Goodbye week 10 and hello week 11! There were an average of 3 injuries per game last week. Thankfully, this week was a little friendlier to NFL teams. Week 11 by the numbers:
41 = Number of players who missed game time due to injury.
6 = Number of players placed on season-ending IR.
5 = Number of fractures.
3 = Number of injury reaggravations.
One of my favourite stories this week has to be the massive snowstorm that pummeled New York state. The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to host the New York Jets this upcoming Sunday. This should be interesting because the Bills’ home field, Ralph Wilson Stadium, is currently suffocating underneath six feet of snow! How much snow is that? 220 000 tonnes. Wait, how much?! Enough to fill their practice facility eight times. If you think we get blizzards in Edmonton, think again! The Bills are even offering fans $10 per hour and game tickets to help shovel snow out of the stadium! This might not seem very injury related but it is downright hilarious. And although my daytime job is educating you, my night job is entertainer extraordinaire. But to make it up to you, here’s a picture of Kiko Alonso, member of the Buffalo Bills who tore his ACL this summer, using the snow to ice his knee. Yes, he’s pretty much in a snow bath shirtless with his aviators on. Icing like a boss.
Now on to business! This week’s lesson is about fractures! We’ve covered quite a few muscle and ligament injuries thus far but bones have been sitting way in the back of the class, begging to be the next show-and-tell item. Well, bones, it is your time to shine!Of the 5 fractures we witnessed this week, 4 were lower body injuries. Only Ahmad Bradshaw (Indianapolis Colts running back) and Rafael Bush (New Orleans Saints corner back) had media reports identifying which exact bone was damaged. The others remain a mystery… Perhaps down the road we will find out. But for now, we will have to debate if it was Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick smacking a tibia or Mrs. Peacock in the kitchen with a wrench hitting a metatarsal.
Both Bradshaw and Bush broke bones in their big, beefy bodies. (Great alliteration, right?) More specifically, Bradshaw and Bush fractured their fibula. And no, the fibula is not a “interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium, and other ionized gases” (thanks, Wikipedia). That’s a nebula you’re thinking about. The fibula is actually a bone in your lower leg! Do this for fun:
- Put your fingers on the outside of your knee.
- Slide your fingers down the outside of your leg and you’ll land on lumpy bone a couple inches below your joint line. Ta da! This is your fibular head!
- Keep sliding your fingers all the way down the outside of your lower leg and you’ll eventually feel another lumpy bone at the level of your ankle. Ta da! This is your lateral malleolus aka the end of your fibula!
Please note that I do not condone the “let me feel your fibula” pick up line at the bar. That is straight-up creepy. Unless you’re actually trying to teach someone about anatomy. Then feel away!
Back to business! The fibula’s bigger sister is the tibia. There are two bones in your lower leg. Fibula fun fact! The fibula plays a very minor role in weight bearing. That means whenever you stand up, walk around, climb stairs, go for a jog, or twerk, your fibula isn’t stressed all that much. On the other hand, your tibia is bearing a bunch of your body weight whenever you’re upright. So if you ever encounter Professor Plum and he’s wielding lead piping, sacrifice your fibula to save your tibia.
Now, the fibula is quite a long, skinny bone. It can break in many different places – at its proximal end (closer to the knee), along the shaft, or at its distal end (closer to the ankle). And, of course, different fracture sites have different recoveries processes and prognoses. Let’s hone in on fibula fractures that affect the ankle joint.
The pictures to the left are borrowed from the Radiology Assistant. Check out their website to find some more interactive and detailed information on types of ankle fractures. For now, we’ll keep it basic and take a peek at types of distal fibula fractures. From least to most severe (or least to most number of sympathetic hospital lollipops):
- Weber A = Fracture below the ankle joint. You get one lollipop for this break. Sometimes taking a chunk of the lateral malleolus off will require surgery but sometimes immobilization and conservative treatment does the trick as well!
- Weber B = Fracture at the level of the ankle joint. Go ahead and grab two or three lollipops, cowboy or cowgirl. A break at the level of the ankle will lead to some instability at that joint. Often these fractures need surgery to ensure the joint heals back to normal.
- Weber C = Fracture above the ankle joint. The surgeon is patting you on the back and giving you all the red lollipops left in the jar. This type of injury causes the space between the fibula and tibia to widen. This is a big no-no. Those bones need to sit close together to give your ankle stability. Surgery is a must!
There’s no way of telling what specific injury Bradshaw or Bush might have sustained – legally, at least. So far, there have been no reports confirming that surgery will be required for either player. Knock on wood! Hopefully neither fracture is unstable enough to need an operation and they can get started on physio fun times right away!
Bones, unlike ligaments, are great healers. They got an A+ in Tissue Regeneration Studies and were the valedictorian at Healing University. We’ll dive into the bone healing time line on a later date. Who knows, maybe Nate Berkus and Ty Pennington will pay us a visit once again!
For now, we’ll monitor Bradshaw and Bush. Their 2014-15 season might be done but these fibula fractures shouldn’t limit their athletic ability or football skills in the long run. Good luck with rehab and see you next year, boys!
– Chris (4-7)