerve to the interior of the arm but the dr said he couldn't garauntee it would fix the problem. In my case I have a bone spur on my elbow and that's what irritates the nerve. It did eventually go away but it took a long time and even to this day I cannot lean on that elbow and bumping it can bring instant pain. I cannot imagine being a football player like Denard with that injury.

It's very difficult to say how much he will play the rest of the season. I imagine his ability to throw accurately will be severly tested and as we all know he's not entirely accurate when healthy. Didn't he have this injury last season? If this continues to be an issue they had better get Bellomy and the receivers a lot of rep time together.


October 29th, 2012 at 8:57 AM ^

If it was an ulnar nerve injury, that affects his pinky and ring fingers in his hand, the other 3 fingers are stimulated by the median nerve. Depending on how damaged the nerve was, it usually takes a couple minutes to a couple days for full recovery. Treatment is usually rest, but you can possibly try to electrically stimulate the nerve as well. Here is an extreme version of this that is not for those who are easily disgusted with blood and surgery 


October 29th, 2012 at 9:01 AM ^

I was watching the game with a family member who works in the medical field.  He said exactly as you have that the ulner nerve would affect the pinky and ring finger only.  He says he's known people that have taken over a year for the numbness to completely go away.  Not saying this will take that long to heal for Denard or that it can't reach a manageable level to play through more quickly than that, but this could take some time.


October 29th, 2012 at 9:14 AM ^

Eeyore's refrain of 'Days, weeks, months, who knows' applies here.

Depends on if there is just a contusion (aka neuropraxic) or injury to the axons themselves (axonotmesis).

You can go by clinical signs (sensation, hand strength improving) or you can do an EMG/NCV test to evaluate for axonal damage (nerve conduction study will demonstrate a conduction block at the cubital tunnel for both).

But there is no way Denard could have played Saturday after this injury.  He would have diminished ability to grip with his right hand, in addition to impaired sensation on the medial aspect of the hand as well.


October 29th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

The unlar nerve controls the the main flexors of the ring and small fingers, however it also controls the intrinsic muscles of the hand for all fingers including the thumb. (these muscles control the side to side movement of your fingers and thumb strength)  In summary, damage to the unlar nerve affects the entire hand.

His Dudeness

October 29th, 2012 at 9:00 AM ^

Numbness is part of the injury so it wouldn't really help to numb it. Sometimes when you get hit in a certain spot on your elbow, shoulder, neck you lose the dexterity in your hands and fingers. Sometimes it comes back quickly and sometimes is takes a while. If you can't grip it you can't really be an effective QB.


October 29th, 2012 at 9:14 AM ^

just shocking the back-up wasn't given more game time in certain blowout games.  Seems to me, Denard getting injured has always been high risk.


October 29th, 2012 at 10:16 AM ^

yeah u would think this would and should have been adressed,espically when moving origanal back up gardner to wide out,there is no excuse for no one , bellomy might be a diffrent qb,not a spread man but you would think  hoke woulda got him some more playtime,and when they did give it to him whenever he has its been mostly handoffs,or weak pass,if this was our future he shoulda been prepared in a pro hybrid ,we need to see him throw better balls,wich al borgess even with a blowout win in hand still played him too conservative, shows his lackof producing great pro style,or any with his new qb next year,yeah qb need to be smart also, but also coaching him better prepared woulda helped more in building confidence in bellomy,where i stress in my posts it lies in coaching,,,


October 29th, 2012 at 9:23 AM ^

I cut my ulnar nerver basically in half on my throwing hand. I still question whether or not he could've at least run the ball with a bad hand. Although I can speak from experience (college baseball) that the cold really does hinder the ability to regain any feeling in the hand. I am curious what nerve he damaged but I definitely think it would be hard to throw a football if it was the ulnar because that is basically the nerve for the ring and pinky fingers so his passes would have presumably fluttered because he would either grip too tightly or not tightly enough. 


October 29th, 2012 at 9:30 AM ^

Do you think if he carried the ball in his left hand that he would get extreme cutting pain as someone mentioned above on every hit or is it more of a rare occurence that he would experience severe pain during the course of a half being basically a running back?


October 29th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

No way would there be that kind of pain unless the nerve was pinched in a joint. If it was a bruised nerve he just wouldn't have felt anything. I cut my nerver 2+ years ago now and still have no feeling in half of my "throwing" hand but to date I have never felt any pain from it. Just a tingle and numbness. Good thing I work in IT now. :)


October 29th, 2012 at 9:26 AM ^

Would he have really been a worse option? He's the only offensive threat we have. An offense consisting of QB leads and an occasional "oh no" could NOT have been worse than what I witnessed.


October 29th, 2012 at 10:35 AM ^

Its funny that people honestly had this same question on Saturday night (I'm guilty as well, I actually wondered the same myself at one point).  And by funny I mean sad.  This is a 22-year-old kid with a professional career ahead of him and we all want him to be out there as long as his legs work, basically.  Its hard not to feel that way and, at the same time, pretty sh-tty that we do.  I'm glad the trainers don't think like us!


October 29th, 2012 at 10:45 AM ^

"Put him in Coach!" are the same ones who made fun of Dantonio for putting guys in who seemed injured. 

It's sad that in maybe the most important game of the year our best player couldn't play most of it.  I wouldn't want to risk serious injury for him just to win it though.


October 29th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

Steve Slaton vs. Louisville, 2006. When your quarterback can't field a snap and your opponent is picking them up and running them into your endzone, that's a lot worse.

Or is that what you meant by an "occasional 'oh no'"? The usual meaning of the phrase was probably out of the question unless he threw it left-handed.


October 29th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

you need both hands to receive the snap, secure the ball and hand it off safely.  Even if he's not passing, Denard playing and risking further problems wouldn't have helped at all.  He doesn't need his hands to run, but he damn well needs them to hold on to the ball. 

And poor Denard.  The criticism he'd get on his first fumble if we hadn't known the nature of his "boo-boo."