Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar suffered a fractured vertebrae in his lower back in the closing minutes of the July 4 World Cup match between Columbia and Brazil, USA Today quotes the Brazilian team doctor as saying. The star took a knee to the lower back from Columbia's Juan Zuniga. He was immediately taken off the field and to a local hospital.
Brazil won the match with Columbia 2-1 and advances to the semi-finals on July 8 against Germany. Neymar was carried from the field in apparent physical and emotional pain. NBC Sports quotes Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar, Brazil's team physician, as stating that the fracture was "benign" and that no surgery was needed. Lasmar suggested that Neymar will need pain control medication and a rehab program.
No timetable has been set as yet for his return to the sport and NBC suggests that it could even affect his play for the Barcelona’s club.
At this time, the actual type of fracture that Neymar suffered is unclear. It appears that there was little or no damage to the spinal cord. The most likely diagnosis is a compression fracture.The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons describes treatment as
Most flexion injuries (compression fractures, burst fractures) can be treated in a brace for 6 to 12 weeks. By gradually increasing physical activity and doing rehabilitation exercises, most patients avoid post injury problems.
A compression fracture can result when a portion of a vertebrae is struck so hard that it collapses, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. While the majority of these fractures are due to illness or disease, it can also be caused by "any event that stresses the spine past its breaking point." The pain from such fractures is described as "severe."
Neymar's loss to the Brazilian team may be key to whether or not they make it past Germany and into the World Cup finals. The remaining team members will have to each step up their level of play and not take Germany lightly.