Jim Leonhard is one lucky football player. The New York Jets’ defensive back suffered a broken tibia last year. His treatment was full surgery with a metal rod inserted into his leg. The injury occurred in December of 2010 and he was cleared to resume football in June 2011. He broke his tibia, one of the two lower leg bones, had surgery and is playing football at full speed less than six months later.
How did this occur? Well, Leonhard is very excited to be back at full strength:
Obviously you get back and meet with the trainers, but I would feel comfortable doing anything at this point. A lot of it has gone on feel because it’s a bone, and it’s hard to determine what the timeline would be. If there’s a lot of soreness, you back off; if it feels good, you push hard. Now I feel like I can push it as hard as I want.
Leonhard is very lucky to be back playing full contact sports that quickly. Remember, he is a professional and was able to avail himself of professional recovery folks, Sports and Spine Clinic.
How long does it take to recover from a broken tibia? It depends on the type of fracture. There are two primary fracture types open and closed where open means the fracture has popped out of the skin. There are also subsets of fractures depending on the position of the break. Assuming a clean break it takes upwards of 8 months for a tibia to heal completely.
How does a broken tibia heal? The body starts by forming blood clots then new blood vessels and finally layering of fibroblasts. This process will take six weeks to begin properly and close to a year to finish.
Does surgery for a broken tibia mean faster recovery? In most cases, yes. Again, it depends on the fracture type, but the insertion of a rod adds strength and framework to the body’s natural rebuilding process. Your doctor is the best resource for determining whether or not surgery will help the healing process. Ensure you understand the pros and cons concerning surgery.