The Impact and Functional Outcomes of Achilles Tendon Pathology in National Basketball Association Players

Clin Res Foot Ankle. 2016 Sep;4(3):205. doi: 10.4172/2329-910X.1000205. Epub 2016 Sep 23.


Achilles tendon rupture within professional athletes has been shown to lead to devastating consequences regarding return to athletic performance. Not only can this devastating injury affect performance for the remainder of player's career, it frequently becomes a career-ending event. Considering these significant risks associated with complete rupture, the purpose of this study was to evaluate NBA players with a spectrum of reported Achilles tendon pathology, from tendinopathy (insertional and non-insertional) to complete rupture. Between the 1988-1989 and 2010-2011 NBA seasons, we identified 43 cases of Achilles tendon pathology treated non-operatively. A control group was matched for the players able to return to play with the following parameters: age, position played, number of seasons played in the league, and similarly rated career performance statistics. Considering the medical staff, trainers and facilities available to a professional athlete, a "weekend warrior" should be counseled that even in optimal conditions, 14% of NBA players were unable to return to function/play after Achilles tendinopathy, and that those who were able to return did so at a decreased level of performance. In conclusion, players with Achilles tendinopathy have a better chance to return if they are younger in age and early in their professional career. Furthermore, the association between Achilles pathology and decline in player performance is an important message to convey to coaching staff and team management to allow properly informed decisions when these conditions arise.