Now that we got that out of the way, my experience interning for the athletic training staff of a D1 program has led me to witness a few patient, doctor interactions that had nothing to do with my own body. This may help people understand the thinking that goes on behind the scenes in the training room with injuries that need to be managed.
The human body has a miraculous way of accommodating for minor injuries suffered anywhere on its anatomy. Have a degenerative joint issue? You can rehab the surrounding muscles to strengthen the entire joint and take the percussive stress from jumping, running, etc. and distribute it along the musculature instead of the bone mass.
|Seth Rosenthal: stop cowering in fear! It's just a diagram.|
This is where things get tricky. No two human bodies are exactly the same. A chronic tear in my medial meniscus may have no pain when I run, jump, cut, or anything of that sort. In addition, many people have what are called Osteochondral Defects, or OCD’s. This literally means a hole, bump, or imperfection to the bone surface that that person may never feel pain from. They can perform athletically at an elite level, live without arthritis, and never think twice about it for the rest of their life.
Bringing us back to the doctoral side of things, any appearance of defect muscularly, in the bone, or any cartilaginous structure would require said doctor to recommend the proper treatment. By not doing so, the doctor would be liable for lawsuit if the player decided that the doctor should have forced a procedure or treatment against the player’s best wishes, and the player gets hurt further.
|"Damn, Melo! Already wearing a headband? What is a trainer to do now?!?!"|
Still with me? Good. So we know Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are high class athletes with a long history of pounding their knees and other joints around on a basketball court. Who knows what will show up if they get an MRI on their knees? It could be something that has to do with the problem, or it could simply be irritation from a bone bruise, or anything else. However, if they gets an MRI and ANYTHING shows up out of the ordinary, the doctor has a legal obligation to tell the patient/athlete and that holds some ramifications ethically as well.
|"Knee Solidarity, BRO"|
Tyson Chandler had a problem with this in his voided trade from Charlotte to OKC with his toe. While there is cartilage damage (ASSUMPTION!!!!), he is able to play with no ill effects even though most players would not be able to adjust to the physical pain from that damage. Many years later, Chandler is rockin’ out with no ill effects from the toe.
So in the end here, if the doctors and trainers are able to perform manual tests on the athlete to ensure no ligamentous, cartilaginous, or immediate bone damage, then if the athlete declines MRI, there is nothing they can do to force the athlete to get an MRI. Further, by forcing an MRI, they might uncover a problem that is not actually a problem at the current moment that will force a star player to sit out for a reason that is not even related to their current injury.