About 230,000 people injure their Achilles tendon each year in the U.S., and that number is on the rise. Anyone can suffer from this injury, but there are some factors that put you at more risk.
Forty-six-year-old Pamela Schaffrath knew she had a problem when she made a quick jump during a recreational basketball game.
“I felt like I got hit in the back of the foot with a bat,” said Schaffrath.
The sports enthusiast played basketball and pro football until she tore her Achilles, the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It’s the largest tendon in the body, and can experience forces up to 12.5 times your weight during running. Doctors are seeing more of these injuries than ever. So who’s at risk?
“The conditions that cause that unfortunately include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, exposure to steroids,” shared George B. Holmes, Jr., MD, a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.
The prime age for an Achilles tendon rupture is 30 to 40. You’re also more at risk if you wear high heel shoes, don’t stretch, don’t warm up before exercise, or over-train. Studies show the use of certain antibiotics and steroids may also up your chances. Treatments can include surgical procedures to repair the tendon, bracing, icing, anti-inflammatory meds, and strengthening or stretching exercises. Schaffrath had surgery and is ready to get back in the game … any game!
Achilles injuries are more common in sports where there’s a lot of speeding up and slowing down, such as football, pickleball, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and running.