Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter Has a Scary-Sounding Injury

The Minnesota Vikings pinned a lot of hope on Danielle Hunter. Many hoped the Pro-Bowl pass rusher consistently averaged 14.5 sacks per season. Hunter does a great job of reading plays. Many believed having both him and Yannick Ngakoue on the team would put the Vikings in a position to win the Super Bowl — something they’ve never done in their nearly 60-years as an NFL team.

Sadly, those hopes came crashing down when the formally young, strong, and healthy Hunter sustained an injury that makes some wonder if he’ll ever play football again.

Danielle Hunter’s scary injury

Back in August, when Danielle Hunter first missed a practice, fans weren’t overly concerned. The coaching staff said he had a tweak that they wanted him to rest. This is a common explanation in pro-sports and often results in the player getting some much need R and R, and coming back stronger than ever.

However, as Hunter continued to miss practices, everyone wondered if the “tweak” was actually a more serious injury, details Fansided. Now, we know it was. It turns out that Danielle Hunter’s injury wasn’t little and it was far more serious than a tweak. The real reason Danielle Hunter was sidelined was a cervical spine disc herniation, reports Pro Football Talk.

What is a cervical spine disc herniation?

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A cervical spine disc herniation is serious, though it’s not an uncommon injury. It’s most commonly diagnosed in men who are between 30 and 50 years old. The injury occurs to one of the six intervertebral discs that make up the cervical spine, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

The diagnosis means that something has happened to the disc’s outer layer, which has resulted in the nucleus pulposus leaking. In many cases, the leak touches a nerve, which results in intense pain. The injury can be the result of age, anatomical changes to the neck, blows to the neck. 

The severity of the herniation impacts the treatment program. Sometimes the issue can be treated by simply resting the neck. At other times all that’s required is physical therapy. Sometimes, surgery combined with physical therapy is needed for a full recovery.

What Danielle Hunter’s injury means in regards to his NFL career

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter
Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

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Both the Vikings organization and Danielle Hunter have been staying quiet about Hunter’s injury, though they did finally acknowledge that it is far more serious than they originally stated. It’s unclear how Hunter sustained the disc herniation or if he also has additional injuries. They did admit that they recently sent Hunter to New York for a second opinion.

According to Vikings coach, Zimmer, Hunter is improving a little bit more each day. Experts who are familiar with this type of injury are skeptical. At least one medical professional, Dr. David Chao, who was once the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers, feels that the fact that Hunter has been sidelined for so long indicates that he likely needs surgery to repair the damaged disc, according to Heavy.

In terms of what the injury means to Hunter’s future as an NFL star, no one has an answer. It’s simply too soon to tell. Everyone seems to agree that he won’t be playing this season. The Vikings appear to be optimistic that he will return for the next season. If he does, it’s impossible to know if he will be the same breathtaking player that he was before the injury. It is a good sign that the Vikings are taking the injury seriously and don’t appear to be trying to rush the young star back to the field before he is 100% healed.

The one thing everyone does agree on is that Hunter is getting excellent medical care and that everyone is hoping that he makes a full recovery.