The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. Fittingly, it is named after the mythical warrior Achilles, who in Homer’s The Iliad, was dipped into the river Styx by his mother, Thetis, in an attempt to make him invincible. He would become a powerful warrior who won many battles against Greece. However, Thetis held him by his heel, which did not make it into the power-suffusing waters. This ended up being a problem for Achilles during the Trojan War, when an arrow shot from Paris’s bow and guided by the god of the sun, Apollo, pierced Achilles’s heel and revealed his mortality.
The modern-day version of this story has a different cast but very similar results. His mother must have loved him very much because Aaron Rodgers fittingly plays the role of Achilles. He seems to have been imbued with divine power to throw some of the most accurate and timely passes we have ever seen in NFL history. While I haven’t seen any evidence that he dueled Greg Rousseau’s brother, the Buffalo Bills defensive end did shoot his metaphorical arrow at Rodgers for some reason or another. It may have been without any intent to hurt Rodgers and simply to sack the legendary quarterback and force an end to the first drive of the game. In my opinion, Greg Rousseau and his metaphorical arrow were guided by Vince Lombardi, who was enraged when Rodgers made it known that he wanted to leave Lombardi’s beloved Green Bay Packers. Lombardi, the patron god of offensive coaching in the NFL, coached the Packers to five championships in his seven years as their coach. He maintained a postseason winning streak in the ‘60s that lasted until 2006 when it was surpassed by Bill Belichick, the defensive demon who is despised by the fallen heroes of Canton.
But this is not a blog about Greek mythology or NFL history. This is a blog about Achilles tendon ruptures, which are unfortunately very real and are not uncommon in modern times as evidenced by both Aaron Rodgers and J.K. Dobbins suffering from the season-ending injuries last week. These injuries come in several different forms: partial and complete ruptures come in several different subcategories depending on how large the gap is between the two ends of the tendon. The story often goes something like this: a man or woman in their 40s or 50s who is a “weekend warrior” was playing their favorite sport when all of a sudden they felt a snap. They often look behind them to see who just hit them in the leg, but no one is there. They begin to feel the pain and yell at their teammates, “Who just hit me?!” But just like Achilles himself, some kind of divine intervention occurred signaling the end…of their season.
Achilles tendon ruptures can be treated either conservatively or surgically depending on many factors including the nature of the injury and the patient’s activity level, goals, age, and medical conditions. Some patients do benefit from casting and can resume their activities of daily living. While surgery is the best option for regaining strength and function, there is often not a 100% recovery, and some weakness remains. However, this is often done for younger folks and athletes with complete ruptures. Whether you make the wrong move on turf or the basketball court, are tackled by a 300-pound lineman, or are selected for death by the Greek gods themselves, there are treatment options that provide reliable results and functional outcomes. Please call the office for more information or to make an appointment!