USA Today's For the Win, "How could John Walls play with fractures in his hand and wrist? A medical expert explains"

Published May 13, 2015
By: Nina Mandell
(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

According to reports, John Wall may suit up against the Hawks on Wednesday night despite having five non-displaced fractures in his hand and wrist. So how in the world would this happen? For The Win spoke to Dr. Subir Jossan, a hand and orthopedic surgeon at The Centers for Advanced Orthopedics.

What can be done to his hand to make it possible to play?

He’ll have to wear a wrist brace or something to keep him from moving his wrist fully. From what’s been reported about what his injury is he’s got some non-displaced or some cracks in his bones so he won’t be able to move his wrist. I haven’t seen his MRI or anything, but I would be surprised if he plays and he certainly will play with something to protect him.

What about the pain? What do they do to make that more bearable?

Well in big joints like knees, it depends on the pressure points, you can get injections and medicines to make you numb while you play. But we don’t normally do that for hand injuries. So the key to pain control is immobilization. So when it’s a wrist, you wear a splint on the wrist so that it doesn’t move. It still hurts but it won’t hurt as much as if you put it at the risk of extreme position.

Could his time on the sideline have helped the fractures heal at all?

No. Fractures, whether it’s displaced verses not-displaced, it takes six weeks to heal.

What are the dangers if he plays?

He could potentially hurt it more. I guess the best analogy is bones are like eggs. So he has a cracked eggshell on a hard-boiled egg. But the shell looks perfectly like it should. He has the risk of cracking the whole shell or breaking the whole shell and then he gets pieces rather than just one egg. That’s the worry.

There’s something called avascular necrosis, which is a long name for the bones die. The little bones in the wrist can die, especially the bones in the center of the wrist have the potential of the wrist to get altered blood supply and collapse a little bit. It’s rare, but it happens sometimes and that’s a devastating problem. And sometimes the [bones] crack and you need to put screws and other things in your wrist to stabilize the bones. You may push the injury into an operative category where right now it’s a non-operative problem.

Can they monitor that throughout the game?

No, not whatsoever. So they do imaging studies afterwards, X-rays and MRI scans after you participate.

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