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Posts for: April, 2013

Achilles Tendon Ruptures – Not Just For Pro Athletes

Over the weekend Kobe Bryant had surgery on his torn Achilles tendon, ending his season with two games left in the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff chase. Lakers' star likely will need six to nine months for recovery from the most serious injury of his 17-year NBA career.

Houston achilles tendon ruptureMost people attribute Achilles Tendon Ruptures to elite athletes. As more and more weekend warriors hit the trail, pavement, or court, the injury has become more commonplace than you might expect.

The Achilles Tendon is a strong tendon that connects the muscles of the lower leg to the heel bone. The tendon allows the foot to bend downward and is very important in walking. The Achilles tendon is one of the strongest tendons, but can be partially or completely ruptured if it is overstretched. Most patients report feeling a pop or snap during the injury along with the feeling of being kicked in the back of the leg. Extreme pain usually arises quickly. Swelling typically occurs around the heel and the lower part of the calf. Depending on whether the tendon is partially or completely ruptured, the tendon may still have some function.

The diagnosis of an Achilles tendon rupture must be made and treated immediately by your Thomas Podiatrist. Although a decreased ability to bend the foot downward is indicative of an Achilles tendon rupture, it is important to rule out any other injuries, such as broken bones. In most cases, an MRI will be ordered to assess the extent of the damage.

Treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures varies depending on the extent of the injury. Most partial ruptures will be able to be treated with a special boot and using crutches. In more extensive injuries, surgical intervention may be required.

This is a serious injury that sometimes can be avoided.  Often times patients ignore symptoms of achilles tendonitis which often responds very well with conservative treatment with ice, stretching, physical therapy and treatment with EPAT at our office.

If you suspect that you may have sustained an Achilles tendon rupture, you should contact Thomas Podiatrist Dr. Mark Olsen immediately, so that you have the best possible chance of a speedy recovery and not be sidelined with Kobe Bryant.  

When you injure yourself and have to keep the weight off one leg for several weeks or longer, you might be forced to give up your normal activities.  You can no longer run on the treadmill or enjoy a long walk through your neighborhood.  But just because your life has changed for a certain amount of time does not mean you have to sit on the couch all day every day.  Here are a few ways you can stay active while you are recovering from an injury.

  1. Stretch

Since you will likely have to rest more often than you did in the past, doing stretches for your back, neck, arms, and your good leg will be essential.  You do not want those muscles to get stiff and cause you more pain that your injury is already causing.  Do the stretches on a regular basis and you will find that your muscles will stay strong while you rest your injured leg.

    2.Exercise Lightly

Your physical therapist will probably give you some exercises that you will need to do with your injured leg.  Follow those instructions and make sure that every time you do your exercises that you do them correctly.  Form is just as important as repetition.  Between physical therapy exercises, there are other things you can do as well.  Lift hand weights to keep your arms strong.  Do some sit ups to keep your core toned.  And do some leg lifts on your good leg.  Keeping yourself as strong as possible will help your recovery speed up as well.

    3.Play Board Games

You are likely a very busy person without much spare time.  When you are injured, there will be many things you can no longer do.  But instead of letting your mind go to mush, pull out some of your favorite board games and play them with your kids, neighbors, friends, or anyone else who stops by to help you during your recovery.  You will have a good time with the game and you will get to enjoy people you know and love at the same time.  Plus, your mind will be occupied and you will not be thinking about your discomfort as much.

    4.Get Fresh Air

Just because you are not moving far from your house does not mean that you cannot leave the walls of your living room at all.  Even if you do not have the energy to go to work or run errands, you can still sit on your porch, deck, or at least open a window.  When you get fresh air, you will feel better all around and will likely get the motivation to venture farther soon.

    5.Look into Alternatives to Crutches

Crutches are wonderful tools, but they can also be very painful and even limiting in terms of your mobility.  After you hobble around on crutches for a few days, you will understand how many things you cannot do and how slowly you have to do the things you can still do.  Fortunately, there are alternatives to crutches on the market. has three such alternatives: the Hands Free Crutch, the Knee Walker, and the Seated Scooter.  The Hands Free Crutch allows you to walk much like normal leaving your hands free to carry whatever you need to take along with you.  The Knee Walker has wheels so you can scoot yourself from place to place with your good leg and the Seated Scooter lets you rest wherever you go.  All three options allow you to stay even more active during your recovery.