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Soccer's David Beckham Has Surgery for Achilles Tendon Tear


David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy ruptured his Achilles’ tendon Sunday, March 14 while playing for AC Milan in Italy and will have surgery in Finland by specialist surgeon Dr. Sakari Orava. The injury will likely keep Beckham from playing in the World Cup set to begin June 11 in South Africa.

Beckham, 34, was injured toward the end of the game on Sunday.

The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel (calcaneus) to the calf muscles in the lower leg. It is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body and enables actions such as walking, running, jumping and standing on the toes. It was named after the ancient Greek hero of the Trojan war who was invulnerable except for one spot on his heel. Unlike many other tendons, the Achilles does not have a true tendon sheath and has a relatively poor blood supply.

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Approximately 230,000 Achilles tendon injuries occur each year in the United States. Injuries can be caused by overuse, sudden increases in training, misalignment (unequal leg length or over/under pronation), improper footwear, or accident or trauma. The two most common injuries are Achilles tendinosis and Achilles tendon rupture.

Tendinosis is a soreness and stiffness of the tendon that comes on gradually and continues to worsen until treated. It is a common injury among middle and long distance runners. Achilles ruptures come on suddenly, most often caused by a sudden and forceful motion. They occur most often in sports such as basketball, racket sports, soccer, and softball. A tendon rupture is usually accompanied by a popping sound, pain, and a sudden loss of strength and movement. A gap or depression may also be felt and seen about 2 inches above the heel bone. Beckham was said to feel the calf muscle retract, which is also another common symptom.

A complete tear in the Achilles tendon usually requires surgery to suture the ends of the tendon back together. After surgery, there is usually a lower incidence of re-rupture. Weight bearing commonly begins at about 6 weeks with a heel support. A return to athletics is traditionally about 4 to 6 months, but with rigorous therapy , elite athletes may return as early as 3 months after injury.

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said that Beckham will probably be out of professional soccer for about five or six months, but Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said it was really too early to tell.

Dr. Orava is optimistic that he Beckham will make a full recovery. “Top athletes usually heal well, but it’s a few months until you are back at the same level as you were before. Most of these patients come back at the same level, even in a top soccer player.”



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