For the New Orleans Saints as a team, Sunday evening’s win over the Carolina Panthers allowed them to advance to the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. But they will be without starting left guard Andrus Peat. He suffered which appeared to be a substantial lower leg injury. It has been reported by many outlets that he suffered a broken fibula. He was initially listed during the game as a shin injury.
X-rays will confirm whether he broke his fibula or not. An MRI will be able to confirm ligamentous and other connective tissue damages. Another concern will be did he damage any of the vascular supply to other muscles and bones. That is something that will be monitored moving forward.
The fibula is the smaller of the two lower leg bones. The fibula does not bear as nearly as much weight as the other lower leg bone, the tibia. The fibula does not articulate with the femur to create the knee joint, but it does articulate with the talus to create part of the ankle joint. The fibula and tibia are held together by a variety of strong ligamentous attachments. That include the anterior and posterior inferior tibiofibular ligament, the interosseus ligament, and the transverse ligament.
The primary function of the fibula acts as a muscle and ligamentous attachment site for muscles of the lower leg and of the foot. Some of the more important structures that the fibula acts as a sight for attachment are the lateral collateral ligament of the knee (LCL), the calcaneofibular ligament of the ankle, and the tibiofibular ligaments of the ankle. The ligaments are important for stability of the knee and the ankle.
What I Could Do?
He’s going to be in a boot for at least six weeks. He’s non weight-bearing for six weeks as well. Rehabilitation and treatment for him will be focused on scar tissue assessment, pain, range of motion of the knee and ankle, strength of the hip, thigh, knee, lower leg, and foot muscles, and finally his ability to return to normal gait and sport appropriate activities.
Like many of the topics I write about, I’m more concerned on what I could do for him initially. Following surgery, the focus of the type of care I can provide him are to assist in range of motion development in the knee and ankle. That will be doing passive stretches and a decent amount of manual muscle work on the muscles and ligaments of the lower leg.
I can further assist in range of motion of the joints via adjustments of the knee and ankle. Many of the exercises will follow the course of treatment similar to that of other ankle injuries, where you work on isometric muscle strength first, followed by non weight-bearing concentric and eccentric strength, then weight-bearing concentric and eccentric strength. Lastly, he’ll be introduced to walking and reeducation of gait. Eventually progressing him to jogging, running, lateral movement and lastly cutting.
He’ll miss the remainder of the playoffs, regardless of how far the Saints advance. It’s not similar to the Terrell Owens situation in Philadelphia when they were making their Super Bowl run. Owens’ broke his fibula 7 weeks prior to the Super Bowl. If the Saints happen to make it to the Super Bowl Peat would only have 4 weeks of recovery. I believe he is out for the rest of the season and will be ready for OTAs in the spring.
Depending on the severity of the fracture and if soft tissue was involved, Peat is likely out at least two to four months. He’ll be likely fully functional in six months and ready for team activities.