Madonna Breaks Bones in Fall From Horse

Full Recovery Likely, Orthopaedic Surgeon Predicts

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 17, 2005 -- Singer/actress/author Madonna fell off a horse at her estate in England on Tuesday, breaking her collarbone, a hand, and cracking three ribs, according to news reports.

Madonna was treated and released from the hospital, the reports state.

A full recovery is likely, predicts Henry Goitz, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and chief of sports medicine at the Medical University of Ohio. Goitz didn't treat Madonna, and he doesn't have any extra information on her accident or injuries.

Goitz talked with WebMD about Madonna's reported injuries, the healing process, and how women of Madonna's age (47) recover from broken bones.

Broken Bones

Broken collarbones "may heal naturally but may take several months. Occasionally, they may require surgery. It all depends upon the pattern of injury and the pattern of the break," says Goitz.

When ribs are cracked (especially in more than one place),"there's initially a concern [about] whether the lung is involved, because the lung is closely adhered to the rib," says Goitz.

He predicts that Madonna's lungs weren't hurt in the accident, based on news reports. "They would have talked about her being in the hospital with chest tubes and things of that sort thing" if her lungs had been affected, says Goitz.

Temporarily Tough to Sing

Cracked ribs take several months to recover, "but certainly will feel much better in several weeks," he says. He notes that "deep breathing would be more difficult because it hurts to take large, deep breaths. So would it be very difficult to sing ... with a fractured rib. That would probably be at least for several weeks, if not for a couple of months."

Each time you inhale, the ribs move a bit, and that can be painful with broken ribs. "Particularly for singers who are trying to fill their lungs with each breath, becomes more difficult," says Goitz, who is also the director of the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at the Medical College of Ohio.

Treating a broken hand "could be as simple as conservative management with ... splinting or casting," says Goitz, noting that surgery may be needed, depending upon which portion of the hand was hurt.

'Excellent' Chance for Full Recovery

Madonna has an "excellent chance of good recovery and bone healing," says Goitz. Her age shouldn't be a problem, he predicts.

"It's only when you get into the postmenopausal years where bone density may become a problem," he says. The length of time a person has been in menopause is one factor, along with whether they've been taking calcium supplements or estrogen replacement therapy, says Goitz.

WebMD has no information on whether Madonna is in menopause or is taking supplements or hormones.

"At 47, she still should be fine," says Goitz. "I would not anticipate at her age and activity level ... that she should have any problems healing those bones. ... She's still young enough that most of her bones will heal."

Madonna's Active Lifestyle a Plus

Being active should "absolutely" help Madonna heal, says Goitz.

"We would anticipate, unless there are things that we don't know about, that her bone density should be quite good. Her ability to heal should be quite good," says Goitz.

"For all of us, increased activity levels are healthy and good for all of us," he says.

Horseback Riding Safety

News reports don't note whether Madonna was wearing a helmet at the time of her accident. But every rider should wear a helmet, says Goitz.

His horseback riding tips:

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Don't ride beyond your level of expertise.
  • Learn the basics of riding.
  • Know that accidents can happen, even for experienced riders.
  • Don't ride when you're tired.
  • If you're a new rider, don't go for a feisty horse.

"The word to all is to respect horseback riding," says Goitz. "A lot of folks will go on vacation and take it as a fun thing to do. They may ride bareback with no helmets along a beach."

"There's some unpredictability with an animal. ... Things can happen on a horse. The thing is to do all you can to minimize those types of events," says Goitz.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Associated Press. Henry Goitz, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, chief of sports medicine, Medical University of Ohio; and director, Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Medical College of Ohio.
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