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Watch: Orthopedic Doctor Says Joel Embiid's Thumb Injury Is 'Common,' Often Called 'Skier's Thumb'

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- You could say Sixers fans are squirming a bit following two straight losses to the Toronto Raptors after leading the series 3-0. Sixers All-Star MVP candidate Joel Embiid is playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb.

It's reported that Embiid will undergo surgery to repair the injury, but not until after the Sixers' season is over.

Director of Sports Medicine for Jefferson 3B Othropedics Dr. Arthur Bartolozzi joined Eyewitness News This Morning to discuss Embiid's injury.

Arthur Bartolozzi
Credit: CBS3

Q: Could you tell us a little about the injury?

Dr. Bartolozzi: It is a common injury, specifically in sports like basketball, baseball where you fall on your outstretched hand. In Basketball it's common to have a finger injury as your hand is stuck on the rim or being blocked by another player or in Joel Embiid's situation, he does fall on the hardwood a lot. So common injury. 

Q: He's promised to play through the pain, but how difficult is that for a basketball player who is obviously using his hands the whole game?

Dr. Bartolozzi: These injuries can be very painful. Also, every time you shoot the ball, you're holding the ball in your thumb. It ends up being a very important part of the balancing of the ball. So if the thumb is painful, or tightly strapped, or somebody strains it, it may make it difficult to feel comfort on the basketball. I have a little prop I can show you the nature of the injury. *Brings hand prop into video* So if this is a hand, that's my hand here. This is the thumb. When you fall on your outstretched hand, you can easily sprain that ligament. If you see that red, it's very easy to fall and tear that ligament just like that. It's a common injury, in fact, it's often called skier's thumb, the ski pole gets caught around the thumb and pulls it backward. 

ortho hand prop
Credit: CBS3

Q: Embiid is saying that he is dedicated to continuing playing through the remainder of the season, could he potentially further his injury by playing? 

Dr. Bartolozzi: Probably, it's a rough game, so always a chance for reinjury. He can play with that, he has a restraint on it and at the end of the season if needed, it can be fixed. If it's fixed during the season, it takes a minimum of three to six weeks in that range to get back to playing and then with a stiff, sore finger. So there is no advantage to fixing it now, easy to fix at a later time if needed.


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