Eagle McMahon’s Red-Light Experience
On Sunday April 27, 2022, during the final round of the Jonesboro Open, Eagle McMahon made headlines by walking off the course after hole six. Initial reports from the booth were uncertain at the time. Shortly after leaving the course Eagle McMahon posted a story on Instagram. He said that during a forehand throw on the hole his shoulder popped out again. He followed up the story with a lengthy post that you can read below. I will highlight a few key parts that jump out to my sports medicine brain.
First, before getting into anything he wrote on Instagram I want to point out that Eagle McMahon has been quiet on social media. Noticeably quiet. While he was never a daily poster on the platform, he averaged at least a post every other day or every third day. He’d have stretches of posting four of five days in a row then nothing for a week. Since his injury and re-injury his posts and vlogs have dropped off a cliff. I hope that McMahon is doing alright mentally. This is a huge hurdle early in what is shaping up to be a prolific career. I hope that he has a solid support group to help him through a challenging time.
Moving on to his Instagram post in the second paragraph he says, “My plan was to play three events plus a skins match before taking May completely off for a treatment I have planned.” Referring to my previous article ‘McMahon’s Labrum Tear & Upcoming MRI’ McMahon talks about stem cell therapy as an option for treatment. I talked about PRP (Plasma Rich Platelet) therapy, the medical term for the procedure, and how the studies are mixed to slightly positive at best. Several of the articles mention treatment times of 4 to 12 weeks typically combined with physical therapy. This lines up with McMahons statement, “…taking May completely off….”
That was the original plan before the second subluxation at Jonesboro. Towards the end of the post he says, “I will now spend as much time as I need to get my shoulder back and feel confident and strong in myself again. … I don’t know when my next event is, but I do know that the next event I play is the one I’ll be throwing ripped sidearms….” This suggests, to me at least, that he is open to other treatments if this PRP therapy doesn’t work like he is hoping.
He did post a story on April 27th, that has made me a little nervous. It was a picture of him shirtless in a red-light therapy booth. All red-light district jokes aside, I hope this isn’t the full treatment he was talking about. The glimmer of hope I see from this is the fact that he posted this in April and specifically said that his treatment plan starts in May. There isn’t a lot of good research into photobiomodulation therapy, but from what I gather there is no downside. The theory is that the light will help with the oxygen uptake in the cells and this aids in recovery. In my practice, I’m fine with treatments that work between the ears. If the athlete thinks it works, then it works. I’m not fine with this being the sole treatment for a significant injury. Like PRP, photobiomodulation is an adjunct to the treatment plan not the treatment plan.
Before I end this article, I want to add a short segue. Some have asked why I’m, “obsessed with Eagle McMahon/this injury/this story?” McMahon is one of the top talents in disc golf. This injury, along with Simon Lizotte’s elbow injury, also highlights the shortcomings of sports medicine, and more broadly healthcare, for the pros on tour. In other sports you often here the commentators talk about Aaron Rodgers’s knee injury or Tiger Woods’s back injury; what’s happening here is disc golf assimilating into the mainstream of sports. For those who want to grow the sport, and have it accepted by the broader sports audience, this is a normal progression. Expect as disc golf continues to grow, especially at the pro level, for more outlets to pay attention and report on injuries of the pros.
In conclusion, I hope that Eagle McMahon receives proper medical treatment for this injury. If necessary, take the rest of the 2022 season off and comeback with vengeance in 2023. He has the potential for a long, prolific career. I’d hate to see something like this shoulder injury prevent him from reaching the top and setting a new standard of competition. I’ll continue to follow this story and update everyone as we learn more information.