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Ben Simmons’ back injury explained by sports and orthopedic physical therapist

Sixers, Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers have diagnosed Ben Simmons with nerve impingement in the lower back. The Sixers are expected to re-evaluate Simmons in two weeks.

A lot of people in Philly want to know exactly what Simmons is dealing with at the moment. With that said, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice reached out to board-certified sports and orthopedic physical therapist Roxanne Smith to talk about Simmons’ injury.

Smith explained the nature of Simmons’ injury, emphasizing that the nerve impingement means “there’s a lot of inflammation involved.”

“If you talk about the lumbar spine, you have bones that stack up on each other, vertebrae. In between each level of the bones, you have a pair of nerves that come out on each side, and they go to innervate the lower leg and that type of thing. What happens when you have a nerve impingement is there’s some type of injury where a nerve gets compressed or pinched,” Smith explained.

“Many things can happen and occur to have that type of injury. it could be that he was hit in the back and twisted suddenly, it could be a disc that’s inflamed, it could be many different reasons why that would occur. Short version of the story is when you have something like that, there’s a lot of inflammation involved.”

The local orthopedic therapist also warned that Simmons’ injury could affect his legs and weaken the muscles “associated with the nerve foot.” Moreover, she noted that the treatment for the injury includes decreasing the inflammation and allowing the symptoms to resolve.

The two-week time frame the Sixers gave for Simmons is also a standard when it comes to the type of injury the point-forward suffered, according to Smith.

“The nerve doesn’t like to be pressed on, and if it is pressed on you’ll have a lot of issues, like significant pain that can radiate to your lower leg, you can have weakness in muscles that are associated with that nerve root, you can also have sensation changes in the leg as well, and all those things are telling you the nerve is compressed or pinched,” Smith furthered.

“And so the way you treat that is to decrease the inflammation of the nerve and allow all of those symptoms to resolve, and if you don’t treat that and it ends up getting worse, you can have some type of nerve damage if you try to ignore it. So I think they’re trying to get his symptoms under control and make him pain free as possible, and if there any of those issues or changes, to make sure they’re addressing those to get him back to full function.”

Simmons has appeared in 54 games for the Sixers this season. He’s averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists while shooting 58.5 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and 62.7 percent from the free-throw line.

The Sixers are 36-22 on the season and are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

They have lost in the second round of the playoffs the last two seasons, and head coach Brett Brown could possibly lose his job this summer if Philly falters early in the postseason again. Considering that, the team needs Ben Simmons to be fully healthy come playoff time.