Bulls’ Bobby Portis Plays with Third Degree Burns on Foot

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Image Source: ESPN

This past Saturday, Bulls’ power forward Bobby Portis revealed he’s been playing for the past two months with a third degree burn on his left foot. The incident occurred when the player left a heating pad on too long before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 4th.

After the initial occurrence, Portis stated he didn’t want to risk losing his place in the rotation by disclosing the incident, but he eventually followed up with a specialist that told him the injury could leave him with restrictions for the next 3 to 4 months. Thankfully, no infection developed from the burn, but due to his continuous playing, the area was “bloody and nasty” every time he removed his shoe.

According to Dr. Marc Borovoy, a podiatric physician who treats patients for foot and/or ankle burns, “Third degree burns are full-thickness cutaneous injuries, which means they go through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. If not evaluated and treated appropriately, they can lead to prolonged patient morbidity.”

Common Burn Symptoms:

  • Blisters
  • Lack of pain due to nerve damage
  • Dry, peeling skin
  • White or charred skin
  • Swelling

Treatment Options:

  • Cleaning and removal of dead tissue
  • Antibiotic ointments/creams
  • A warm, humid environment
  • Skin grafting

“We’re able to assess these types of injuries by determining the source of heat and amount of time since the injury,” Dr. Borovoy continues. “Hopefully, he [Portis] sought a professional opinion quickly. Treatment should be started immediately in an effort to relieve pain and prevent further issues from developing.”

Goals of Burn Wound Management:

  • Prevent progression of the wound
  • Avoid infection
  • Promote wound healing

During his season-ending interviews, Portis admitted to playing in the game immediately following the burn, which, given the circumstances, was an extremely risky move to make.

“These types of injuries have the ability to heal within 4-6 weeks, but only if they’re treated appropriately. Portis’ decision to continue playing through the heeling process is not medically advisable, since lower extremity burns affect your ability to bear weight and could have been detrimental to his career.”

In any situation, the goal in severe podiatric injuries, especially burns, is for the patient to be able to maintain foot and ankle function that allows for ambulation. First degree burns are generally not an issue, but severe burns like the one Portis experienced, which involved not only the skin, but the underlying structures like tendons and ligaments, generally require a period of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, since the incident occurred, the player has announced that it “still kind of hurts,” but ultimately, being left with just a minor scar on his foot, was the best possible outcome for him.

If you or someone you know experiences any type of foot or ankle burn, it’s important to have it looked at as soon as possible. Dr. Marc Borovoy and Dr. John Miller are experts in all areas of foot and ankle care, and will be happy to assist you with any problems you may be experiencing. You can request an appointment on our website or feel free to call us at (248)348-5300.

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