For an entire week, Cowboys faithful has been left to wonder whether or not the back issues that limited Dez Bryant in practice this week are a minor concern or something more serious. Today, we receive word that could shed some insight into the situation.
Via Twitter, ESPN's Ed Werder has reported that Dez Bryant received an epidural shot earlier in the week.
Dez Bryant vows to play vs Saints and took an Epidural injection earlier in week for back pain, sources tell me. Great practice after that.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) November 10, 2013
Of course, the controversy the entire week stemmed from a Fox Sports report that the Cowboys were worried about a nerve or disc issue with Bryant, and the Cowboys steadfastly denied that it was as serious as an issue.
However, according to the information I could uncover, there was no mention of treating back spasms with an epidural injection. There were mentions of other injections being used for muscular issues, such as botox, but not epidurals.
Back injections may help treat two major back pain problems: radiculopathy and spinal stenosis. Doctors also use injections for other types of back pain. Sometimes, they also use them to help find out what's causing the pain.
Radiculopathy refers to inflammation or damage to a nerve usually in the neck or the low back. The problem originates where the nerve exits the spine. With radiculopathy, sharp pain shoots from the lower back down into one or both legs or from the neck into the arm. A herniated disc can cause radiculopathy.
With spinal stenosis, the lower spine becomes narrowed. As a result, it compresses the nerves inside. This usually causes pain in the buttock or leg and may or may not be accompanied by back pain. [...]
Epidural means "around the spinal cord." Typically, epidural injections are performed in a doctor's office or the hospital. They're usually given by anesthesiologists, physiatrists, or interventional radiologists with special training.
Before receiving an epidural injection, you will probably undergo an imaging test. This may involve a CT scan or an MRI of the back. The test allows the doctor to identify possible causes of back pain. - WebMD
So that follows the timeline that we are already aware of. Dez Bryant went in for an MRI and now, according to Werder's sources, an epidural shot ensued.
Most observers have spent the season learning that the Cowboys brass have gone the route of never giving full information on injured players. If the tea leaves are correct and an epidural is strictly used for nerve or disc problems, one could look back at the team's "denials" and see the wiggle room used.
- "We're just trying to address one of the issues," coach Jason Garrett said.
- "We don't seem to have any long-term concern about that at all," Garrett said. "
- Vice-president Stephen Jones said Bryant's issue is more muscular than skeletal and there are no concerns about him having a disc problem.
- "I haven't heard anything like that or just close to it," Jerry Jones said of concerns about Bryant having a herniated disc.
The quotes above are from a Star-Telegram report from earlier in the week, the emphasis is mine.
It must be reiterated that we do not have our own source on this information, nor do we have a doctor giving us insight into these matters. But it does appear that if all is as reported, Dez Bryant's back issue does in fact seem to be more than what the Cowboys are letting on.
Bryant has a history of back problems, including last season's "fingertip non-catch" game against the Giants and the 2012 season finale in which he left the stadium in a wheel chair.
Exactly how much of an issue this is moving forward will present itself in games, starting tonight in New Orleans.