Injuries of Achilles Tendons
Nov 15, 2011 - 2:39:40 PM
(HealthNewDigest.com) - COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s happened to Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Tiger Woods, Elisabeth Shue and even Vice President Al Gore have gone through it - and now, so are an alarming number of professional football players.
They have all had injuries to their Achilles tendons and, this year alone in the NFL, the number of players who have been sidelined by these injuries has more than quadrupled.*
And now experts are warning the rest of us to take heed of their injuries, or run the risk of suffering the same fate.
“These injuries can happen to anyone,” said Timothy Hewett, PhD, Director of Research at Ohio State University Medical Center‘s Sports Medicine Department. “From kids playing sports to weekend warriors to professional athletes - no one is immune.”
The Achilles is the tendon that stretches over your heel and injuries to that part of the body can not only be extremely painful, but terribly debilitating. If surgery is required, recovery can take 6 to 8 months, often more.
In fact, “in the NFL, a third or more of athletes who rupture their achilles tendon never play again,” said Hewett. “And even those who do come back lose a full year of participation.”
But it’s not just NFL players who are at risk. Anyone who doesn’t take the time to stretch and properly prepare to compete, runs the risk of injuring their Achilles tendon, especially those over 30.
This past summer contract negotiations delayed the start of NFL training camps, and that time off may have proved costly. “Because these players were locked out, they did not have access to their professional sports medicine team,” said Hewett. “We really think, based on the data, that that had a huge impact on their readiness to compete. The bottom line is, preparation for play is very important.”
That’s a lesson Matt Williams learned the hard way. While training for a half marathon, Matt realized something was wrong. “A couple months into my training, I could tell that I was having some pain in my left ankle and I knew it was more than just a tweak,” Williams said.
It turns out, scar tissue had begun to develop between his ankle bone and Achilles tendon. “There was a lot of pain, stiffness and immobility,” he said. “It has taken a solid two months of being committed to physical therapy just to get better.”
All things considered, Williams was lucky. His tendon did not tear and he avoided surgery. But he learned his lesson just the same.
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