John Sullivan Recovering From Microfracture Surgery


Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan (65) points at a defender against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Vikings won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings Center John Sullivan didn’t miss a single offensive play last year.  That’s hard to believe since the five year veteran sustained a microfracture in his left knee during the season.  He was able to finish the season despite the pain it caused and was still able to compete at a very high level.

Fast forward to the end of January.  That is when Sullivan underwent surgery to repair the microfracture with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida.  The usual healing time and rehabilitation for a surgery like this is approximately three to four months.

Oct 7, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan (65) blocks against the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, Sullivan has stated that his rehab has “progressed smoothly” and that he expects to be ready for training camp.  After being one of the top centers in the NFL during the 2012 campaign, he is confident that his injury will not cause his play to suffer.  As one of the most important pieces of the Vikings offensive line, his play was a big reason Adrian Peterson had such a successful rushing year and a huge reason the Vikings need him to be healthy.

Recovery from operations like the one Sullivan had are very tricky to recover from.  One study on microfracture surgery by Dr. J. Richard Steadman showed a success rate of 75 to 80 percent among patients 45 years of age or younger.  The relatively simple procedure carries with it a very challenging post-operative recovery period.  This usually involves crutches, a brace, and lots of time on a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine depending on the size and location of the area being repaired.  The procedure is so painless that some patients avoid these critically important steps and expose the knee to physical activity before the joint fully heals.

The Vikings need Sullivan to return and play at a high level.  Hopefully, he has been patient with his rehabilitation and has followed doctor’s orders.  If not, the Vikings may be searching for a replacement in the near future.