The Achilles Heel of These Three Football Teams Is, Well, the Achilles

Achilles tendon rupture, University Foot and Ankle Insitite

According to legend, Achilles was not only a fearless and talented swordsman – he was also virtually invincible.

The Achilles tendon, the tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, is named for the greatest warrior of the ancient Greek pantheon. It was said that upon his birth, Achilles’ mother dipped him into the River Styx by his foot, coating every inch of the young warrior’s body with magical powers of invulnerability – every inch except his heel. It was by his heel that he eventually met his downfall, struck by a well-aimed poisoned arrow at the gates of Troy. Since then, the “Achilles heel” has come to signify a person’s weak spot.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that the “warriors” of today face their greatest vulnerabilities not on the battlefield but on the football field. Achilles ruptures alone take out more football players than possibly any other injury, with roughly 36% of NFL players never returning to professional play. This statistic looms large in the over the heads of fans, players, and coaches alike after three separate Achilles injuries struck football teams during the pre-season this past week: two professional teams and one college team.

A Nearly Career-Ending Injury

Brendon Oliver, Achilles tendon rupture, Univeristy Foot and Ankle Insitute

Oliver is a third-year running back who has appeared in 22 games for the Chargers over the past two seasons.

Brandon Oliver, running back for the San Diego Chargers, sustained an injury Sunday in an exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings. It’s hard not to read too much into Coach Mike McCoy’s statement that the team is “going to miss him.”

“It’s a shame,” he went on. “That’s why you tell players, ‘You got to show up to work every day in this business and treat it like it’s your last, because you never know.’”

The average period needed for a full recovery and return to activity level is about 4-6 months, but according to studies, it appears that professional footballers take closer to a year to bounce back to their previous level of performance.

Worth the Risk?

Tight end for the Baltimore Ravens Benjamin Watson suffered a torn Achilles Saturday night against the Detroit Lions. Coach John Harbaugh expects that Watson will be out for the entire season. Harbaugh has argued passionately against the required pre-season games. To him, these games are “not meaningful,” and holding them only increases the risk of injury for the athletes.

Football players are particularly prone to Achilles injuries, due to the explosive movements and quick agility required of the sport’s athletes.

It’s also very common for athletes to suffer repeated tendon tears, especially if the original injury did not have adequate time to heal. That’s the bind that professional and college athletes continually find themselves in: Should I take a year off to rest and risk my career now? Or should I return to play as soon as possible, and risk my career in the future?

Quarterback for the Duke Blue Devils Thomas Sirk must be kicking himself over that very dilemma right now. Sirk tore his left Achilles tendon in February of this year, and only re-injured it last Thursday during practice. Sirk’s injury will cost him his season. Sirk had already missed a season in 2013 after tearing his right Achilles.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Achilles Tendon Injuries, Ruptured Achilles

Football is a common culprit of Achilles injuries, as well as basketball, sprinting, soccer, and tennis.

Dr. Bob Baravarian is no stranger to Achilles tendons injured by sports. “Out of 10 Achilles ruptures we see at UFAI, probably 7 of them occurred when the patient was playing sports. You’ll take off from the ground and all of a sudden you’ll hear a pop and you won’t be able to push off as you step.” Tendon tears are often mistaken for sprained ankles. An MRI can help with the diagnosis, but a foot and ankle specialist can usually detect it after a physical exam.

Achilles tendon repair surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Our surgeons utilize the PARS procedure, a revolutionary technique that allows for a very small incision, much less scarring, and a cleaner, speedier recovery. Patients wear a cast for two weeks, and then are fitted with a boot and can bear weight on the foot at 4 weeks. The tiny incision heals within a week and there’s minimal scarring. Patients can start physical therapy earlier, putting them on track faster towards their normal activities. Additionally, the tendon heals with a thinner, more natural contour for a cosmetically appealing reconstruction.

Save

Save

The UFAI Education Team

The UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
The UFAI Education Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Over 200,000 happy UFAI patients and growing
  • Yelp
    I had an absolutely great experience with Dr. Morris at this office.  I had a bad ankle/foot injury and although initially they didn't have an appointment available for several days later, they heard my case and agree...
    Matthew D.
  • Yelp
    Suzanne at UFAI saved my Ironman! I started to develop ankle stiffness about two weeks before my first Ironman. I was referred to Suzanne at UFAI in Valencia. With Suzanne's help and some emergency PT, I was able to ...
    Robert U.
  • Yelp
    I recently tore my CFL, got an MRI and was recommended surgery by my doctor in Northern California. After doing some of my own research, I came across this article - A Guide to Treating Ankle Sprains from Start to Fin...
    Wudan D.
  • CustomerSure
    I have always enjoyed my experiences here. A very warm and friendly atmosphere.
    Sa W.
  • Yelp
    I was referred by a friend and was very impressed.  The staff is kind and courteous.  Dr. Baravarian was excellent.  Reconstructive surgery, and on both feet with 12 weeks of recovery. The orthodics have been a grea...
    Melissa H.
  • CustomerSure
    Very helpful that my doctor plays hockey since I had a hockey injury!
    Kristina W.
  • CustomerSure
    Thank you to all of you. I felt welcomed and well taken care of. Thank you all for taking my foot pain away.
    Pauline M.
  • ZocDoc
    Very satisfied. Dr. Campbell is knowledgeable and very helpful.
    Francine F.
  • Yelp
    I went to see Dr. Bob for the problem I had with my foot.  I was very impressed with him and his staff.  Dr. Bob is both very professional and very knowledgeable.  Thank you Dr. Bob.
    Patty P.
  • Yelp
    Dr. Campbell is fabulous both in personality & expertise.  I went into my appointment with 4 separate issues & he knowledgeably answered all of my questions & addressed all of my concerns.  Marta who helped to schedul...
    Lisa D.
Same Day Appointments
Now Available!

Or call 877-989-9110

24 hours a day, 7 days a week