The thud you heard at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter in Friday night’s blowout victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder was Ronny Turiaf fracturing the radial head of his right elbow. When a missed Jeremy Lamb missed a push shot in the lane and Ronny Turiaf went up for the rebound, Nick Collison came crashing in to keep the possession for OKC alive. Unfortunately, he crashed Turiaf more than he crashed the offensive glass and it resulted in a tough injury for the Wolves’ backup center.
Here’s the statement from the team regarding the injury:
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Ronny Turiaf underwent a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) this morning at TRIA Orthopedics in Bloomington, Minn. that revealed a radial head fracture of the right elbow. Turiaf will be re-evaluated later this week to determine an approximate time table for a return to the court.
It’s just a completely unfortunate injury for Turiaf. Some fans wondered on Twitter if they thought it was a dirty play by Collison or a flagrant foul. I don’t think it was either; it was just one of those freak accidents on a play that happens dozens of times during any given NBA game. While it may have been a bit reckless as a play, we’ve seen Kevin Love, Dante Cunningham, and Derrick Williams come crashing in on the boards dozens of times and it doesn’t result in such a tough injury. Hopefully, Wolves fans or anybody won’t hold that against Collison.
As for Turiaf, he’s going to be out a little while. The reevaluation later this week will probably be to determine whether or not he needs surgery to fix the problem. While looking up radial head fractures, I came across this excerpt on treatment of such an injury:
Many radial head fractures are simple cracks that do not displace and do not require surgery. The more fragments, and the more displaced the fragments are, the more likely some type of surgery will be required because the fracture fragments get in the way of the motion of the elbow joint. There is not a great deal of force transferred across the part of the elbow joint between the radial head and the capitellum. Most of the force is transferred from the ulna to the distal humerus as we use our arm and hand. This means that even though the radial head is part of the joint surface, it does not need to be repaired as exact as the articular surface of a weight-bearing, or force-bearing joint.
Radial head fractures can be treated without surgery if the fragments are minimally displaced, meaning that the fragments remain in close connection and do not block movement of the elbow. If your surgeon decides that the fracture can be treated without surgery, a splint is usually applied for the first 1one or two weeks. Unlike a cast, a soft, bulky splint allows for changes in the amount of swelling over the first few days or weeks. If your surgeon thinks that the fracture pattern is stable, meaning that there is little chance that the fragments will move, you may be allowed to begin using the arm within a few days.
After the swelling has subsided, a long arm cast or fracture brace is usually recommended. The cast or fracture brace will remain in place until the fracture shows signs of healing. This usually occurs at six or eight weeks.
X-rays are normally taken after one or two weeks to make sure that the fracture fragments are not separating and again several times throughout the treatment period to assess whether the fracture is healing. Once your surgeon thinks that the fracture has healed, the cast or fracture brace are discontinued and you will work with a physical therapist to regain the motion and strength in the arm.
Six to eight weeks wouldn’t be that bad, considering how hard the fall seemed and how much pain Turiaf seemed to be in. When he was walking back to the bench and talking to trainer Gregg Farnam, I saw him mouth that he thought it was broken. He was hanging his arm like Mel Gibson in the “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise whenever he had to dislocate his shoulder after a bad fall or when he had to escape from a straight jacket under water. If the reevaluation shows Ronny needs surgery, then that would obviously affect his timetable.
For now, Gorgui Dieng will most likely receive a lot of Turiaf’s minutes. Ronny played 16 minutes in the first game, which would probably be a good guess of how many minutes to expect from those guys. Rick Adelman could also go with Love moonlighting at the center position and putting Derrick Williams or Dante Cunningham (most likely Dante) next to him at the 4. As of right now, the Wolves are deep enough inside to weather this injury. Hopefully, Ronny will heal up soon and be ready to provide some defense off the bench.