The achilles tendon is often injured during sports resulting in an inflammatory condition called tendonitis which is characterized by swelling and pain. The tendon ruptures because of weakened tendons due to advanced age or from sudden bursts of activity during sports. The classic symptom of an Achilles Tendon rupture is the inability to rise up on your toes.
Introducing the first-ever mascot specialist doctor at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush – the one and only Benny The Bull!
Episode 17.02 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.
Segment One: Katie Varnado from ATI Physical Therapy talks about the responsibilities and qualifications for Athletic Trainers, the difference between pro & non-pro team trainers, the importance of having High School Trainers and how to promote their use.
Katie Varnado is a certified and licensed athletic trainer who is passionate about educating others about concussions, growth plate injuries in athletes, and the need for athletic trainers. In her role as Sports Medicine Director at ATI Physical Therapy, she oversees and provides guidance to the athletic trainers ATI provides to local high schools and colleges and ensures all athletes are receiving comprehensive care to return to sport as quickly and safely as possible.
Katie received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a concentration in athletic training from Illinois State University. She then went on to earn a prestigious year long sports medicine fellowship at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, CO. Katie has over fourteen years of experience working with both collegiate and high school athletics as well as working with physicians.
Segment Two: Steve and Dr. Cole discuss the various types of elbow injuries, causes and treatments. Dr. Cole describes the many new and interesting advancements in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy – the future of research and applications.
“I heard a ‘bang’ and then felt as if someone stomped on the back of my left calf, slamming me down to the court. But, when I looked up, both the basketball and the other players were all several feet away staring at me. That’s when I knew I likely had a serious problem.”
This is how Ganesh Sundaram, 31, of Chicago, describes the incident that left him with a ruptured left Achilles tendon earlier this year. “I was playing with a bunch of friends on the weekend and went up for a rebound. Then, I quickly reversed my direction to get back on defense,” he explains. “I later found out that this rapid deceleration followed by acceleration and change of direction is a common cause of injury to the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel.”
He felt numbness, then pain as he limped off the court. He went directly to the nearest emergency department where the physician on duty conducted the Thompson test to determine whether or not his Achilles tendon was intact. After his foot hung loosely when his calf was squeezed, the physician told him it was most likely a full rupture and should see a foot and ankle specialist right away. Sundaram, at the suggestion of his brother-in- law (a Chicago-area physician), made an appointment with Dr. Simon Lee of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Dr. Lee, an expert in treating Achilles injuries, confirmed the diagnosis and presented options for both surgical and non-surgical repair of his tendon.
Given Sundaram’s very active lifestyle which included a regular fitness and full-court basketball regimen, Tough Mudder/Spartan races and keeping up with his toddler son, he chose surgery given the higher likelihood of returning to full pre-injury function, strength and mobility. They also discussed the warning signs that Sundaram experienced several months earlier. After running in high heat while dehydrated and on vacation, Sundaram felt stiffness and pain in his left Achilles tendon when getting up after a long flight home.
Concerned, he took a rest from running, jumping and basketball for a few weeks but maintained the rest of his fitness regimen. He then resumed these activities once he felt minimal discomfort, but didn’t do any pre-activity stretching or warming up and he didn’t see a physician. Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush foot and ankle physicians explain that this scenario is becoming more and more common in their practices. “Over a recent ten-year period, we have seen our number of Achilles patients increase by almost 300 percent,” explains Dr. Lee.
So many more people are participating in extreme sports, like Tough Mudders, marathons and Spartan Races. They aren’t stretching or strengthening their Achilles tendons properly – or at all. We also see lots of weekend warriors who do the same thing.
For both types of athletes, Dr. Lee and his fellow foot and ankle physicians created a useful resource for athletes to keep their ankles and tendons healthy called ‘Ankles for Life’. It includes injury prevention tips in both a downloadable brochure and video format. It was developed in conjunction with the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association. Sundaram, who is now back to basketball and working out, knows that he should have listened to his body when he had heel pain several months before the rupture.
“Dr. Lee told me that surgeons have a saying that ‘healthy tendons don’t rupture’. Mine was irritated or maybe even partially torn at the time and I should have attended to it earlier,” he says. Sundaram now incorporates lower body and heel stretching and strengthening into his routine before any sports activity – and encourages all athletes to do so.
For more information on preventing Achilles injuries and to request a gym bag tag with ankle injury prevention tips, visit the Ankles for Life website.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Simon Lee to discuss your foot or ankle condition, click here or call 877-MD- BONES.
Our foot and ankle complex needs to be both dynamic and stable to allow for us to walk without stressing other areas in the body. The ankle may seem like a simple joint, but there are actually four bones that combine to provide the stability and motion necessary – tibia, fibular, talus, and calcaneus. The rest of the foot consists of multiple smaller bones that each must be able to withstand the movement and stress placed on it by the weight of our body. Your ankle is also an integral part of your daily function, as it is responsible for your ability to drive a car, climb stairs, and squat. If you suffer an injury to your foot/ankle it will likely become increasingly difficult to perform your normal activities without pain. The more knowledge we have regarding prevention and common causes of injuries, the better our chances are to avoid future injury.
