IMG_3953Experts, including the National Institutes of Health, agree that Achilles injuries are on the rise. This is due in part to Achilles tendon overuse, common in athletes who play sports that require quick, sudden movements, such as basketball, hockey, volleyball or gymnastics. This condition is also very common in middle-aged athletes who compete as ‘weekend warriors’ and have stopped using prevention techniques. When an Achilles tendon rupture occurs, patients say it feels as though someone kicked them in the lower part of the calf or back of the leg. Obesity has also been shown to contribute to Achilles injuries.

Doctors at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush are treating more Achilles tendonitis and ruptures than ever. The practice’s foot and ankle surgeons report that over a ten year time period (2005-2015), the number of Achilles injury patients increased by 450 percent. These physicians often have different approaches to treatment, depending on a patient’s type of Achilles injury and its severity. They may recommend a conservative (non-surgical) treatment, surgical treatment or a combination of both. In all cases, it is important to have an Achilles injury treated immediately by an orthopedic specialist.

To address this issue, MOR physicians recommend a stretching and strengthening program as part of a regular workout routine.

Woman's foot pressing the gas pedal.

Return to Driving after Achilles injuries

For patients recuperating from Achilles injuries on the right side, one of the most frustrating tasks is returning to driving. For many, that means a loss of independence and an inability to return to work.  It is currently unknown how much healing time it takes for patients to get back on the road safely. MOR foot and ankle physicians hope to change that.

They are conducting a study of Achilles patients from three to six months post-injury to assess driving reaction times. The study uses a driving simulator which includes a brake, gas pedal and a steering wheel, all connected to a computer program. Researchers are hoping to determine when patients achieve full range of motion to brake and accelerate.