By Dr. Neil Minkoff
Special to CSNNE.com
Im sure youve seen it. Rajon Rondo crashed to the floor with D-Wade and his elbow gave way. Then his arm was hanging at the wrong angle. I used to be an ER doc at one point, and even I winced looking at Rondos arm. Then, he stole a play from Pierce and came back, firing up the crowd.
Today, I saw a ton of articles about how that showed us a lot about Rondos heart guts. Im here to tell you what it means about Rondos elbow.
The elbow is a weird joint. Your shoulder and hip are ball-in-socket joints and they turn all 360 degrees. Your knee is a hinge joint that only moves in one narrow way moving your lower leg front and back. The elbow does both, though. Its a hinge that opens and closes, but it also rotates almost all the way around.
The two bones in your forearm (the ulna and radius) make an incomplete socket for the bone in your upper arm (the humerus) to rotate. That socket is incomplete and held together with a web of ligaments. Its pretty unstable in kids, where partial dislocations happen all the time. Its called Nursemaids Elbow. It happens when you pull a child by one hand or swing a young child around by the arms and the smaller of the two bones in the forearm slides out of place. Happened to my own son one time, playing at Grandmas house. Luckily, I knew what to do and gently moved his forearm until the bone slid back into place.
Full elbow dislocations in adults are pretty uncommon. They tend to happen in car crashes the person puts a hand up against the dashboard to brace for the crash and the impact jams the bones out of place. The other way to dislocate your elbow is to fall, landing on your outstretched palm, while turning, which is exactly how Rondo fell. Other forms of trauma can lead to more complicated injuries, but thats not important to this story.
Typical treatment for a full elbow dislocation involves sedating the patient and rotating the bone back into place in the joint. Then, motion of the elbow is restricted and the patient wears a splint andor sling for 3 weeks or so. Then physical therapy may be done if any range of motion has been lost. Clearly, none of this happened during the game, which makes me believe the dislocation was partial and slid back easily.
The Celtics said Rondo's elbow was swollen and painful but he got an MRI today and the results came back negative.
How Rondo does will depend on the level of damage done to the ligaments. We know the bones are back in place. The MRI and an exam told the team how far his ligaments stretched. If theyre severely strained, theyll have to shut him down. If the ligaments just make his elbow feel funny and loose, hell be able to play. Well find out Monday night.
My bet is that he plays and plays well.