A warning for weekend warriors: Medical investigators have found male athletes who participate in recreational sports — especially basketball — are more likely than any other group to tear an Achilles tendon.
The injury, which took NBA player Kobe Bryant out of action recently, is three times more common among basketball players than those who play tennis, football, or other sports, according to a new study published in the journal Foot & Ankle International.
The findings, by researchers from the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, are based on a review of 406 records from patients at one clinic diagnosed with Achilles tendon injuries from August 2000 and December 2010. The average age was 46 years old; 83 percent of the patients were males, and sports were responsible for 68 percent of the ruptures.
The most common sports involved were basketball (32 percent of all ruptures), tennis (9 percent), and football (8 percent). Among patients younger than 55 years of age, three-quarters of the ruptures occurred during sports, compared to 42 percent of the patients 55 or older.
Older overweight patients were more likely to have non-sports related injuries and be diagnosed incorrectly at the time of injury.
"Delayed diagnosis and treatment have been shown to result in poorer outcomes," noted Steven Raikin, M.D., of the Rothman Institute and an American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society member. "Older individuals, and those with a higher [body weight], should be evaluated carefully if they have lower leg pain or swelling in the Achilles tendon region."
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