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The Correct Diagnosis is Paramount-Get a Second, Third, or Fourth Opinion if Needed

A recent article highlights the fact that athletes at the highest level often seek multiple evaluations and opinions prior to determining the best course of treatment. Seeking a second opinion may be a great idea for everyone.


While seeking out an experienced shoulder specialist for a shoulder problem is a good start, experience, ability, and options for treatment vary considerably so if the diagnosis doesn’t make sense or is elusive, make the commitment to seek a second, third or even fourth opinion as needed to establish a clear diagnosis before proceeding with surgery.

We still don’t know what the final course of action will be for Orioles 2009 top draft pick Matt Hobgood and his ailing right shoulder. After seeing an Orioles team doctor last night, the 21-year-old pitcher remains shut down and will soon seek a second opinion.

At this point, the Orioles are not recommending surgery for the player the O’s selected with the fifth overall pick in the draft.

The right-hander saw Orioles orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens in Florida last night and is expected to meet with Delaware-based Dr. Craig Morgan, possibly later this week, to get another opinion on what is causing the pain in his shoulder. A specialist in this area, Dr. Morgan has worked with and helped pro pitchers with similar injuries before.

“No one (Dr. Wilckens, etc) knows 100 percent for sure what’s wrong with it at this point, myself included,” Hobgood wrote to me today via text message. “Lots of opinions from multiple people close to me, players, trainers, doctors, coaches and physical therapists. But nothing is concrete yet on why the shoulder is still giving me problems.”

Last year, Hobgood went 0-6 with an ERA of 8.76 between the Gulf Coast League O’s and the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds as he tried to work his way back from the injury. He didn’t get into an affiliated game until June 20 and pitched just 37 innings, allowing 51 hits with 26 walks and 22 strikeouts.

Hobgood also wrote that he had praise for those that are trying to figure out just exactly what is wrong his shoulder.

“All the doctors and trainers who I have seen have done their best to continue to help me get back to being healthy. Everyone involved has done a great job in helping me try to figure out what exactly is wrong. Everyone has been great, especially John Stockstill, in doing whatever it takes to figure out what is best for me going forward,” he wrote.

About a week ago, Hobgood was shut down after feeling soreness when throwing a live batting practice session. He is 4-15 with an ERA of 5.48 over 157 2/3 innings in his O’s minor league career.

No one can project yet whether this latest development will keep Hobgood from missing some, a portion of or all of the 2012 season.

Remember, failed shoulder surgery is far more time consuming, frustrating, and expensive than taking the time to establish the best treatment plan for you personally.

Vivek Agrawal, MD

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