One thing is sure: we are lacking official information regarding Daisuke Takahashi’s injury. Except the story he published on his blog, on the 28th of November – „I was diagnosed with right shinbone bruise” –, nothing else came out from his side; and the Japanese media are still commentating those little pieces of news, showing also a practice scene, in which Daisuke, attempting quad jumps, fell more than 30 times in one hour and a half.
A medical specialist contacted by Inside Skating thoroughly explained what is a „tibia/shinbone bruise” and what is the treatment for it – but these are general information and should be treated with caution; as the specialist pointed out, at this moment, the exact location of the bruise is not known and this particular detail is extremely important: „If the bone bruise is located near the knee joint – the same knee he had surgery a few years ago – it might prove more difficult to overcome the pain and the inflammation will persist as long as he continues to stress the knee. If, on the other hand, the contusion is lower on the tibia, the chances to heal and skate without pain are higher”.
by Florentina Tone
„Tibia or shinbone is the strongest weight-bearing bone in the human body. A contusion in this area is a painful condition due to injury and it happens quite often in sports with high impact on the legs. Bone contusions are microfractures of the bone with edema (inflammation) and small hemorrhage. They are best described by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They are also known as bone bruises, occult fractures or occult osseous lesions because you can’t see them on usual radiography (x-ray films)”, the medical specialist pointed out.
As for the treatment, „bone contusions in the shinbone are treated conservatively. The inflammation can be initially treated with rest to allow the injured tissue to heal, ice to reduce inflammation, compression and elevation of the leg. The doctor can also prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS like Naproxen, Ibuprofen etc.) and physiotherapy”.
In addition, „for healing, rest may be required for a couple of weeks. The healing and the long term consequences depend a lot on the location of the bruise; injury to the proximal tibia, near the knee joint, especially if that joint suffered previous trauma, may lead in time to posttraumatic osteoarthritis”.
Where exactly is the bruise?
At this point, as the medical specialist underlined, we’re lacking essential information: the exact location of the bone bruise. Is it lower on the tibia or in the proximity of the knee he had surgery on five years ago? For those unfamiliar with his medical situation, the Japanese skater was forced to withdraw from the competitive skating scene at the end of 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) – he underwent surgery to repair ligament damage and his right meniscus and, also, a bolt was inserted into his right knee. A long process of rehabilitation followed – but he managed to overcome the difficult moment just in time for the 2009-2010 season, winning the bronze medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
On a forum dedicated to the Japanese skater (Daisuke Takahashi Fan Forum), where admirers from all around the world gather to discuss Daisuke’s career, a fan provided a translation, from Japanese to English, of a chapter from Be Soul 2, a memoir book written by Daisuke and launched in Japan this November. The book says it loud and clear: Daisuke has been experiencing trouble with his right knee for some time now.
Actually, the pain in his knee – the same right knee he had surgery in 2008 – started last year, after NHK Trophy. According to this particular translation from Be Soul 2, Daisuke tried to find an explanation for the pain: „I think it’s because I came to be able to land quads on one foot at that time and that put additional strain on my right knee. (…) It could be also the cause of it that I forcibly practiced with unfitting boots before Cup of China”.
Later on, the day after he came from the Grand Prix Final in Sochi (at the beginning of December, last year), where the Japanese skater won the gold medal, “I had a severe pain and could hardly walk. After I had a little rest, the pain was gone but it began again when I restarted the practice”. Having pain throughout the Japanese National Championships, a year ago in December, Daisuke had a medical exam at the end of the event: “The result was an inflammation of cartilage, muscle and tendon of the back side of knee, caused by overuse. It hurt when I started the practice in the morning, but it disappeared gradually with progress of the practice. I took an injection of hyaluronic acid in New Year and the pain was gone. But I didn’t know when and how it came back. It made me anxious. I knew the overuse of my knee was bad, but I couldn’t help but overused it”.
According to the medical specialist contacted by Inside Skating, “The hyaluronic acid is a lubricant used in order to treat traumatized knee joints”.
Advised by his doctor and his coach to withdraw from 2013 World Team Trophy
The same knee seemed to be just fine at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Osaka (February 2013), “but just before going to Canada for the World Championships, when I practiced more and more intensely, the pain came back. I didn’t feel a pain during performing in the real part of the competition, but before it and when I started to skate it hurt rather severely. When I shifted my weight onto the foot, the place of the injury hurt”. The medical exam after the Worlds in London (Canada), when Daisuke Takahashi ended up on the sixth place, proved it was, again, an inflammation. “The symptoms were different but the cause of it was the same, overuse. I practiced so hard and the rapid diet to lose weight also worked badly. The lack of nourishment affected human body. My doctor told me the most effective cure was to take a rest”.
Under these circumstances, the skater was advised by both of his doctor and his coach, Mrs. Utako Nagamitsu, to withdraw from the World Team Trophy, in April this year: “But I thought, if I declined a minute before WTT started, it was rude as I once announced my participation. And moreover, I was really eager to skate in Kobe Charity for the Great East Japan Earthquake which would be held two weeks prior to WTT. (…) There was one more reason. I wanted to test the edge which I changed to after the failure in World Championships. I stuck to my will of participation based on various reasons. Fortunately I finished WTT without any accident, but my knee still hurt. The previous pain was gone by one injection, but it didn’t work at that time”.
Moreover, according to the same translation from Daisuke’s recent book, Be Soul 2, the skater sprained his right ankle in the early summer and couldn’t do jumps for a while.
„When the skaters jump, the left foot hits the right foot and damages bones”
Returning to the tibia bruise the skater recently suffered, the medical specialist contacted by Inside Skating was categorical: „If the bone bruise is located near the suffering knee it might prove more difficult to overcome the pain and the inflammation will persist as long as he continues to stress the knee joint. If, on the other hand, the contusion is lower on the tibia – and not near the knee – the chances to heal and skate without pain are higher”.
According to the Japanese media, the injury happened on Tuesday, 26th of November; but they also showed a video recording from Saturday, 23th, the last day of the weekly practice, when Daisuke Takahashi, attempting quad jumps, fell more than 30 times in one hour and a half; the skater is heard saying: “These are the jumps which I could land if I’m not fatigued. I don’t think they are bad”. Commenting upon Daisuke’s bone bruise for a Japanese television, Chika Suguri, the younger sister of Fumie Suguri, said that this kind of injury sometimes happens to skaters: „When they jump, the left foot hits the right foot and damages bones or something else”.