Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will need surgery in the offseason, but he vows to continue to play even though he’s in a lot of pain. Doctors say Embiid’s thumb injury is common and the surgery to fix it is pretty basic.
Embiid says he’ll find a way to adjust, noting that this is the NBA playoffs and that nothing will stop him.
You can see Embiid grabbing his hand, wincing in pain as he continues to play through the playoffs after his thumb was injured Wednesday during Game 3.
“I think it must have been during those physical battles, pushing each other,” Embiid said. “Maybe I think my hand or my finger must have gotten caught on someone’s shirt. I mean, it’s painful. In basketball, you need to use your hand a lot.”
An MRI on Sunday confirmed Embiid has a torn ligament in his right thumb.
“A ligament is a structure made of collagen that goes from bone to bone,” said Dr. A. Lee Osterman, a surgeon and president of the Philadelphia Hand to Shoulder Center. “It’s what gives your joints stability.”
Osterman is not treating Embiid but says he has a common sports injury.
“It will hurt his effectiveness a bit but not completely,” Osterman said, “and obviously 90% of him is better than no percent of him. Every time he grabs the ball, it hurts. It’s not like it’s a dainty thing. He’s grabbing it and so it hurts a fair amount. And he’s played with a bunch of injuries this year. He’s been a warrior and continues to be this year.”
The question, though, is it safe for Embiid to continue to play?
“Fortunately, you can tape it and splint it as Mr. Embiid is, and that will often give you some protection and stability,” Osterman said.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers says Embiid will continue to play and have surgery to reattach the ligament in the offseason.
“This is an injury which is absolutely recoverable to all the things that he can be, so this is not a career-ending injury,” Osterman said.
Recovery from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament can take four to six weeks.
The 76ers aren’t saying when or where the surgery will take place, only that it will be in the offseason when Embiid will have plenty of time to recover.
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Drs. A. Lee Osterman, Randall Culp, David Zelouf, Mark Rekant, Meredith Osterman, Rick Tosti, Adam Strohl and Matthew Wilson presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Meeting recently held in Chicago. Dr. Meredith Osterman was the program chair for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand / American Association for Hand Surgery Specialty Day.
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