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Podiatry in Sports: Nets’ Hollis-Jefferson fractures posterior talus

Brooklyn Nets rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is expected to miss the next eight to 10 weeks after undergoing surgery Wednesday morning to repair a fracture to the posterior talus in his right ankle.

“I was stunned, I was shocked. It’s hurtful to be in that situation,” Hollis-Jefferson said Monday, according to’s Mike Mazzeo. “Trying to be one of the best rookies, working really hard and then you get news like that, you don’t really know what to say. You’re at a loss for words.”

In 19 games (14 starts) this season, the first-year forward has averaged 5.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 22.1 minutes per game while also emerging as one of the team’s more reliable defenders.

“[My reaction] was disappointment,’’ Nets head coach Lionel Hollins said, according to Brian Lews of the New York Post. “He was coming on, gaining experience and it hurts us from what he provided for us on the team. But just for his development to sit out 10 weeks and not be engaged and we’ll be that much further along when he comes back, the season will be that much further along and he has to get engaged again and get caught up, so it’s disappointing.’’

A fracture of the posterior process of the talus is rare and is often misdiagnosed as ankle sprain. It is most often caused by forceful plantar flexion of the ankle producing unnatural compression – sometimes referred to as the “nutcracker effect” — between the posterior tibial plafond and the calcaneum, or by a twisting injury that subluxes the subtalar joint or avulses the attached ligaments.

At Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, has seen similar injuries of the posterior talus throughout his tenure in medicine, giving him insight into what exactly Hollis-Jefferson’s situation based on the information currently available.

“When your weight is transferred from heel strike to toe-off, part of that force goes through the talus,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “There’s a lot of weight that is place on that area, so any fracture can become unstable.”

Once the talus is fractured, pain is usually felt at the front of the ankle although symptoms may be felt in the sides or back of the ankle. In many cases, there is also swelling, bruising and pain when the affected region is touching touched. This pain may also increase during certain movements of the foot or ankle or when standing or walking (particularly up hills or on uneven surfaces) or when attempting to stand or walk.”

“A fractured talus has a tendency to move,” said Dr. Godlbaum. “There are a bunch of tendons, known as the deltoid ligament, which keeps the area stable. If the talus is broken, however, the ligament no longer holds the bone in place and the area becomes unstable.”

For this reason, Hollis-Jefferon needed a surgical re-alignment of the fracture by careful by utilizing internal fixation to stabilize the fracture. According to multiple reports, two screws were needed to stabilize the area during his recent surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

After spending several weeks keeping the area immobilized and in a cast while also possibly undergoing a variety of treatments such as bone stimulation therapy,  Hollis-Jefferson will then work on regaining his range of motion, performing pain-free flexibility, strengthening and balance exercises as part of his rehabilitation. This is particularly important, as balance, soft tissue flexibility and strength are quickly lost with inactivity.

For some perspective, former Cleveland Cavaliers swingman Matt Harpring underwent surgery to remove a fractured posterior talar process from his left ankle on January 11, 2001. He was placed on the injured list on January 22 and went on to miss 25 games.

With that in mind, and based on the information currently available, Dr. Goldbaum believes that the team’s initial 8-10 week recovery period is spot on for this type of injury.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472



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