On Friday Kobe Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon, the most important tendon for a jump shot. He underwent surgery to repair his Achilles but will his jump shot be the same? Well, that all depends on the extent of his injury.
As a reconstructive foot surgeon, I can tell you that Achilles surgery "repair" is not as straightforward as the media seems to suggest. Most of the time, the Achilles tendon ruptures in a consistent pattern -- the surgery is straightforward as well as the rehabilitation. Sometimes the repair can be complex and can alter the surgical plan, recovery, and prognosis.
There are three surgical scenarios, based on where the Achilles tendon rupture occurs:
1) Centrally in the mid-substance of the tendon: This is the most common Achilles Rupture. Here the tendon fibers separate and shred -- surgeons know this a mop-end rupture because the tendon actually looks like a mop. There is ruptured tendon on both sides of the tendon.
Achilles Repair Surgery is usually straightforward. Surgeons use super strong suture in special weaving techniques to 'bunch up' and tie the tendon ends back together. Some surgeons use minimally invasive techniques but the basis of the surgery is the same.
Watch Achilles Tendon Surgery Video -- click here.
2) Pulled off the heel bone: Here the Achilles is pulled off the heel bone. Surgery in this case is different because the tendon needs to be bolted back onto the heel bone. Small bone anchors (along with suture) are used to secure the tendon back to the bone.
3) Shredded at the muscle-tendon junction: In this scenario, the Achilles tendons separates from the muscle a bit higher up behind the ankle. it is more challenging to repair the Achilles tendon when it's torn away from the muscle.
Recovery after Achilles tendon repair: It takes 6-8 weeks for the tendon to mend and another 2 months of physical therapy. Most surgeons today initiate an early mobilization program so long as the repair is strong, which gets people mobilized much quicker.
Will Kobe Get His Jump Shot back?
Hopefully for the extraordinary superstar Kobe Bryant, he had an ordinary Achilles tendon rupture and that the repair was straightforward. The good news for Kobe, is that Achilles tendon ruptures tendon tend to recover excellently. The bad news for Kobe, is that overdoing the physically therapy can stretch out his Achilles repair and weaken his calf muscle -- putting his jump shot at risk. While Kobe has a history of powering through injuries, an Achilles rupture is not one of those injuries where pushing too hard is a good thing.
To learn more about Dr. Neal Blitz, please visit www.BunionSurgeryNY.com