Andrew Flintoff May Need Artificial Knee
Andrew Flintoff's chronic knee injury, if not properly taken care of, could end up with the England all-rounder needing an artificial joint within 20 years. The damage that Flintoff suffered to his knee during the Indian Premier League in April has begun a degenerative process that will be difficult to arrest, according to Derek Bickerstaff.
The cartilage, Bickerstaff says, has no capacity to heal itself and once it is damaged, its effectiveness as a shock absorber starts to decline and small pieces of debris start to cause irritation and swelling.
"I thought Flintoff was absolutely fantastic at Lord's," Bickerstaff, who has operated on both Simon Jones and Michael Vaughan, was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph. "But I would advise against everybody getting too excited and thinking that his problem has somehow been solved.
"The nature of the injury is that it waxes and wanes. All credit to the medical staff, who did some injection therapy to reduce the inflammation. But there is such a short gap between the Edgbaston and Headingley Tests and he will have virtually no rest in between.
"I know everybody will be disappointed if Flintoff breaks down again, but he only has to catch that sore area the wrong way and it will start to become badly irritated. He will be in most danger when fielding. At least the bowling action is predictable, even if he is pounding a lot of weight down on that knee six times an over."
The pain that Flintoff experienced at Lord's would have been familiar to Neil Foster, the former Essex and England seam bowler, who suffered from cartilage problems in his left knee for the last four years of his career.
Foster, now 47, has since had an osteotomy, an operation where the leg is broken and the knee realigned so that the worn parts of the joint are no longer rubbing against each other. He has also been told that he could need an artificial knee in seven or eight years time