A Broken Bone is a ‘Pretty Good Injury to Have’

An orthopedic surgeon says he'd choose a broken leg over a torn ligament any day.

Broken leg image via Shutterstock

Broken leg image via Shutterstock

Given the choice, I’d take a broken leg over a torn ligament.

Viewers of Sunday night’s Louisville versus Duke game know what I mean. Whether you watched the game live or caught the gruesome, viral YouTube clip, you now know what it looks like to break your tibia [also known as the shinbone or shankbone, which is the larger and stronger of the two bones in the leg below the knee].

Sunday night, with a little more than six minutes left in the first half, Louisville guard Kevin Ware jumped to defend a shot. As he landed, his right leg gave way under his body’s weight causing him to collapse with his leg bent in an unnatural way. The medical staff confirmed that Ware fractured his tibia and fibula, and was treated promptly in Indianapolis. He was discharged on Tuesday and returned to campus.

It is terrible to see anyone get hurt, especially when the injured party is a young, vibrant athlete in peak physical condition. Thankfully, Ware’s surgery went well and all indications suggest he’ll make a full recovery. He’s already been cleared to join his team and travel to Atlanta for the Final Four. So with that said, if you had to choose an injury, breaking a bone is a pretty good one to have. It’s a lot better than tearing a ligament (just ask Rondo, Brady, or Welker).

Bone is one of two tissues in the body that heals without leaving a scar. In time, broken bones return to being healthy, normal bones, with no residual weakness, no abnormalities, and no defects. Just bone. For this reason, in considering Kevin Ware’s injury, once the bone heals, his injured leg will be as good as new, and he should return to play without any residual effect.

In contrast, if you were unfortunate and tore a ligament (remembering that ligaments are the connective tissues that hold bones together), your recovery may be much longer, and in the long run, the “new ligament” is different than the original.

The biology behind bone healing is a demonstration of how our bones support us. It is also a reminder of why bone health is as important as any other medical condition (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, etc). Bone is a living tissue. It is constantly growing and remodeling. In fact, the bone you have today is not the same bone you had seven years ago, nor is it the same bone you’ll have in seven years.

The regenerative ability of bone keeps us moving, so be good to your bones.