With the Welsh 23 named for Euro 2016, and their first game to come on the 11th of June, one story that has everyone intrigued is the naming of Joe Ledley to the roster despite a recently fractured fibula.
The Welsh midfielder suffered the lower leg fracture in a game on the 7th of May and has been focused on recovery for Euros since then. Despite only having 5 weeks between his injury and Wales’ first match – he’s been declared fit brought onto the squad. Now this may seem like a really short turnaround for any injury let alone a bone break – and it is. To give you an idea of how quick of a turnaround this is, let’s briefly dive into a bit on the physiology of bone healing.
What happens after a fracture
Bone healing depends on a number of different factors; your age, general health, diet, where the break was, and how bad the break was. On average, healing of a fracture for your everyday adult takes about 8-10 weeks, 4-6 of which are usually spent in a cast. Initially inflammation takes place at the site, followed by the formation of a callus and then continuous remodelling. Even after the 8-10 weeks, bone remodelling goes on for months to a year at the site – continually changing to the stressors of life eventually leaving no scar or remnant of the earlier break.
As you can imagine, this all takes time. And despite the perfect fracture scenario (no displacement, good blood supply, healthy individual) these processes are still going to take some time as we can only speed up healing so much. So chances are, even though Joe is fit and feeling well, he’ll likely be using some added protection over the area as the fracture is still going through its reparative and remodelling stages. As far as lower leg fractures go though, he was lucky in that the fibula takes on <10% of the force transmitted through the lower leg on weight bearing, is not subject to much shear force, and has a good blood supply. Had it been the fibula’s next door neighbour – the tibia – he may not have been as lucky in his return to fitness. Either way it’s pretty incredible that he’s feeling fit and performing well and we wish him and Wales all the best in the upcoming tournament!