The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NFL News: Will Odell Beckham Jr. Return This Year After Broken Ankle Surgery?

Posted by on Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

We listed New York Giant Odell Beckham Jr’s ankle fracture as one of the worst sports injuries of 2017. His absence was so strongly felt by New Yorkers who had hoped to catch a glimpse of the one-handed catches he was famous for this past season. With 25 receptions, 302 yards, and three touchdowns, he seemed like the team’s answer to building a strong offensive line. Yet, he fell out of play  October 8th during the Giants’ loss to the LA Chargers. The initial report was that he’d be out “at least eight weeks” with a fractured ankle. It’s been more than 40 weeks since the initial injury and he’s still not been to a full practice. Fans are wondering will Odell Beckham Jr. return this year? Insiders say he’s looking good to getting back on track to start in the upcoming season.

will Odell Beckham Jr. return this year
Giants fans are wondering will Odell Beckham Jr. return this year? Insiders say he’s looking good to getting back on track to start in the upcoming season. [Image Source: Unsplash user Adrian Curiel]

NYC Doctors Foresaw OBJ’s Injury

Back in late August, Odell Beckham Jr. took a nasty hit from Cleveland Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun. The opposition hit the wide receiver’s left leg, while his cleat stuck in the turf, causing his leg to crumple beneath him. The diagnosis was an ankle sprain, with no hard damage. However, NYC doctors saw that injury and knew these types of sprains could take anywhere from one to 12 weeks for full rehabilitation—time that most football players aren’t granted. Along with rest, ice, compression, and elevation, strengthening the surrounding torn soft tissues takes time. Despite undergoing “new age” Thera-lase treatment to prompt faster recovery, OBJ still missed more games than he wanted to. Yet, returning too quickly would almost certainly result in re-injury and further setbacks—which is precisely what happened a little over a month later.

About Odell Beckham Jr’s Ankle Injury

The injury occurred during a tackle, where the top half of the receiver’s leg bent backward, while the bottom half folded awkwardly beneath him. Beckham suffered a complete syndesmotic ligament tear (essentially a high ankle sprain), as well as a lower fibula fracture. “With the external rotation force, the two upper ankle bones are pried apart and the continued force breaks the outer smaller bone,” explained The San Diego TribuneThe fibula bears roughly one-sixth of the body’s weight, compared to the tibia—which bears nearly all—so it’s a less painful injury than a tibia fracture, but the level of surrounding soft tissue damage can cause greater pain issues that complicate the recovery.

This type of injury also damages the deltoid ligament, which is connected to the medial malleolus (the inner ankle “bump”). Upper fibula injuries are generally less severe. Upper fibula fractures may be allowed to heal on their own, but lower fractures near the ankle are almost always repaired using internal fixation. The fibula fracture and the medial malleolus need to be fixed with hardware like screws and plates that are permanently positioned inside the body, provided that they do not cause lingering pain. Post-traumatic arthritis is another concern following ankle fracture recovery.

Patients like OBJ are advised to use crutches and avoid weight bearing until the bone heals in approximately six to eight weeks. Recovery is slow, starting with minimal weight placed on the injured ankle. Gentle therapeutic exercises help enhance blood flow to aid in tissue healing. Water exercises are among the first “real” activities allowed. Weeks 10-12 involve protected weight bearing with, elliptical trainers, rowing, and yoga allowed. From there, it’s likely another month to fully rehabilitate.

Other players like Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Thomas Rawls, and Darren Sproles have bounced back from similar injuries.

Will Odell Beckham Jr Return This Year From Ankle Fracture Surgery?

The 25-year-old, $20-million-dollar player didn’t disappoint in the first day of off-season training camp. Tom Rock of Newsday Sports filmed several drills, showing solid footwork. Still, he is not able to compete in all the drills following his ankle surgery, and he has not received medical clearance to participate in high-impact exercises or team practices. Giants head coach Pat Shurmur told ESPN: “Looks good. He’s out here moving around. He’s chomping at the bit, wanting to get out and do more than we’re allowing him to at this point. We’re just trying to make sure everything is healed to the fullest before we put him out there. He can’t fully compete yet, [but] he gets a chance to see it. And there is a lot to be learned by watching. It’s good to have him here.”

Ankle Injury Treatment in NYC

If you have recently sustained an ankle fracture in the NYC metro, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. We work with every level of athlete, from youth sports up through professionals and Olympians. We offer state-of-the-art therapies you won’t find elsewhere, along with the old mainstays of sports medicine rehabilitation. If surgery is necessary, our board-certified team is unrivaled in their skill, knowledge, experience, and professionalism. We accept all major forms of insurance, no referral necessary.

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.