Sports Briefs: Tony Parker, Joe Nathan

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker broke his right hand in Saturday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Parker, who is married to Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria Parker, is the second-leading scorer for the Spurs. He broke the 4th metacarpal of his shooting hand, and is expected to be out about 6 weeks. Fortunately, Parker learned today that he will not need surgery to repair the break. According to Spurs coach Greg Popovich, “Everything is by degrees. That would be worse if he needed surgery, so I guess it makes me feel better. They told us they thought it’d be six weeks before he could do anything, so it’s probably four to eight weeks.”

The metacarpals are the bones of the palm, situated between the finger bones (phalanges) and wrist bones (carpal bones). The distal end of the bone forms the knuckles.

Metacarpal fractures can occur with a variety of injuries, such as falls, sports injuries, fist fights or punches, or car accidents. Symptoms of a metacarpal fracture include pain and swelling of the hand. Bruising which may not be seen immediately, frequently develops within a few days of the injury.

Most metacarpal fractures are treated with immobilization, using a cast. Surgery may be indicated if the fracture causes the finger to be shortened or rotated.

The Minnesota Twins announced that closer Joe Nathan has  a “significant tear” to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Nathan, 35, had surgery in October to remove bone spurs in that same elbow.  Saturday, in a game against the Boston Red Sox, Nathan was removed for precautionary reasons after feeling tightness and soreness in that elbow. Initially it hoped that this was the breaking up of scar tissue from the previous surgery, however further evaluation revealed the ligament tear. For now, the treatment will be rest and rehabilitation in the hope that surgery can be avoided.

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is the medial (inside) ligament of the elbow. The UCL is made up of two different bundles, the anterior and posterior bundles, as shown in the picture to the left. It is a primary stabilizer of the elbow,  helping to prevent excess outward stress on the joint.

It is commonly injured with sports activities, especially overhead throwing.

Bone spurs usually occur as a result of a disease or condition — commonly with osteoarthritis. As osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in your joint, your body attempts to repair the loss. Often this means creating new areas of bone along the edges of your existing bones.

Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms, being undetected until an X-ray for another condition reveals the growths. If symptomatic, spurs can cause pain or decreased motion in the joints.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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