I’ll take Achilles Tendon Rupture for $500 Alex!

Although 2011 was not the year for an Ohio student to take home the win at the National Geographic World Championships, the event was certainly very exciting for all students participating from around the globe.  The championships were made even more interesting this year when host Alex Trebek of Jeopardy hosting fame limped in to the set with a torn Achilles and a wild story of how he sustained the injury.

At 2:30 a.m. the previous night, a woman broke into Trebek’s hotel room and supposedly attempted to steal $650 and a bracelet of Trebek’s that his mother had given him.  What happened next would deter anyone from messing with the game show host’s belongings again! Trebek awoke to his door being open and immediately began to chase the burglar!  Although the thief was eventually caught and charged with burglary, Trebek unfortunately ruptured or ripped his Achilles tendon in the heat of the chase.

The Achilles tendon is the largest and also the most commonly ruptured tendon in the body.  The Achilles connects your calf muscles to the back of your heel and is crucial for normal walking and almost every other athletic activity.  Overuse of the calf muscles, a sudden increase in physical activity especially after a period of rest or inappropriate shoe gear can lead to Achilles tendonitis or a ruptured Achilles.  Serious Achilles tendonitis can occur for an extended period of time leaving the tendon irritated and making a rupture more likely.  With tendinitis, the heel pain comes and goes or may be chronically located in the same spot, pain is often noted during or a few hours after athletic activities, and ankle stiffness will decrease as the tendon warms up during use.  These symptoms and onset are different from the ruptured Achilles that Trebek suffered which is a more acute injury, resulting in the tendon quickly being severed.  The onset of severe heel pain is more immediate with a substantial amount of swelling often being present.  Trebek’s rupture likely occurred due to his sudden change from inactivity of the leg muscles while sleeping to a full out sprint trying to catch the thief.

Because the Achilles is such an important tendon in the body, it is important to talk to your podiatrist about how to keep it healthy.  Many people have stiff calf muscles that lack flexibility and can increase the likelihood of Achilles injury.  When the calves are too tight, the foot is unable to lift off enough to clear the ground during normal walking and the feet are forced to use other means to compensate.  One of the ways of compensating is by overpronating, which can lead to a group of other foot problems including the development of flat feet.  Regular stretching is one way to increase flexibility and care for your Achilles.

Trebek has now undergone Achilles surgery to repair his tear and hopefully will not have to chase down any criminals any time soon while he recovers!

Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia