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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

In Street Clothes...
By Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert

Ron Artest - SAC [SF]

The Sacramento Kings lost another potential all-star for an extended period on Wednesday when forward Ron Artest had surgery to remove bone chips from his ailing right elbow. Bone chips usually result from a traumatic injury; a fall or a direct blow to an area which breaks off little pieces of bone. Sometimes that trauma causes chronic inflammation, which leads to damaged cartilage, which exposes the ends of bones that are usually protected. Once exposed, the ends of these bones may become chipped over time causing pain, possible "locking" or "catching" at certain points in the range of motion and then decreased flexibility and strength. Once they start causing symptoms like these, surgery is usually the only answer. It's usually arthroscopic and is minimally invasive, meaning the fragments are simply removed. There is no replacement or reconstruction, just removal, so the rehab goes quickly. The first week the focus is to control the swelling and start working on range of motion right away. Once the flexibility is back, the focus shifts to strength, then shooting and playing. It's important to realize this is his shooting arm, so he may need to be a little more cautious than expected, but once he returns, don't expect this injury to slow him down. Three to four weeks is the norm, and that's all it should take.

Michael Redd - MIL [SG,SF]

Michael Redd left Wednesday night's game with a quad contusion, or what a lot of us still call a "Charlie Horse." Anyone who has ever played contact sports, or met the corner of the dining room table, knows what it feels like to get a deep thigh bruise. The pain can be excruciating, along with swelling, redness, and severe loss of function. For athletes the concern with these injuries is having another one to the same area before the first has a chance to heal. This can cause a condition called myositis ossificans which happens when, due to repeated bruising, calcium (bone) begins to form in what should be healthy muscle tissue. This is a defense mechanism for the body to protect the area, but is also severely limiting to an athlete. And how do you prevent a basketball player from getting one of these? You don't. You can pad and protect a quad as much as you want, but if another player's knee, elbow, or whatever hits that spot, you could see him on the shelf for weeks. For that reason, expect Redd and the Bucks to be wary of rushing him back. There hasn't been much said since he left Wednesday's game, but they play again Friday night. Figure he's a game time decision, but don't be surprised if he's out a few.

Tracy McGrady - HOU [SG]

Tracy McGrady has been banged up most of this season. Recently he was being treated for a knee bruise that caused him to miss time on and off for the last few weeks. Initial MRI reports were optimistic, but McGrady continued to have pain and talked about missing up to three weeks. The latest MRI revealed a rare, but troublesome injury to his popliteal muscle. This small muscle is located deep in the knee joint predominantly on the outside of the knee. You can strain it from direct contact to the front of the knee, or from landing awkwardly on a straightened knee. Other times tendonitis can develop over time causing aching pain on the outside back part of the knee. It's mainly responsible for rotating the tibia or the femur, depending on whether or not you're weight bearing, and assisting the other larger muscles of the leg with bending and straightening the knee. I know that's confusing, so the important thing to take from this column, again, is caution. The popliteal muscle is very difficult to treat and rehab because of its location and limited use in major lower extremity movement. Basically it's difficult to stretch, it's difficult to strengthen. As a result, he'll rest. Team officials are saying it's a 3 to 4 week injury. Since he's already been out the better part of the last month, they are optimistic he'll be back soon, but you never know. Figure his activity to be very limited until next week, then he'll test it by running, and finally, playing. If he feels good, he'll play; if not, he'll sit. Time will have to tell.

Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.

Article first appeared on 1/4/08