Why do doctors bother with sports?

Over the years, we’ve witnessed numerous medical disagreements with our sports team doctors and players here in St. Louis. Whether it was Brenda Warner’s suggestion that she, not Mike Martz, had husband Kurt get an x-ray on his broken finger, or Chris Pronger leaving the ranch to have hand surgery in Baltimore, or Ray Lankford surprising the Cardinals with knee surgery during the off-season before spring training in ‘99, there have always been sports injury controversies.

But the disputes we’ve seen here in St. Louis pale in comparison to the Noah Lowry/Giants situation. Lowry, a lefthander, hasn’t pitched since August of 2007. He has undergone several surgeries, including one to decompress a nerve and another on his pitching elbow.

Yesterday, after a new diagnosis from a doctor of his choosing, Lowry had a rib removed. He hopes to be ready for 2009, but his agent isn’t happy. Damon Lapa said “Regardless of how many doctors he saw in the organization, none of them was able to diagnose the root of the problem. They tried a variety of treatments with no symptomatic relief and left Noah in a situation where he’s worked himself into the best shape of his life and he still had symptoms and pain.”

“It’s a happy day in the sense that we’re excited the cause has been found. Noah has been working diligently, and he’s been frustrated for the past 12 months or so of, without a clear cause or diagnosis, not knowing why he’s not able to do what he enjoys. There’s nothing worse than robbing a guy of what he loves to do.”

For their part, the Giants defended their medical practices. Team doctors have general practices. Working for the team isn’t their only job.

If I was a Doctor, and my name was in the paper and on radio and TV regarding the mistakes I had allegedly made, I’d second-guess my decision to serve the team. When an agent says you misdiagnosed the problem, the public perception is going to be that you’re a hack. Because of federal laws, you can’t defend yourself against that assumption.

I would think having that job is more trouble than it is worth.