Average American Male Adult More at Risk for Achilles Tendon Injury than Pro Athletes | APMA
Average American Male Adult More at Risk for Achilles Tendon Injury than Pro Athletes

Recently, there have been many news articles covering the unfortunate Achilles injury and recovery of MLB All-Star Mike Soroka. Many of those articles also revisit notable Achilles tendon injuries among other professional athletes (David Beckham, Tiger Woods, Ryan Howard, and Kobe Bryant) and compare timetables for recovery and return to their respective sport. What the majority of new articles do not address is that the average American male is more at risk for an Achilles tendon injury than professional athletes.  

During National Foot Health Awareness Month, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) would like the public to understand what this injury can mean in terms of risks, treatment, and recovery for the average American.

The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that connects the back of the leg to the heel bone.  It’s also known as the "heel cord," and it facilitates walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground in activities that involve walking, running, and jumping.  

Recognizing an Achilles tendon injury is very important, because neglected or untreated ruptures can cause many future problems with both daily activities and sports competition. While an Achilles tendon injury can occur in almost anyone, these injuries have been historically linked with the “weekend warrior” American male (while female athletes are also at risk for Achilles injuries, higher testosterone levels predispose men to tendon injuries).

These amateur athletes (usually aged 30 to 55) engage in sporting activities for social or competitive reasons. These athletes tend to be de-conditioned compared to professional athletes who routinely train and condition their bodies for physical sports.  

“Although anyone can experience an Achilles tendon rupture, there are certain recognized factors that place people at increased risk,” said APMA spokesperson Wenjay Sung, DPM (Los Angeles), who has written and spoken nationally on the repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon. These risk factors include:

  • Weakness of the calf muscle due to de-conditioning
  • Over-extension or exertion of the tendon
  • Specific antibiotic use (e.g., Fluoroquinolones)
  • Cortisone injection(s) around the Achilles tendon
  • A previous history of Achilles tendinitis
  • Previous Achilles rupture treated non-surgically

So what should athletes (professional or otherwise) watch out for? Symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture include:

  • Weakness and lack of push-off strength
  • Instability and difficulty walking
  • Swelling around the area, more apparent when compared to the other leg
  • Sometimes pain around the area of the rupture
  • Sometimes a noticeable dell or depression in the area where there used to be a heel cord

Podiatric physicians and surgeons are trained to treat Achilles tendon injuries using conservative or surgical treatments and will work with a patient to devise the appropriate treatment plan based on their condition and lifestyle. APMA member physicians are uniquely qualified among medical professionals, based on their education, training, and experience. If you suspect an Achilles tendon injury, find a podiatrist today and learn more about all the ways podiatrists can keep you in the game at www.apma.org/KeepAmericaActive.


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