Baltimore Ravens football linebacker Terrell Suggs ruptured his right achilles tendon in 2012 while playing basketball. Miraculously, he came back from injury in just five months and six days after surgery (Mr. Suggs said that his injury was a bit higher up than most achilles tendon injuries, which often mean faster recovery). Besides his fast recovery, Mr. Suggs surprised many with very good 2013 and 2014 seasons. Terrell Suggs leads the Baltimore Ravens in all-time sacks, and is a 6 time Prop Bowl selection (including in 2013 after coming back from injury). He was also the NFL defensive player of the year in 2011.
Unfortunately, a few days ago Mr. Suggs ruptured his left achilles tendon. It is rare for me to feel sympathetic towards a multimillionaire athlete, but I am feeling sorry for Mr. Suggs and his second bout with misfortune. At his current age of almost 33, it is quite likely that his career is over.
A recent article from Canada about B.C. Lions’ linebacker Solomon Elimimian’s achilles tendon rupture has some interesting positive comments about non-surgical conservative repair of achilles tendon ruptures. Although Elimimian is opting for the surgical route, the article states that the B.C. Lions’ receivers coach Khari Jones suffered the same injury several weeks ago while skipping rope, and decided to go the non-surgical route.
The article also mentions fellow Canadian footballer Brady Browne and his successful non-surgical treatment, as shown in his extensive video documentation. Interestingly, the article has the following stats:
Either way, in most cases, there’s not much difference between operative and non-operative. It’s just a percentage kind of thing — 93 per cent versus 98 per cent. Lots of people go non-operative now.
I had never read such a statistic before, but it makes sense. They are basically saying that surgery leads to an athlete getting back to 98 percent of pre-injury strength and flexibility levels, while non-surgical treatment leads to a 93 percent return to fitness. Great to hear that lots of people are now choosing non-operative treatment of achilles tendon ruptures.
Dr. Kevin Stone is a well respected orthopedic surgeon and on this site’s protocols for achilles tendon rupture rehabilitation page, I include one protocol that I found on his website. A few days ago, Dr. Stone published an informative article on achilles tendon ruptures in the Huffington Post. Some key items of interest:
- According to one study, women have more elastic achilles tendons compared to men. This may be one reason behind women’s reduced rates of achilles tendon tears in comparison to men.
- Surgical repair is “almost always” recommended in the US, while non-operative healing is more common in other countries. This has been common knowledge for a while, but I think more and more surgeons in the US are also recommending non-surgical to at least a small minority of their patients.
- Dr. Stone recommends percutaneous repair of the ruptured achilles tendon .
- The post-operative recovery program “has become more aggressive over time, with earlier range-of-motion and weight-bearing exercises than ever before.”
- I found it interesting that the healing process is nowadays “augmented by injections of growth factors and/or stem cells, both at the time of surgery and during the recovery program.”