Late last week, Mike Gillis appeared on the Team1040 and revealed that Alex Edler is suffering from a bulging disc in his back. As a result of his injury, Edler remains on the club’s payroll.
This is the second time Edler has dealt with disc issues in the past 24 months. In January of 2011, he collided with Jamie Benn, missed a game against the Predators as a result of back spasms (this was the infamous Lee Sweatt game) and ultimately underwent micro discectomy surgery to correct the issue. Micro discectomy surgery, by the way, is when the doctors literally remove a portion of the bulging disc (basically the "tough cartilage rings" that surround one’s spinal cord).
Following a successful procedure, Edler returned for game one of the playoffs that season and didn’t show any rust as he performed extremely well on the team’s run to the Cup Finals. While Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman have emphasized that they don’t believe this is a long-term concern, bulging discs are a notoriously difficult injury to treat.
Basically you can try strengthening the surrounding musculature and taking anti-inflammatories to calm everything down, and sometimes it works. Often it works, actually. But they recur a lot, and eventually surgery may be the only solution.
Usually you try to avoid surgery as long as possible though because there’s no guarantee it’ll fix any thing. You could end up not fixing the problem. You could damage something in there and make it worse. You could fix it then another disc somewhere else could bulge…
In Edler’s case, he’s had surgery previously and it worked for a while. As Botchford pointed out today, however, Edler dealt with back spasms throughout last season, missed a few practices as a result and even left a game early in December because his back was bothering him again. Again according to Botchford, regarding his current ailment, the team seems to think Edler can avoid going under the knife for a second time.
You can read more about the technical nature of a bulging disc and its application to hockey injuries here.