Quarterback Aaron Rodgers made his regular season debut with the New York Jets on Monday but it seems his season will be extremely short-lived after hetore his Achilles tendon, the NFLconfirmedon Tuesday. Here’s what that injury means and what recovery may look like.
What happened to Aaron Rodgers?
Rodgers, 39, was tackled by the Buffalo Bills’ Leonard Floyd about five minutes into their season opener. Still holding the football, the quarterback tried to run from the defensive end but was brought down to the turf by Floyd.
Afterward, Rodgers appeared to be OK and stood up. But he soon sat down on the field and was helped to the sidelines. An MRI revealed a tear in his Achilles tendon,CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reported Tuesday morning.
What is an Achilles tendon rupture?
The Achilles tendon is located in the back of the lower leg near the heel. Achilles injuries most commonly occur during sports, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, anyone can tear their Achilles tendon – which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone – if the tendon is overstretched.
When an Achilles tendon ruptures, you may hear a popping sound. It may feel like a sharp pain, as if you were kicked in the back of the calf, and you may not be able to bend your foot downward or walk on your toes.
While athletes commonly tear their Achilles tendon while playing sports, the injury can also happen if someone falls or steps into a hole, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When the tendon ruptures, the break is usually about 2.5 inches above the heel.
Recovery for Achilles tendon injury
The area above the heel has poor blood flow, which can slow the ability to heal, according to the Mayo Clinic. The tendon is used pretty much any time you move your foot, and doctors typically use the so-called “Thompson Test” to see if the Achilles has ruptured. If they squeeze the calf muscle and the foot doesn’t move, that likely means the tendon is no longer attached to the muscle,according to the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Doctors may use an X-ray, ultrasound or, as was the case for Rodgers, an MRI to determine if the injury has occurred.
Recovery usually takes 8 to 10 weeks with a cast or brace as well as with four to six months of physical therapy, according to the hospital’s site. Active people, like athletes, may get surgery to repair the tendon to ensure it is appropriately healed and strength is restored.
“High-performance athletes with a torn Achilles tendon are almost always treated with surgery to provide a stronger tendon that is less likely to re-rupture,” the hospital said, adding that nonsurgical treatment is usually determined based on a patient’s level of activity, age and other conditions. Orthopedic surgeons can help patients make these decisions for or against surgery.
It is unclear yet if Rodgers will get surgery to fix the tear, but the injury will be season-ending, according to the NFL.
In surgery, a small incision is typically made and a tendon grafted from another area of the body may be used to fix the ruputure and reconnect the Achilles. There is also a minimally invasive approach with an even smaller incision, according to the hospital.
In order to try and prevent such injuries, stretching and warming up before activities could be useful, as well as cooling down afterward, according to the hospital. Mixing up workouts so that you don’t over use the tendon could also help.