Watch a Doctor Explain Zion Williamson’s Fractured Ring Finger

Dr. Brian Sutterer is an expert in physical medicine and rehab, and on his YouTube channel, he regularly gives viewers an inside perspective on sports injuries, sharing professional insight on treatment, recovery and career implications when athletes like LeBron James and Tiger Woods get hurt.

In his latest video, Sutterer takes a look at the fractured finger sustained by basketball player Zion Williamson this week, going over the gameplay footage and pinpointing exactly when the injury took place; when the Pelicans power forward went in for a rebound, he jammed his finger up against the ball. “It’s ulnarly deviated, because it’s moving out towards the ulna, and it’s also being bent backwards a little bit,” he says.

It’s unclear from the team’s report which of the three bones in Williamson’s finger is injured, but Sutterer makes an educated guess that it’s likelier to be close to the base of the proximal phalanx (the part of the finger closest to the palm). The location of the fracture, he adds, will determine how the injury is managed; if a fracture is close to the joint, for example, it can be harder to pick up on an X-ray, and can be complicated as it may also affect the cartilege.

“There can be tiny little fracture lines that run through the areas near these joints that honestly, we don’t pick up on X-ray,” he says. “This is why we do more advanced tests, like CT scans, to get more precise detail. So the fact that Zion seemingly had normal X-rays, came back into play, and now has had a CT scan, that does raise some concern for me that it’s near the joint.”

It remains to be seen just how much of an impact this injury will have on the rest of Williamson’s season; Sutterer explains that recovery times for hand and finger fractures can vary wildly, depending on whether or not the patient ends up requiring surgery.

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