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Surgeon: It could be up to a year before Anderson Silva can throw another leg kick

Dr. Steven Sanders, the man who performed the surgery on Anderson Silva last week, was a guest on SiriusXM's Tapout Radio and explained to hosts Ricky Bones and Punkass the level of pain Silva was in, why he decided to address both the tibia and the fibula in the same surgery, and how it could actually be a year before "The Spider" can begin to throw leg kicks.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

It hasn't even been two weeks since Anderson Silva suffered that catastrophic injury (details), breaking both his tibia and fibula while attempting to kick Chris Weidman at UFC 168, and the image of "The Spider" clutching his broken leg and writhing in pain is one that will be etched in all of our heads for quite some time, most likely forever.

See the photos here.

As the years go by, this gruesome injury will be recalled in conversation in the same fashion in which we discuss a scene from a famous horror movie.

There are not many people on earth who could possibly know or understand how much pain Silva was going through last Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, unless of course you are Corey Hill, Joe Theisman or someone who has suffered through this type of injury. Dr. Steven Sanders, the man who performed the surgery that included inserting a titanium rod into Silva's Tibia, was a guest on SiriusXM Tapout Radio recently, and he explained to hosts Ricky Bones and Punkass the level of pain in question.

"I can share with you from my experience of being an orthopedic surgeon and frequently taking care of fractures, that a broken leg at that level is extremely painful. We have a lot of nerve endings that run along the bone in that area. The tibia -- our leg bone -- is sort of exposed, if you will, just under the skin in the front of our leg. So, it's a very sensitive area, as anyone knows if they have bumped their shin against something. Fracturing it is going to be a quantum leap in terms of increase in pain. It's a very painful injury and then, of course, there is the shock effect as well."

The doctor also explained why both broken bones were addressed during the same surgery, and how the fibula (the smaller of the two bones) sometimes has to be treated separately. In the case of Silva's leg, he felt it was better for the overall healing process to tackle both bones in one surgery.

There were several factors in performing the surgery, where I felt it was in Anderson's best interest, not to be addressing the fibula separately," Sanders explained. "There is certainly a chance that it can heal on it's own, so that, of course, gives him the benefit of the doubt. That also would've meant making an incision where the fracture occurred on the other bone, and I felt that would have had a negative effect on the biology, the early biology of healing. There were a couple of strategic reasons not to fix the fibula at this time. If it turns out that the fibula, the smaller bone, is the problem, than certainly that can be addressed down the road with a minor, almost outpatient operation."

Even though most of the early prognostications of when Silva can return to his training regimen are six to nine months, Sanders said it could actually be up to a year before the 38-year-old fighter can begin to throw leg strikes again.

"From a pure physical perspective of the bone, optimistically, yes we would like to see his bones heal over a three to nine month period of time. Then, you of course have the soft tissues around the bone, and that is obviously going to remain a sensitive area. So I guess there are gradations of what his activity will be and he will be dictating a lot of that to us as the next following months unfold. I would not have anyone with that injury -- regardless of the patient -- no one would be involved in a striking type, or high contact sport to that area, easily could be anywhere from six to 12 months."

While Silva isn't getting any younger, and will for all intents and purposes be 40 years of age when he makes his Octagon return, Sanders explained that age "is not a factor in terms of delaying or working against his healing."

As to whether or not he thinks Silva can return to form and be as dangerous as he once was, Sanders declined to comment saying, "that is not something I can opine on."

Check out the full audio from interview below:


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