Owen Hargreaves has claimed Manchester United prescribed the wrong treatment for his knee condition and reduced him to feeling that he was "made out of glass" before he left the club to rebuild his career at Manchester City.
Hargreaves, whose 57-minute display and goal against Birmingham City in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night hinted that City might have pulled off a masterstroke by signing him, said he had sought medical opinion since leaving Old Trafford which had told him that prolotherapy injections used on his knees were "absolutely" the wrong treatment.
The treatment, which involves injecting glucose into the ligaments to stimulate the growth of new fibres, had "side effects" which made his knee tendons "significantly worse", said Hargreaves, who admitted the course of treatment was embarked upon at a time when he, United and England were desperate to see him back playing.
Hargreaves eventually underwent surgery on his left knee in November 2008 after a scan by Colorado specialist Richard Steadman detected dead tissue. After two months' recovery time, Steadman operated on the right knee the following January.
"They [United's medical staff] said it [prolotherapy treatment] would help and that I wouldn't have any side effects from the injections," Hargreaves said. "That obviously wasn't the case and if I'd known I could have had a reaction like that, I wouldn't have done it. It's my career, I'm in it. I'm trying to get all this information. I'm hearing about tendons and before I didn't know its real function. It was a s**t position to be in."
Asked if he felt he had received medical opinion which confirmed his view that prolotherapy was not the right course of treatment, Hargreaves said: "Absolutely, yes. Absolutely. With my tendon injury, I've had to be a guinea pig for a lot of these treatments. When you're left to try and make something of a difficult situation – basically I wanted to play, everyone wanted me to play so it's not really an option to say 'sit it out and rest for six months'. With hindsight it's a lot easier. Yep, probably the injections I had, I should probably not have had."
But Hargreaves did admit that the course of treatment, which Rio Ferdinand has also undergone as a last resort to resolve persistent and chronic back trouble, was embarked upon at a time when other solutions had failed. After playing for England against the United States at Wembley in May 2008, Hargreaves prepared for an early return to United a week ahead of pre-season to embark on the treatment.
"I received some injections and after that my tendon was never the same," he said. "After the injections, I tried to get back on my feet and they said my tendon was good, but it felt like I was made out of glass. That obviously had a huge impact."
United said last night that they would not be responding to Hargreaves' comments.
The 30-year-old claimed that he had started United's home game with Wolverhampton Wanderers last November despite telling the club's staff that he was carrying muscle injuries. "I started that game with two muscle injuries," Hargreaves said. "I should have never been in that position to start with, but it was difficult. I wanted to play, they wanted me to play."
Hargreaves, who had played one minute of football in the 26 months preceding the Wolves game, admitted he should have been stronger in insisting he was not fit enough. "Yes, but I wanted to play," he said. "I was new and it's hard to come in and say 'I don't want to play'."Reuse content