ANAHEIM — Mike Trout’s back condition is rare for a baseball player, but not necessarily a dire sign for his career, according to a Southern California expert.
Dr. Ram Alluri, a spine surgeon with the USC Spine Center, explained on Thursday that a costovertebral dysfunction is not something that requires surgery, and can be resolved in a matter of weeks and maintained with exercises and physical therapy.
“No, I don’t think it’s career-threatening,” said Alluri, who based his opinion on a general knowledge of the condition and not an examination of Trout. “Once the inflammation in the joint goes down, he’ll be able to return to full activity.”
Alluri said he rarely sees this condition in athletes, and when he does it’s more often swimmers or rowers.
Alluri said the condition results from a problem where the rib meets the vertebra, causing inflammation.
“The most common way this is treated is non-operative, rest, Advil and Aleve,” Alluri said. “A big role is physical therapy.”
Alluri said the only long-term issue could be if something in Trout’s hitting or throwing mechanics caused the condition in the first place, in which case it could return.
Trout and Angels head athletic trainer Mike Frostad acknowledged on Wednesday that this will be something that will require attention going forward.
Alluri also said a cortisone injection is a typical treatment. Trout had a cortisone injection last Thursday, and it could be another week before he feels the full benefit of that. The three-time American League MVP has a follow-up appointment on Sunday. He is expecting to get more guidance then as to when he can resume baseball activity.
Trout said on Wednesday that he was feeling better, and he was optimistic about returning this season. That being said, if too many weeks pass, at some point it would not be worth bringing him back in this lost season.
Angels manager Phil Nevin said on Thursday that he’s not concerned.
“He’s going to be fine,” Nevin said. “It’s something he’s just going to have to monitor, just like every other injury throughout your career. He’s going to be good. He feels confident he’ll be back here soon. I trust him when he tells me that.”