Horror over Jean de Villiers' knee injury, doubtful for World Cup

Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)

The knee is a vulnerable joint and Springbok captain Jean de Villiers knows this all too well after suffering another knee injury, which could see him miss out on the 2015 Rugby World Cup that is only nine months away.

The 33-year-old, who scooped the award for SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2013, missed out on the Rugby World Cup in 2003 because of a knee injury.

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said Jean, who had previous surgery on his left knee, consulted an orthopaedic specialist to assess the exact extent of the injury he sustained in the 58th minute of the Test at the Millennium Stadium against Wales.

It was advised that he required surgical reconstruction of the knee.

Read:  Physical therapy can be as good as knee surgery

"We are currently consulting with the best specialists in South Africa to determine the best way to approach the surgery as there are potentially a few options available," Roberts said.
"It’s imperative that the best course of action is decided on so that Jean can start recovery and rehabilitation as soon as possible to give him the best chance to be fit for the World Cup.
"At this stage it’s still difficult to determine how long he will be out of action, but it would probably be at least eight months."

As de Villiers was forced back in a ruck his foot became stuck in the turf, forcing his knee to take the full brunt of the force against him. He twisted his left knee and dislocated his knee cap resulting in the centre being taken off the field in agony.

Initial scans confirmed some serious ligament damage to the inside of his knee and the supporting muscles. He also tore the medial and cruciate ligaments, including his hamstring.

Watch: The injury where De Villiers twists his knee and dislocates his knee cap:

When playing Rugby, ligaments can be injured in three ways:

1) As players get tackled,
2) When quickly changing direction whilst running and
3) Within rucks and mauls

Injury to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) may occur when players are caught in the grass and the knee is twisted. It is also caused by a force moving the lower leg out to the side or a blow to the outside of the knee.

The medial ligament has two parts: One deep section that attaches to the cartilage meniscus and the other attaches further down the joint. The deep part will rupture first and this often means that the cartilage is also damaged.

Read: Rugby knee injuries

Torn cartilage is a common injury and involves damage to the meniscus within the knee. The menisci are two half-moon-shaped (C-shaped) pieces of cartilage lying on the shinbone. The meniscus is called the lateral meniscus; the inner meniscus is called the medial meniscus.

These act as shock absorbers when the body walks or runs, by dispersing the weight. This protects the knee cartilage that covers the bones by allowing the surfaces to slide against one another without damage to either surface.

An injured medial meniscus is more common and can result from an impact on the outside of the knee. It will often be injured along with the medial ligament.

Read more:

A meniscus injury is a common rugby injury
Acupuncture an alternative to knee surgery
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries (knee)

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