The injury sustained Friday by Paul George, player for the Indiana Pacers and USA basketball, was a gruesome one, bringing to mind the horrific injury suffered last year by Kevin Ware. WARNING: the footage is very graphic. He sustained an open (aka compound) tibia and fibula fracture, which means both of the bones in his lower leg were involved. This is actually a fairly common injury, though we see them more commonly in higher energy injuries like motor vehicle accidents.
The initial concern is infection and that is why it is of utmost importance to have urgent surgery shortly after this type of injury to clean the ends of the bones to minimize this risk. The tibia is stabilized with a titanium intramedullary rod aka nail and the fracture can take 9-12 months to heal. The fibula heals without any need for hardware in the vast majority of cases.
Hopefully, George doesn’t have any setbacks and will have a quick recovery. We certainly wish him the best.
Dr. Christian Balldin is an orthopedic surgeon, fellowship trained in sports medicine, with The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group. He treats patients aged 3 years and up for any sports-related injury as well as conditions of the shoulder, hip, and knee. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Balldin, please call 210.281.9595.