In his 18th NBA season, Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant suffered another injury to his knee. In a match-up between the LA Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, Bryant twisted, ran into the defender and then fell onto his left knee. It was later confirmed that Bryant had suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left knee.

Colorado knee specialist Robert LaPrade MD, PhD. has dedicated himself to educating others on injuries related to the knee. The tibial plateau is a portion of the tibia (shinbone) that is made of cancellous bone, which is softer than the thicker bone in the lower tibia. A tibial plateau fracture in the knee is a fracture that extends into the knee joint, and depending on the severity of the fracture, separates the bone into many parts.

The fracture can range from only being seen by a MRI scan to a Humpty-Dumpty appearance of several bone pieces which can be almost impossible to put back together. The more complex the fracture, the longer recovery time is required.

Unlike the season ending Achillies tendon tear Bryant had last season, this tibial plateau fracture will require a minimum of 6 weeks to allow the fracture to completely heal so that there is no risk of a re-injury. Dr. LaPrade recommends that in fractures where there is a larger disruption of the bone, the athlete may need to be nonweightbearing for 6 weeks and then will need time to recover from the atrophy of not walking on that extremity prior to returning to activities.

In addition, if there is any significant traumatic arthritis because of damage to the cartilage, some athletes can continue to have problems with pain or swelling with activities that can affect the ability to return back to high-level activities and can affect the length of their athletic career.

To learn more about tibial plateau fractures, please visit Dr. LaPrade’s educational page here.

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