It’s playoff season here in NYC, and although my feelings for the Yankees have not been disguised in this forum, once in a while it’s nice to root root root for the home team, especially since my Red Sox have once again disappointed. Sigh. No sympathy for me, please, we Bostonians are quite used to defeat and disappointment. And once in a while, even the Yankees need some support, now that our star player Derek Jeter is out with a fractured left ankle.
We have discussed this topic before, but it’s always helpful to discuss ankle injuries, ankle sprains, and ankle fractures, as the ankle is the most commonly injured joint in the body. And to clear up any confusion, a fracture is a medical term for a break, so a broken ankle is the same as a fractured ankle.
I am not personally involved in Derek Jeter’s care, although if you are reading this, Derek, tomorrow’s schedule is tight but I think I can squeeze you in. Based on the initial report it sounds like a twisting injury, which is the most common mechanism of injury in ankle fractures. In this type of ankle fracture, the foot is planted on the ground, and the body rotates over the ankle, thereby twisting and fracturing the bone, usually in an oblique pattern in the fibula – or the smaller bone on the outside of the ankle, and a horizontal fracure of the tibia – or the larger bone on the inside of the ankle. Younger patients with strong bones tend to sustain more ankle sprains because the bones are stronger than the ligaments, and as the force is transmitted through the ankle the ligaments tear before the bone breaks. As we get older, the bones lose some of their density, and in a twisting injury, the ligaments remain intact and the bone absorbs the force and then breaks. Ouch.
If this is indeed the injury Derek Jeter sustained, he will likely undergo ankle surgery to realign the bones and hold them together with a metal plate and a series of screws. Typically the bones heal after surgery in 4-6 weeks, although full healing and return to all activity can take 6 months or longer. And as I have said many times, it will heal when it wants to heal and it always takes longer than we want.
The good news here is Derek Jeter should progress to a full recovery from his ankle fracture, and, as a bonus, I think I might even have a surgical spot open for this week. So Derek, if you’re reading this, feel free to make an appointment and I’ll see you in the office.
Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson