It is interesting how myths and legends can be intertwined with real life. For example, the Achilles tendon is linked to the myth of Achilles’ heel. In Greek mythology, Achilles was the child of the mortal Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, and his mother was a sea nymph named Thetis. His mother wanted to protect her child, so she dipped him in the River Styx, which had special powers. His entire body became invulnerable, except for his heels by which Thetis held him when she immersed him in the magic waters. This was his vulnerability and his undoing when he was a great warrior. To this day, we speak of vulnerability as the “Achilles’ heel”.
Injuries to the Achilles Tendon
The muscles in your calf are attached to your heel bone by the Achilles tendon. This fibrous cord is critical for walking. It allows for up and down foot movement and makes it possible for you to push off your foot as you walk. If it is overstretched, it can be partially torn or ruptured, or it could snap completely.
There are various causes for injury to the Achilles tendon. A sudden increase on the stress of the tendon is usually the cause of tearing. For example, if you step into a hole unexpectedly or fall from a height, the tendon is over-stressed. People who participate in sports that involve jumping often have problems with the Achilles tendon.
Injuries to the Achilles tendon seem to peak for people who are in their 30s, and men seem more vulnerable to injury than women. Soccer, basketball and tennis have the highest rates for injuries of this type. Also, weight can be a factor. More strain on the tendon occurs with obesity.
Surgical repair of the Achilles tendon is often the most effective treatment for ruptures. This is particularly true for athletes. An injury to this tendon can sideline you for a season, and if not properly addressed, can be a career-ending event.
Advanced orthopedic care is available from Jonathan Glashow, MD, Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine. Cutting-edge techniques are used for optimal recovery. Contact us to schedule an evaluation appointment for your sports injuries.