By Dr. Roman Burk
An Achilles tendon rupture is a complete or partial tear that occurs when the tendon is stretched beyond its capacity. Forceful jumping or pivoting, or sudden accelerations of running, can overstretch the tendon and cause a tear. This is a common basketball injury, due to the high amount of forceful actions and reactions our bodies undergo while playing this great sport.
Achilles tendon ruptures are most often seen in “weekend warriors”— typically, middle-aged people participating in sports in their spare time. These individuals are typically not at top condition like some of our collegiate or professional athletes. However, we still do see these injuries in some of the greatest basketball players in the world. For example, Kobe Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon.
A person with a ruptured Achilles tendon may experience one or more of the following:
• Sudden pain (which feels like a kick or a stab) in the back of the ankle or calf—often subsiding into a dull ache
• A popping or snapping sensation
• Swelling on the back of the leg between the heel and the calf
• Difficulty walking (especially upstairs or uphill) and difficulty rising up on the toes.
There are multiple treatment options for Achilles tendon ruptures. These treatment methods range from conservative casting to surgically repairing the tendon. These treatment options are typically determined based on the your activity level. In our active, athletic, competitive athletes, we would recommend primary surgical repair, whereas our relatively inactive, unhealthy patients, they may benefit from conservative casting.
If you have experienced this injury, or know someone who has, I encourage you to contact Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle immediately for evaluation and treatment recommendations. The sooner this is treated, typically the better the outcome is.