How did Brazil lose their own world cup? Would Neymar Jr have made the difference???

Lucky enough to be in Brazil for this years football world cup, I experienced the exhilaration of a nation obsessed with a sport which is more of a lifestyle and religion than a weekend hobby. The hopes of the nation fell on the shoulders of a young 23 year old boy from south of Rio state, Neymar Jr. The name was spoken more than any other and thankfully he turned up this world cup and delivered what was expected of him. Neymar Jr was equal leading goal scorer in the world cup until a terrible challenge from a Colombian defender which lead to a fractured vertebrae at L3.

Would Brazil have triumphed over Germany in what ended to be a capitulation of a great team?? Who knows what would have ended up happening if both Neymar Jr was fit and captain Silva was not suspended……

The purpose of this article is to shed light onto the injury of Neymar Jr and to further investigate the structure of the spine and how healing works in such back injuries.

The vertebrae is carefully and cleverly constructed to support vital structures (spinal cord, spinal nerve roots, organs) for health and to create a suspension system for the body (intervetebral discs act like pneumatic tyres and suspension kit on a car) and also to aid movement of the body by forming attachment points for tendons and muscles.

Neymar Jr suffered a fracture (or break) to a transverse process of the L3 vertebrae in his back. The L3 is the third Lumbar vertebrae and has very important rolls in forwards and backward bending as well as side bending. The transverse process has muscle attachments that if overworked in recovery can disrupt the normal healing process and cuase significant longer term issues. There was little risk to vital neural (nerve) structures due to the amazing design of the spine to take heavy impact from behind. It is somewhat cage like around the spinal cord. (note spinal injuries normally occur due to compressive forces on the spine causing fracture and dislocation of spinal segments)

Bone healing in this process takes a minimum of 6 weeks. The bonding of the bone is achieved through small cells (osteoblasts) infiltrating the fractured zone and forming a “gluggy” callous. New bone cells are then created from this callous and the bone is able to be put under normal loads at 6 weeks. It must be noted that at least 3 months is required for further remodeling and strengthening of this tissue and it will continually remodel for up to 2 years.

The thought that Neymar Jr would therefore return amazingly for the second final with Holland was of course just a drummed up hope from a nation searching for something of a self esteem boost after their spanking from an inform Germany.

Neymar is sure to be running around in the next couple weeks and I look forward to seeing him stand up front next to Messi for Barcelona soon and again in 4 years to again try to hold the infamous world cup trophy for Brazil!

Author: Mark Mitchell