Noah has successful surgery on his right thumb


Dec 16

Bulls center Joakim Noah had successful surgery to repair a torn ulna collateral ligament in his right thumb on Thursday morning. The surgery was performed by Dr. Mark Cohen and Dr. John Fernandez of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center.

Noah will have a follow up visit with the doctors on Monday, at which point he’ll likely be given the green light to begin cardiovascular activity. Noah will likely wear a cast, said Head Athletic Trainer Fred Tedeschi, something that the team will have a better feel for after Noah’s Monday appointment.

“First and foremost, you feel bad for Joakim,” said Bulls General Manager Gar Forman at the Berto Center. “He put so much into preparation for this season. Our feeling was he was playing at an All-Star level and had a real shot to make the All-Star team.”

Tedeschi called it a similar injury to the one former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich suffered during the 2008-09 season, but added that “the next eight or ten weeks will tell us how similar they are.”

Hinrich missed approximately nine weeks and 31 games, and Tedeschi is hopeful the timeframe for Noah will be similar.

“You’ve got to let the ligament heal,” said Tedeschi. “The biology is the biology. Hopefully it will follow a good course and somewhere in that eight to ten week range, we’ll get him back on the court.”

Noah was first injured in the Nov. 27 game at Sacramento, and he has played the last two weeks with ongoing discomfort and slight functional impairment.

“We did research,” said Forman. “He couldn’t hurt it any worse. He was still playing and still productive. So we took our time and looked at our options if we waited. Then it was all our decision that the right thing to do was to get it done now.”

“I think this speaks a lot to Joakim’s character,” Tedeschi remarked, referring to the fact that Noah endured through the pain for nearly three weeks. “Every one of these I’ve dealt with—either through pain or instability—they’ve never been able to play. Surgery was immediately called in.

“Joakim was able to function at a high level, which is very, very, very unusual for these injuries,” said Tedeschi.

General Manager Gar Forman agreed, saying, “It really is amazing and a testament to him that he was able to play through this. Obviously, Joakim is a warrior. The beauty about Joakim is that he’s all about winning games and competing. We saw that the last couple weeks. But at the end of the day, we were all on the same page that he had to have this done.”

Noah also had significant sprains of his right index and middle fingers, which will not require surgery. Tedeschi said that PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections were done on both sprains to help the healing, but that the team did not expect them to be issues moving forward.

Forman acknowledged losing Noah was “a blow” in the short term.

“Carlos [Boozer] was just getting back into the mix and they were getting used to playing with each other,” said Forman. “But we’ll get that back.”

Forman also expressed optimism that Noah would return with sufficient time before the postseason to re-acquire the chemistry.

“We’ll have him probably for a solid four to six weeks heading into the playoffs,” he said, adding that Noah’s situation is similar to Boozer’s injury that sidelined him for the first two months of the season in that he’ll be able to maintain his conditioning. “When it comes back, [the transition] should be pretty seamless.”

Until then, the Bulls are not likely to make any moves right away.

“We’ll continue to look at it,” said Forman. “We’ve already talked about looking into a trade or picking someone up. But at this point, we’ll go with what we have. We do think we have some depth. Taj [Gibson] has stepped in in the past and done a very good job. It’s an opportunity for guys.”

Besides Gibson, Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas will be counted upon to embrace greater roles with Noah on the sideline. It’s a scenario Thomas is familiar with, as he replaced the injured Andrew Bogut in Milwaukee towards the end of last season.

Audio—Bulls Head Athletic Trainer Fred Tedeschi on Noah (12.16.10):

Audio—Bulls General Manager Gar Forman on Noah (12.16.10):

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