Ryan Fitzgerald attends a Crows game with club champion Darren Jarman.
Ryan Fitzgerald attends a Crows game with club champion Darren Jarman.

Fitzy stares down devastating reality

AFTER 18 AFL games and four knee reconstructions, and facing long-term pain, Ryan "Fitzy" Fitzgerald may need to have his leg broken and realigned.

In a shocking radio reveal the 42-year-old Nova star and former Sydney Swans and Adelaide Crows forward, who kicked five goals on debut before his career was cut short by knee injuries, revealed the full extent of his pain in life after footy.

The latest reconstruction, the third on his right knee, undergone in December of last year, hasn't helped Fitzy with the pain he has been suffering and he's still struggling to kick a footy with his kids.

Being able to be more active as a dad was his main motivation behind a fourth reco.

"I went and got a knee reconstruction in December," Fitzy told co-host Andrew "Wippa" Wipfli.

"Someone put me on to a surgeon, I went and got it done and it hasn't got any better. It's actually worse than what it was before I went in for the knee reconstruction.

"I have tried to build up the muscles around the knee and it hasn't worked and I am getting the pain I was getting before the reconstruction."

As a result the former Swan decided to get a second opinion on why he was struggling to get over the surgery.

The results were astounding and shocking.

Fitzy with his son Huey.
Fitzy with his son Huey.

"I went and got a second opinion, I went to the Swans doctor, a man named Tommy Cross, and Tommy goes 'I'll look at your MRI scans and I'll X-ray your whole body'," Fitzgerald said.

"So I have four X-rays, hips back, knees, everything.

"He has come back and said, 'First of all you have scoliosis in your back so you will have problems down the track. You have got osteoarthritis in your hips that you will have problems with and why you have got pain in your right knee is you have really bad arthritis, you will need a knee replacement at some stage in your life.'"

Cross asked Fitzy to walk down a hallway and, after branding him "pretty bow-legged", proceeded to recommend a rather drastic surgical option to fix all his issues.

"I've had this procedure done, it's a great procedure but you might need a leg alignment," Cross told Fitzgerald.

"'What they do is break your leg underneath your knee and turn your knee to straighten up with the top bit of your leg, so you walk straight instead of bow-legged and you'll be pain-free. It's changed my life.'"

Fitzy playing for the Swans in 2000.
Fitzy playing for the Swans in 2000.

Fitzgerald seemed to be considering the option as his fellow hosts made jokes about being willing to do it for him in the carpark with baseball bats.

"You basically have to break your legs and you're on crutches for eight weeks," he said, before a caller who had the surgery called in and described it in graphic detail.

"The most painful thing I have ever had in my life," caller Glen said.

"They cut through the bone, like a wedge when you cut a tree down, and then they use a donor bone hip they put inside the cut - that has got to heal for eight weeks, then you start your physio again."

If it sounds painful it probably is, but for this former AFL player that's the price of 18 games at the elite level for Sydney and Adelaide.

News Corp Australia

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