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From the sources I spoke with today, I can provide the following information: The Wizards are optimistic that Caron Butler will have a chance to return to basketball activity after an unspecified period of rest (it could be anything from one to three weeks depending on how he feels.) No timetable has been set.

At no point did anyone I spoke with bring up the word "surgery" and Caron in the same sentence. And in talking to people who deal with hip issues, there is a real difference of opinion as to whether surgery is an effective way to repair a labral tear anyway.

-Caron did undergo an MRI after he originally injured the hip in Milwaukee on Jan. 27. That MRI led to the diagnosis of him have a strained hip flexor. You'll remember that he sat out three games, played heavy minutes in the Lakers game on Feb. 3 and then aggravated the hip two days later in Philly. It's possible that he suffered the slight tear that night.

-He underwent another MRI within the last week and that was when it was determined that he had a tear. I have not spoken with Caron but hope to do so soon and Wiz team policy prevents reporters from quoting team medical personnel. Ernie Grunfeld has a policy of not discussing injuries.

According to Dr. Francis O'Connor of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, diagnosing and treating hip injuries are among the most challenging tasks for athletic trainers and doctors who treat athletes.

"Labral tears in the hip are a relatively new diagnosis in the world of sports medicine," Dr. O'Connor said. "The imaging we now have available with an MRI arthrogram has allowed doctors to view detail in the hip area better than ever before. Still, hip pathology can be very complex because of the relatively small amount of blood flow to the area and the many muscles and other structures near the hip joint. The key question when it comes to a labral tear is: is the tear related to the athlete's pain or was it always there? It is one thing to identify it as a labral tear but it is another to determine whether that tear is the source of pain."

More from Dr.O'Connor: "It's not like a torn ACL where you take an MRI and it's just: 'Well, it's torn let's do surgery.' Hips are very different. With a labral tear, surgery is really a crap shoot. Some doctors believe that it is a good option if pain persists but there is a school of thought that rest and physical therapy is the best way for it heal."

I spoke with an athletic trainer from another professional sports team for background purposes and he said that labral tears are poping up more and more frequently (that vibes with what Dr. Connor said about the ability to spot them with improved technology).

The athletic trainer estimated that it's possible that up to half of the players in the NBA and NFL may have some kind of hip issue and not even know it because the problem hasn't been detected. Some athletes are able to play through even a labral tear before ultimately shutting it down.

Today for example, the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Chris Gratton will undergo surgery to repair a left labral tear. He suffered the tear in November and played on it until now but can't go anymore.

That's the information I can provide right now. I know that folks have a lot of questions but it sounds like we are going to have to wait and see how Caron's hip responds to the period for rest and await the results when he is examined again next week.

-FYI: DeShawn Stevenson did not practice today because he had to get a wisdom tooth removed. He's expected to start tomorrow night against the Bulls. Gilbert Arenas is on the trip and was doing some shooting drills with teammates when I walked into the gym this afternoon. He's happy to see Larry Hughes in Chicago and thinks Larry and Ben Gordon have the potential to really click. They did last night.

-Oh and I never had the chance to thank all of the folks who gave me great suggestions for eating out in New Orleans. (no shortage). Problem was, after getting out some Sunday night, I got hit with some kind of nasty bug and have been down for the last few days. Just feeling better tonight and plan on seeing at least some of Chicago which is my one of my top towns.

Take care.

By Ivan Carter  |  February 28, 2008; 7:13 PM ET
 
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