What to Know About Gordon Hayward’s Dislocated Ankle & Fractured Tibia

The Boston Celtics’ first game of the season didn’t exactly start off the way we all hoped. Small forward Gordon Hayward, making his debut as a Celtic, experienced what might be the most horrific sports injury since college basketball player Kevin Ware suffered an open fracture to his tibia that caused his bone to pop out of his skin.

What Happened to Gordon Hayward?

While trying to catch an alley-oop pass, Hayward came down badly after colliding with Lebron James. When strong forces are placed on the ankle, the bones can fracture and ligaments can tear. As Hayward came down, his leg was twisted underneath him as he collapsed to the floor, causing a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia – two very serious lower extremity injuries.

What is a Dislocated Ankle?

A dislocated ankle is most often the result of trauma to one or all of the three bones that make up the ankle joint: the tibia, fibula and talus. Hayward dislocated his ankle when the talus slipped out of its socket, which resulted in his ankle severely twisting.

Dislocated ankles can be very painful, as you can tell by Hayward’s facial expressions as he fell to the floor. Usually, there is immediate swelling and/or bruising to the joint area and a very obvious deformity.

What is a Fractured Tibia?

The tibia, also known as your shin bone, is the most commonly fractured long bone in the body. Since major forces cause the tibia to fracture, they are usually accompanied by other injuries – in Hayward’s case, a dislocated ankle.

Tibia fractures, as well as ankle dislocations, most commonly happen due to:

  • Falls
    Falling from high levels onto hard surfaces can fracture the tibia, which is what happened to Hayward. This is also a common reason for fractures among the elderly who may lack stability and balance.
  • Collisions
    Beyond Hayward’s collision with James – which caused him to land awkwardly and suffer from injury – vehicle crashes can also cause fractured tibias.
  • Twisting
    Snowboarding, skiing and contact sports can lead to excessive twisting of the legs, which can lead to fractures.

What is the Outlook for Gordon Hayward?

After the injury, Celtics athletic trainers and medical officials rushed to Hayward’s side and put his leg in an air cast. He was then taken off the court in a stretcher. Injuries like his require an X-ray to get a closer look and assess which bones have fractured and dislocated.

Hayward has now had surgery to repair both injuries and is expected to make a full recovery. It usually takes anywhere from four to six months for these types of injuries to heal, meaning the small forward will likely miss the entire 2017-2018 season while he recovers from this setback. 

As a former assistant team doctor with the Boston Celtics, Dr. David Davis knows firsthand how devastating this can be to a player and to the team. Dr. Davis and the entire Access Sports Medicine team wish Hayward a speedy recovery – Go Celtics!