Unfortunately, with the complexity of the foot/ankle joints it is often difficult to isolate a singular cause of injury. As with other body parts, increasing age leads to increased risk of injury from general wear and tear. After the ankle is injured there is a high likelihood that you can suffer another injury due to remaining deficits and/or poor healing.
- Overuse (Chronic) Injuries – With age and use cartilage can wear down and the ligaments, muscles, and tendons can become damaged.
- Sudden (Acute) Injuries – During a fall or other injury, the bones of the foot/ankle can be fractured. You can also have ligament tears and ruptures of the tendons.
Foot/ankle pain can be caused by any one of these common conditions:
- Adult Acquired Flat Feet (Fallen Arches) – Fallen arch, or flatfoot, is known medically as pes planus. This is characterized as a loss in arch height in the foot. There are many causes of this disorder, but among the most common is decreased muscular strength. The muscles in the foot and ankle are required to help support the arch and if the weaken the arch can collapse
- Bone Fracture – There are multiple bones in the foot/ankle that can break and each needs to be managed differently. Most will require a period of not putting weight through the foot to allow for healing.
- Metatarsalgia – Athletes who run and jump a lot may be susceptible to metatarsalgia, a type of foot injury that results in pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Affecting nearly 2 million Americans each year, Plantar Fasciitis is when there is an inflammation of the thick band of ligament that extends from the bottom of the heel to the toes (primarily the big toe).
- Calcaneal Bursitis – In the heel, bursitis may cause bruise-like pain mostly on the bottom of the heel, but also at the back of the heel. This pain is most often felt at the end of the day, especially for people who spend much of their time on their feet.
Kurt Gengenbacher, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, CSCS a Regional Director of Clinical Excellence, gives us some tips to help prevent and rehabilitate foot/ankle injuries:
- Stay Flexible – Make sure to stretch your calves daily. Hold those stretches for at least 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
- Keep Your Foot Strong – Focus on functionally strengthening your foot. The foot must be able to assist in stabilizing the body while standing, so the best exercises are often in a standing position. Try to perform appropriate balancing tasks, standing toe crunches, heel raises, and toe raises.
- Avoid Overtraining – Make sure you vary your exercises and don’t always do the same thing. If you have pain after exercising, stop the activity, rest, ice and elevate your leg.
If you have pain in your foot/ankle that isn’t going away, rehabilitation is a great step to take to improve your functionality. During rehabilitation:
- A Strong Foot Is A Healthy Foot – Working on strength in the small muscles of the foot (intrinsics) can help your ability to walk barefoot and on uneven surfaces.
- Be Balanced – Work on dynamic balance exercises to improve your proprioception and ability to stay upright.
- Don’t Let Tightness Be Your Achilles Heel – Stretching your ankles can help to improve your ability to go down stairs and squat.
- Stay On Your Toes – Strengthening of your calf muscles can help to improve your ability to walk, run, and climb stairs.
- Wear Proper Footwear – It is important to provide appropriate support to your foot.
When weighing your treatment options for foot pain and injuries, consider physical therapy. Physical therapy offers a wide variety of treatment options including strengthening, stretching, and sustainable home exercise programs. Stop in or call any ATI location for a complimentary injury screen or to learn more about how physical therapy can help you overcome your foot pain.
We’re all familiar with the term ‘clean eating’ and know how important it is to eat the right foods in the right balance, no matter what our eating regime or diet plan is. But what if this turns into an obsession that becomes out of control? Experts are now seeing a distinct rise in the number of people suffering from a condition called Orthorexia Nervosa and with it, a fixation on so called ‘self-righteous eating’.
Someone with this condition will become obsessed with the quality and purity of their food, they may avoid eating out, or anything that anyone else other than themselves has touched.
Whatever diet plan or eating regime you’re following, whether young or old, getting the right balance of nutrients is important in maintaining good health for everyone.
However, the Orthorexia sufferer will go the opposite way and become very restricted in the types of foods they will eat – often turning to a raw food diet, or one that restricts many forms of good quality proteins and micronutrients needed for healthy living. Jordan Younger, blogger and founder of ‘The Balanced Blonde’ was one such sufferer, whose vegan diet became so restrictive that her periods stopped and she became fearful of eating anything with protein in it, calling eggs her ‘fear food’.
The Orthorexic Diet
As we’ve seen, despite their obsession with health and clean living, the diet of the Orthorexic can be very lacking. The condition also spills out into other areas of life too, meaning that the sufferer may become very socially isolated, withdrawn or depressed. As their obsession increases, their physical health will suffer too, with women reporting that their periods cease, their hair starts to fall out and their teeth and nails become brittle and break easily.
Side Effects of the Condition
Sufferers may end up unaware or unable to identify any of their own physical feelings towards food:
- They may not recognize when they are hungry
- They may not recognize when they are full
- If they fall off the wagon and eat anything they consider to be impure, their urges to become stricter in only eating pure food will grow stronger
Treatment for more severe cases of the condition can involve inpatient therapy and counseling, combined with anti-anxiety medications and an eating plan that will slowly reintroduce missing nutrients, proteins and minerals into the diet that have previously been cut out. It’s a highly treatable illness that has a good recovery rate.
Contributed by Jess Walter, Freelance Writer