The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

AFL News: Lisfranc Injury Forces Early Retirement for Ricky Petterd

Posted by on Wednesday, October 28th, 2015


How young is too young for a professional athlete to retire? When Australian Football League star Ricky Petterd announced his retirement at the tender age of 27, it seemed like it had come too soon. While the average professional league player retires at 33, the typical career of an NFL player only spans 3.5 years with retirement at 28. Physically demanding sports like pro football and soccer take a significant toll on the body, so players are fortunate to be paid enough to cash over a short period of time to live comfortably for the rest of their days.

Here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC, we’re sensitive to the desires of top-level athletes to keep playing after injury. We offer all the latest surgical techniques, physical therapy regimens, and non-invasive therapies to help players continue competing until they’re ready to call it a day. However, we don’t mince words. If we feel your future mobility is in jeopardy, we’ll let you know — and then it’s up to you to make the tough decision.

lisfranc injury
Ricky Petterd announces early retirement after lisfranc injury. Image Source:

What Happened to Ricky Petterd?

One may wonder: How bad does a foot injury have to be to put a player into retirement? After all, the Colts linebacker Robert Mathis endured 10 surgeries and is still playing pro football.1 On April 11th 2015, in the Tigers’ Round 2 loss against the Western Bulldogs, Petterd suffered a lisfranc injury, a common type of bone displacement in the mid-foot that occurs during heavy collisions in professional sports.2

He said he had been debating whether this would be his last season or not, and that the most recent setback was “the last straw” for him. “It hasn’t healed as well as we thought it was going to,” he conceded. “I ran for the first time on the weekend, and it pulled up pretty ginger again…The docs and the physios were doing everything right to get it there, but it’s just not going as quick as we thought.”

After nine years of professional soccer, Petterd says he considers himself “very lucky.”

Lisfranc Injury Retirement Not Uncommon Among Pros

As we recently discussed, the prognosis for a lisfranc injury can be scary for players because this type of injury is typically a season-ender with an 11-month average recovery timetable and surgery required in the majority of cases. Yet, one study found that 93% of NFL players were able to return to the game at full strength and continue playing after recovery.

Despite the fact that many players continue their careers after lisfranc injuries, stories of early retirement are not at all uncommon, either. Just this summer, Falcons offensive lineman Mike Johnson retired at age 28 after suffering a lisfranc injury on his left foot in 2011 that was dislocated again in 2013, along with an ankle fracture.3 Another lisfranc injury — this time on the right foot — struck him down in 2014. Though he was a free agent hoping to play with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, Johnson says he looked himself in the mirror and said, “My ankles are swollen. My feet are swollen. I don’t need this.”

Similarly, last year, after a storied 15-year career that included a dozen Pro Bowl appearances, Washington Redskins Defender Champ Bailey announced an end to competition after a 2013 lisfranc injury kept him out for most of year and dashed his hopes of being traded to the New Orleans Saints.4 “Until my last snap, I tried to be the best on the field,” he told the press. “We all get old in this game. I don’t have any regrets about what’s happened or what’s transpired throughout my career — any shortcomings.”5

Support for Lisfranc Injuries in NYC

For athletes who wish to keep playing, the best option for treatment is usually surgery and a year off to make a complete recovery. Physical therapy to reduce stiffness and weakness in the ankle is to be expected as well. Chronic arthritis and residual pain are very common to players who have recovered from lisfranc injuries.6 Complications may include stress fractures, infection, and slow healing or nonunion. Our NYC podiatrists understand the complexities involved with lisfranc injuries and offer the best medical breakthroughs to facilitate short and long-term treatment in NYC. Contact us for details.




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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.