A new study conducted by researchers from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Rothman Institute of Jefferson Medical College discussed two important issues based on past findings by other researchers:
- Around 25 percent of achilles tendon ruptures are missed during initial inspection and consultation.
- Conservative treatment is usually sufficient to treat acute achilles tendon ruptures. In younger athletes, surgery usually leads to slightly better outcomes with fewer instances of re-rupture. However, for most people, non-surgical treatment is sufficient and leads to favorable results.
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.
Related to the prior blog post regarding the increasing popularity of non-surgical treatment of achilles tendon ruptures in Sweden, researchers in Finland published an article with similar findings in October 2013. The key item of interest regarding surgery:
The highest rates occurred in 2008 in men and 2007 in women, and since then the decrease has been 42% in men and 55% in women.
This is quite amazing, since the reduction in surgical treatment happened in just three (2008-2011) years for men, and in just four years (2007-2011) for women.
It should also be noted that the increases in surgeries from the 1987 through 2007/2008 mentioned in the study are probably due to increasing activity of the elderly as well as an overall increase in the older population due to higher life expectancies. This phenomenon of an increasingly older (and active) population is true in most developed countries.