Celtics’ Hayward says second surgery was a surprise

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says he intends to be ready for the season-opening game.

Boston Celtics small forward Gordon Hayward underwent a procedure on May 31 to remove a plate and screws from his surgically repaired left leg, a surgery that is very rare, according to Hayward. Athletes often suffer injuries and are lucky enough to be able to have surgical treatments, for those of us who are less lucky there are alternatives, such as neck grinding for those with back pains.

Hayward, who fractured his left ankle in the Celtics’ season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17 and missed the entire season, says he was having some pain on the outside of his ankle which forced him to undergo tests.

The tests revealed the pain was blocking Hayward’s progression and that it was the hardware which was causing the issue.

“As most of you probably know, I recently had surgery to remove the plate and screws that were put in my ankle after I broke it in the opener,” Hayward wrote in his latest blog. “It’s not something we were expecting to be a part of this recovery process, but I’m happy to report that I’ll be back out there resuming rehab soon, with my sights set firmly on being back to my usual self for the start of next season.

“I had been progressing really well. I had been doing cuts laterally. I was jumping. I hadn’t done anything that explosive and I wasn’t quite 100 percent with any of it, but I was slowly building up to that. Problem was, I was also still having some pain on the outside of my ankle, kind of where the peroneal tendon is. I had been reporting back daily how I was feeling, and the team that I was working with in Indianapolis—along with the Celtics training staff—had surmised that it could be the hardware they put in during my initial surgery causing some irritation.

“But it was hard for them to say with any certainty, because no one really knows what’s going on, how my body is reacting to the hardware, except for me. And all I knew was that I was experiencing pain, and something didn’t feel right.

“So I called up Dr. Porter, who collaborated on my surgery and who’s advised us throughout this process, just to ask what he thought. I explained to him what was going on, and he said it could be a couple different things, so we should do a test to figure out what it is. He told me that it could just be that my muscles were sore, and it was a strength issue, and I just needed to continue to rehab and have it get stronger, and eventually, it would go away. Or it could be something different. But everyone was on board with wanting to get an answer for me as soon as possible.

“So I flew back to Indianapolis and did what is called a Cybex test. Essentially, they used it to test the strength in both my ankles. The first round that I did the test, my left ankle was significantly weaker than my right. It was approximately 70 percent of the strength of the right ankle. On a test like that, 30 percent is a pretty significant number, so that raised some red flags.

“Then Dr. Porter injected my left ankle with some local anesthetic to numb the area, and I did the same test again. That time, not only was my left 100 percent of the strength of my right, it was actually slightly stronger. That let Dr. Porter know that it was not a strength issue, but a pain issue, and the pain was basically blocking my progression.

“That revelation made it pretty clear that it was the hardware that was causing the issue. According to both doctors, it is something that is very rare. Usually, you don’t have to take out the hardware. I remember when I got the surgery done in the first place, they told me, ‘We are probably not going to have to take out the hardware, but you never know.’

“So we got on a conference call with Dr. Porter, and the doctors and staff in Boston, and collectively decided that we should take the hardware out of my ankle. They said the surgery went really well, and now I just have to let the incision (and my soft tissue in the places where they went in) recover properly. But that is a really easy recovery. And in probably four to six weeks I will be right back to the point where I was before I got the surgery, except for I won’t have that same pain. So while having to go through that was pretty rare, things happen. Now we move on.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in early June that Hayward is “doing great” and all signs point to an early August to mid August fully cleared time frame.

With both Hayward and point guard Kyrie Irving expected to be healthy next season, the Celtics are primed to contend for a championship. Without Irving and Hayward during this year’s postseason, Boston took LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, so one would surmise they will be even more lethal with their two stars back.