The calf muscle in the leg tapers down and forms the Achilles’ tendon. This is the strongest tendon in the body and comes into use when we run, jump or balance our body weight on one leg. The main function of this tendon is to raise our heel when we are on our toes. An Achilles’ tendon rupture is a very common injury among footballers. Dr Dilip Nadkarni, orthopaedic surgeon and sports physician (and a pretty good singer who croons for a cause) tells us more about the condition.
What sorts of sportsmen are more vulnerable to it?
I have seen Achilles’ tendon rupture commonly among badminton players and footballers. Basketball players, gymnasts, weight lifters also suffer injury to this tendon. The tendon sometimes gets ‘surprised’ when a player who is running fast has to stop suddenly. The tendon also tears if a player lands poorly after a jump.
Achilles’ tendon ruptures usually need aggressive management. Some heal with plaster cast application, but most need surgery. I perform Achilles’ tendon repair using the percutaneous method (a method where surgery is done with needle puncture) using keyholes rather than a long incision. After repair, the leg is immobilized in a cast for 6 weeks. Physiotherapy follows and the player undergoes exercises to stretch and strengthen the calf muscle.
Three months is the minimum time out for a player after Achilles’ tendon injury. Only after good rehab and muscle training should a player be permitted to resume high velocity sport.
The main danger of returning to sport too quickly after Achilles’ tendon injury is suffering from a re-rupture. The players have to be counselled about this possibility as most sportsmen are in a huge hurry to get back on the field.
The content has been verified by
Dr Dilip Nadkarni
, orthopaedic surgeon and sports physician.
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