Seriously. This post will spoil the movie for you.
Still with me? Good. I just saw The Dark Knight Rises (finally) and I thought it might be of interest to some of you out there to get a chiropractor's opinion of Bruce Wayne's injury and subsequent treatment and recovery. As much as I love it that a chiropractic adjustment saves Gotham City (!!!), there are some pretty serious problems with Batman's recovery from a physiological standpoint. Let's talk about the injury first.
Bane lifts Batman over his head and slams him down over his knee. In the comics if I recall correctly (nerd alert!) Bane actually breaks Batman's spine like this. A posterior impact such as this is probably going to cause a spondylolysis type fracture which separates the arch structure of the vertebra from the vertebral body. They don't mention the specific injury in the movie, but we're going to assume for the sake of argument here that Bane does NOT break Batman's spine in the movie.
We can figure this out by the following logic. Once the fusion core is disconnected Fox says that they have 54 days (less than 8 weeks until it blows up). This means that if Bruce gets transported immediately to the Pit where we will assume he spends at least 2 weeks actively trying to escape and get back to Gotham after being able to walk again, he has at absolute max a little over 5 weeks to go from unable to move to climbing and jumping. With a fractured vertebra even the most physically fit person is going to take a lot longer to heal than 5 weeks. Not to say that you can't have your spine broken by a behemoth slamming you over his knee, just that it doesn't fit with Bruce's recovery. So the types of injuries we are left with are a severe sprain/strain of the lumbar spine and muscles, malposition/subluxation of vertebra(e), and/or a herniated disc.
So let's assume Bruce has all of these. It's certainly possible in this situation. The type of herniated disc that an injury like that would cause would probably be on the front of the disk towards the belly. In the lumbar spine the spinal canal has a lot more room to move than in the upper spine, so many times an anterior disc herniation will not have the same pain and loss of muscle function that the more common posterolateral herniation (which can press directly on the nerves that go down the legs) will cause. Terribly painful for sure, but not as detrimental to walking. The muscles and ligaments in that area would certainly be damaged by the blow and would take some rehab to recover, but let's assume that the guys in the pit have Bruce doing just the right stretches and exercises to heal ASAP.
Still with me so far? OK, now it gets weird. The guy in the cell with Batman tells Bruce that he has a vertebrae sticking out of his skin(!!!). Let's assume that English is not this guy's first language. Maybe he means that Batman's vertebra is poking his skin outwards noticeably. We have already determined that he doesn't have a fracture, and frankly if Bruce's lumbar spine has exploded through his back he's probably not going to last a week let alone 5. OK so one of Bruce's vertebrae has been knocked backwards and needs to be put back in place. This could certainly affect his ability to stand and walk properly. But wait a minute!
Didn't Bane slam his knee into Batman's back? How does that push his vertebra backwards to the point of pushing out of the skin? Shouldn't it have moved forwards towards his belly? And then the treatment for this is for the old man to punch Bruce in the back ? How is that going to help? That would just push the vertebra farther forwards and make the problem worse! The rope-around-the-torso (TM) traction machine might help a little I guess, but at this point things are looking grim for Gotham.
So like any true nerd I have decided that rather than the creators making a mistake (unthinkable!), there must be other factors that we have not considered yet. Here's what must have happened:
Bane drops Batman over his knee but due to the fact that his knee was at an angle and Bruce was slightly rotated he impacts one of his lumbar vertebrae on the posteroLATERAL aspect and ROTATES the vertebra counterclockwise. This causes a disc herniation to one or both sides (still pretty unlikely, but a severe rotation of a single vertebra could possibly cause this) causing disc material to press on the nerve root(s) causing excruciating pain and temporary paralysis to Batman's legs. Undoubtably there is ancillary damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lumbar spine. Batman is immediately thrown in the Pit to languish. Shortly thereafter the old (I'm assuming chiropractor) hangs him by a rope from the ceiling and hits him juuuuuuuuuuust right in the mammilary/transverse process rotating the vertebra back into place and taking the pressure off of the disc in question. The traction from the rope allows the nuclear material of the disc to be pulled back into place and because Bruce is the pinnacle of health (let's conveniently forget that his Dr. in the beginning of the movie told him he was a physical wreck) his rehabilitation goes perfectly and within a few weeks he is back to running and jumping etc.
Now let me take off my nerd glasses for a minute. Unfortunately this scenario is all but impossible. Recovery from an injury like this could take months or even years and even then Bruce would probably never be good as new again, especially keeping in mind that he wasn't exactly young and in perfect health to begin with. Even in the comics he was out of commission for a long time and even had some mystical, comic book style help. Obviously this is all in fun and I realize that with any comic book movie you have to have a little suspension of disbelief. I loved the movie and can't wait to see it again, but I just wish Christopher Nolan had consulted with me first. The number is 207-837-6936 if you need me for your next movie Chris!