Achilles tendon injuries in a United States population

Foot Ankle Int. 2013 Apr;34(4):475-80. doi: 10.1177/1071100713477621. Epub 2013 Feb 5.


Background: Most studies on Achilles tendon ruptures involved US military or European populations, which may not translate to the general US population. The current study reviews 406 consecutive Achilles tendon ruptures occurring in the general US population for patterns in a tertiary care subspecialty referral setting.

Methods: An institutional review board-approved, retrospective review of the charts of 331 (83%) males (6 bilateral, nonsimultaneous) and 69 (17%) females diagnosed with Achilles tendon ruptures over a 10-year period was undertaken. Average age was 46.4 years with 310 (76%) ruptures diagnosed and managed acutely (less than 4 weeks), whereas 96 (24%) were chronic (more than 4 weeks since the injury). Patients were assessed for mechanism of injury and previously described underlying risk factors. Results were assessed according to age (greater or less than 55 years), body mass index (BMI), and time to diagnosis.

Results: Sporting activity was responsible for 275 ruptures (68%). This was higher in patients younger than 55 years of age (77%) than those older than 55 years (42%). Basketball was the most commonly involved sport, accounting for 132 ruptures (48% of sports ruptures, 32% of all ruptures), followed by tennis in 52 ruptures (13%, 9%), and football in 32 ruptures (12%, 8%). In all, 20 ruptures were reruptures of the same Achilles tendon, of which 17 had previously been treated nonsurgically. In this study, recent quinolone use (2%) and African American race (31%) were not major risk factors for rupture as described in other studies. Older patients and patients with a BMI greater than 30 were more likely to be injured in nonsporting activities and more likely to have their diagnosis initially not recognized resulting in their presentation more than 4 weeks following the injury.

Conclusion: In this study, sports participation was the most common mechanism, but not to the same extent seen in the European or US military studies. Basketball was the most commonly involved sport, as compared to soccer in Europe. Age and BMI had a directly proportional correlation with time to diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Basketball / injuries
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture / epidemiology
  • Soccer / injuries
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult