After 82 regular season games on the court last year, Chris Paul has had a hard time staying on the court in complete health. In fact, one of the few substantial detractions I'd listen to about Paul is that he often gets hurt before the postseason is finished. This has certainly been a theme while he's been a Clipper, and this year it's getting to him sooner than we are used to.
Paul's nagging injuries have included two of the most delicate ones in basketball, groin and hamstring injuries. But Paul's latest injury involves his rib cartilage. Now, we're familiar with cartilage in your knee just by virtue of following Paul's career. Although J.J. Redick is currently out with a sprained ankle, you assuredly know his problems with the cartilage in his back. Just like the cartilage in your knee and in your back accomodate elasticity, so does the cartilage in your ribs.
Breathing is passive but the cartilage we have in our ribs let us adapt easily, even when exercising brings more rapid movements. Inflammation of the rib cartilage is more commonly referred to as costochondritis, with costo = rib, chondr = cartilage, and itis = inflammation.
Causes of costochondritis vary, but Paul likely suffered some trauma in this case. While Paul came out of the Blazers game, the injury has been said to have flared up around Thanksgiving, so tracing the exact origin and what could have set it off again can be a trickier process than just one isolated incident. Any sort of added strain could have worsened the injury. We had not heard about Paul dealing with this injury until the Blazers game, the worry before had been about his groin and his finger.
So the best way to deal with this cartilage inflammation? Just like most sports injuries, good physical therapy, rest, and some pain medication. I tried to find a good video to explain how to treat this, and while this video is a bit long-winded, it's fairly informative not just on treatment but on what costochondritis is.
For those who don't want to sit through the whole video, the basic point is when you get stiff around somewhere like your costochondral joints, the best way to get through it is to try and loosen up the area with exercises that stimulate movement with things like a fulcrum or a tennis ball that gets things going. With this inflammation, you can feel out the tenderness in where exactly you have the inflammation. Simple pain meds like Tylenol and Advil can help with Paul's acute pain, and if things got worse, steroidal injections directly to the area of pain could also quell the inflammation.
Not much is known about how severe this inflammation is but we'll likely know as the days go by. If needed a repeat MRI can be done to monitor the inflammatory changes.. But that Paul participated in a shootaround so soon after the flare up is encouraging. Hopefully we have the right people doing the right things behind the scenes, because it seems like most players outside of iron man DeAndre Jordan have had some nagging injuries all season. However upset we are at Doc Rivers for his maddening rotations, it'd be nice to have a full deck of cards more often.