MLB loses two key players to injury.

Atlanta Braves pitcher, Kris Medlen,  has been diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.  Medlen, 24, was  forced to leave the game in the fifth inning of Wednesday night’s 8-3 win over the Mets when he complained of tightness in his right forearm and elbow. He is scheduled for a MRI today to determine the extent of the injury. If the tear is small, Medlen may have to rest the elbow for several weeks before resuming the season. If the injury is more severe, then Medlen may undergo what is called a Tommy John procedure, which would put him out of play next season as well. Currently he is on the 15 day DL.

The elbow is a joint where three bones come together. Your upper arm contains one long bone called the humerus and your lower arm contains two long bones called the radius and the ulna. The pointy tip of your elbow is actually part of the ulna and this part is called the olecranon. The close part of the radius bone that makes up part of the elbow joint is called the radial head. Three ligaments (sturdy connective tissue bands) help hold the bones together :  the ulnar collateral ligament, radial collateral ligament, and annular ligament. The ulnar collateral ligament ( UCL) is a thick triangular band consisting of two portions, an anterior and posterior united by a thinner intermediate portion.

What is a Tommy John Procedure?

A Tommy John procedure is a surgical procedure named after the LA Dodgers pitcher who first underwent the procedure in 1974. It is used to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The procedure is common among collegiate and professional athletes in several sports, most notably baseball. In the procedure, the torn UCL is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body (most often from the forearm, hamstring, knee, or foot of the patient). Based on long-term studies of athletes over the years, the chances of a complete recovery after surgery are estimated at 85 to 90 percent. Rehabilitation to return to a level of playing equal to before the injury takes about a year for pitchers and about six months for position players.

Meanwhile, Boston Red Sox fans are mourning the loss of first base favorite Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis is scheduled to undergo surgery tomorrow in Cleveland to repair a torn abductor muscle in his right thumb. After the surgery, he is expected to have his hand immobilized for six weeks, essentially ending his season. Team manager Terry Francona told the Boston Globe : “I think Youkilis was pretty resolved to the fact this was probably what was going to happen. It was pretty consistent what [the doctors] were telling him. He had an idea of what was going to happen.”

The thenar eminence refers to the group of muscles on the palm of the human hand at the base of the thumb.

The following three muscles are considered part of the thenar eminence:

  • Abductor pollicis brevis abducts the thumb.This means it moves the thumb outward from the hand, in the same plane as the hand.
  • Flexor pollicis brevis, which lies next to the abductor, will flex (bend) the thumb, curling it up in the palm.
  • Opponens pollicis lies under the abductor pollicis brevis. As its name suggests it opposes the thumb, bringing it against the fingers. This is a very important movement, critical for hand dexterity.
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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