OBJ - Understanding the Injury, Surgery and Recovery
Updated: May 10
What Exactly Happened?
In October 2017, Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. sustained a horrific injury. While jumping for a contested ball on a slant route he landed awkwardly resulting in his ankle being turned 90 degrees from its normal position. The confirmed diagnosis was an ankle fracture and ligamentous injury to the interosseous membrane. OBJ underwent surgery to repair the broken bone and stabilize the ankle. This blog post is going to take a step by step approach to understanding the injury, surgery and recovery. Let's start with the ankle fracture.
There are three bones that make up the ankle joint. Those bones are called the fibula which sits laterally, the tibia which sits superior and medially (inside) and the talus that sits inferiorly. There are also several ligaments that help to hold the ankle joint in place. When the talus is forcibly pushed out of the ankle joint it can cause the surrounding bones of the fibula and tibia to become broken. In the case of OBJ, he sustained a fracture of the fibula bone. Remember, this would be in addition to the supporting ligaments that are by default torn during process. An MRI would be helpful to determine the extent of ligament damage as well as if any cartilage damage has occurred. When the tibia or fibula is broken, the surgical repair usually involves a screw fixation to stabilize the fractures. Odell likely underwent a similar fixation to the fibula bone as well as ligament stabilization procedure. The picture below shows both a fracture of the fibula as it occurred in the case of OBJ. You will also see how the screw fixation is performed to stabilize the fracture.
The picture below shows both a fibula fracture and likely injury to the stabilizing ligaments connecting the two bones. which is most consisted with the injury to OBJ. The blue arrow represents the fibula fracture and the the white arrow represents the widening of the ankle joint suggesting instability.
Treatment and Return to Play
OBJ underwent surgery the week of October 10th 2017 to stabilize his ankle and fix his fractured fibula. It appears he was placed on a non weight-bearing status and was transitioned to a walking boot and placed on crutches. Healing of the bone was completed at 3 months and then continued physical therapy. Which takes us today, about 10 months later and OBJ is 100% ready to go, just as he predicted. I do not forsee any residual issues from the surgery and any issues with scar tissue should be well under control with having gone through training camp and preseason.