Posts Tagged ‘achilles surgery’

Preventing and Treating Achilles Tears

Brandon Mines, MDYou may know that Chamique Holdsclaw, one of my former Atlanta Dream players (not to mention one of basketball’s most gifted female athletes), suffered an Achilles tendon injury this year. While this injury is common with basketball players, it is most prevalent in men ages 35-45. They’re often the “weekend warrior” types—so the injury is more likely to happen when they overdo it, and when they don’t have a good stretching regimen.

There are two basic variations of Achilles injuries: a bad sprain, and a complete tear. It’s important to know whether the Achilles is torn or not, because the treatment is very different: a torn Achilles means surgery; a strained Achilles means rehab and rest. Some people with Achilles tears are misdiagnosed with sprains, only to find out later that they have Achilles tears and they’ve missed the window to have it fixed. (An Achilles tear should be repaired within four weeks of tearing it.)

Here’s the difference between an Achilles strain and a tear: a strain is a gradual onset of pain that tends to get worse with more activity. An Achilles tear is a sudden injury, and it feels as if you were hit in the back of the ankle—the tendon actually pops and tears in a sudden fashion. Most people who have this tear will actually say, “Somebody must have kicked me me because I felt it in the back of my heel/ankle.”

If you’ve suffered an injury like this, it’s important for you to see a sports medicine doctor immediately. You can also take our Ankle Quiz.

If you’re healthy and uninjured, be sure to do everything you can to keep it that way. Here’s are some tips to prevent Achilles injuries:

  • Exercise regularly; in other words, don’t jump into a game of full-court basketball after not working out for a year.
  • Wear shoes with a lot of support.
  • Warm up and stretch for 15 minutes before playing.
  • Stretch and stay warm during breaks in the action.

Do you have any questions about the prevention or treatment of Achilles tendon injuries? If so, be sure to let me know in the comments section.

About Brandon Mines, MD:

Dr. Mines has been practicing with Emory since 2005 and specializes in family practice and sports medicine. His areas of clinical interest include ankle, shoulder, hand, knee, sports injuries, upper extremities, and wrist. Dr. Mines holds organizational leadership memberships at the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine.

Dancing Again After a Broken Foot & Torn Achilles Tendon

A few years ago, I treated a delightful young woman, Erin Weller, who broke her foot while rehearsing for a performance in a contemporary dance show. The show was being produced by Crossover Movement Arts, a dance company managed by her significant other, Blake Dalton. Erin’s injury was a simple fracture requiring no surgery—just a cast. Unfortunately, due to the injury she had to drop out of the show, but a few months later she was back to dancing and to studying martial arts with Blake.

Earlier this year, I saw Erin in my office again. She and Blake had recently married, and Erin was still dancing and studying martial arts. She was also working as a communications coordinator with Moving in the Spirit, an organization that teaches dance and life skills to at-risk youth. She was doing good work in the world.

While it was nice to see them both again, the reason for their visit wasn’t so nice. Blake had torn his Achilles tendon after landing badly from a high leap. A 12-year veteran professional dancer with Core Performance Company, a contemporary dance company in Atlanta, Blake makes his living through dance, and he had the kind of injury that could have once ended his career.

Fortunately, we’ve made great advances in the surgical repair of torn Achilles tendons. I was able to repair the tendon, and after a few months of working hard at his physical rehabilitation with our superb physical therapists, Blake recently started performing once again, just in time for the launch of Core’s 30th anniversary season.

Have a look at this video to meet this charming couple and learn more about how Emory Sports Medicine was able to help them get back on the dance floor: