If you haven’t already heard, Lance Armstrong (Astana) suffered a broken clavicle while participating in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon.
Although a relatively common injury, occurring in about 1 in 1000 people per year, what is uncommon (besides the overt news coverage of Armstrong’s injury) is the recommended method of treatment: surgery.
Depending upon the type of clavicular fracture, most are treated conservatively through immobilization using a sling. The injury can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to heal.
But as ESPN.com’s Stephania Bell, a physical therapist who is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, points out, a more aggressive approach to treatment has changed how physicians’ view these injuries.
But over the past decade, there has been a shift toward a more aggressive treatment, according to Dr. Frank Cordasco, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Cordasco, who has treated a number of cyclists ranging from recreational to competitive and is a cyclist himself, reports that the trend toward more aggressive surgical treatment, for athletes in particular, emanated from Europe.
One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2003 examined high-performance athletes with minimally displaced fractures who underwent surgery using titanium nails to address the break. These athletes were able to return to training in an average of six days and to competition within an average of 17 days, far quicker than would be possible without surgery.
So while Lance Armstrong may be in some big time pain, it may not keep him off the bicycle that long. Good news for the Tour and quite possibly the Giro.
In an unrelated bicycle accident, the Today Show’s Matt Lauer also pulled an endo after running into a deer. He is currently recovering from surgery to repair the shoulder he separated.
It might be the first time a deer has witnessed what being “caught in the headlights” actually looks like.