Tony Romo is reported to have an L-1 compression fracture and likely to be out for the next six to 10 weeks. I predicted and abbreviated season for Romo, but I did not expect the blow to come this early. The bigger question for me now is “will this be the end of Tony Romo?”
A compression fracture is a little different from most fractures as the mechanism of injury is compression rather than trauma like most fractures. In this case the compression was caused by trauma, but I have many elderly patients with compression fractures that are caused by poor posture. L-1 refers to the first lumbar vertebrae which represent the beginning of the lower back region. As we saw when Romo went down, it is the flexed or bent position that puts the vertebrae at risk for this compression injury.
For the most part, this injury is just about time. Romo will have to avoid forward bending for six to eight weeks and may be given some type of brace to aid with this. Romo will be limited in regard to training, as trunk bending is a part of just about everything we do. Generally if someone with this injury adheres to the movement restrictions they are given, the vertebrae will heal on its own. Upon return, Romo would likely need to work on his core after having his trunk mobility restricted for six to eight weeks. The 10 week return mark is realistic on the injury healing, but Romo would once again be in a position where his conditioning and feel for the game is lacking while other players are in mid-season form. This injury is not the end of the world by any means, but I think there is a larger point when it comes to Tony Romo.
This is Romo’s fourth bone fracture in two years! I don’t believe that any other player can match this fracture rate. Furthermore, when you consider that Romo plays the safest position on the field and has the best offensive line in the league, there is no reason he should get injured this often, or have his injuries be this severe.
I often compare the bones in the human body to being like a high value target; like a boss of a mafia family or even the President of the United States, as most of our bones have many layers of protection. When someone fractures a bone, you can assume that all the structures that are supposed to protect the bone have been overpowered. History tells us that “The boss” and the President can be harmed, but it also tells us that this is very uncommon. There are typically only two ways you can get to these high value targets. The first way is by having a greater force, that simply overpowers the security of the high value target. The second way is when the high value target has some level of dysfunction among his security that gives a lesser force a way to get to the target.
In the case of the human body, the bone is the high value target and when you see someone get “jacked up” (have an overpowering force overcome their protection) and come out with a broken bone, you can understand why this happens. On the other hand when you see a player take hits that are routine, end up with broken bones, you must consider whether this player has some bodily dysfunction that is allowing this to happen. In the case of Tony Romo, I have definitely come to the conclusion that he suffers from the latter scenario. I can’t put my finger on it, but I believe Tony Romo has something more going on. I am in no position to speak on his bone density or any other condition he could have, but I will not be surprised if somewhere down the line we find out Romo has some type of chronic issue that causes his body to be more susceptible to injury.
There are already reports that Romo plans to return, but I think he should listen to his body and wrap up a decent career. We will see what happens with Romo’s real career, but I think it is safe to say that his fantasy football career is basically over.