Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Ruptures Achilles Tendon

By Dr. Loren Colon DPM, FACFAS

He’s done for the season but will Kobe Bryant return or retire?

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant injured his left Achilles tendon while driving to the rim against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. Bryant said the initial injury felt as if he’d been kicked in the back of his left leg, which is typical for an Achilles injury. An MRI confirmed that Kobe suffered a Grade 3 rupture of his left Achilles tendon.

The Achilles tendon is a large band of fibrous tissue in the back of the ankle that connects the triceps surae to the back of your calcaneus. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body. An Achilles tendon rupture usually occurs 2-6cm superior to the calcaneus in a region called the watershed area.

A Grade 3 Achilles tendon rupture is a medical diagnosis that is evaluated, managed and usually treated surgically by podiatrists. It is often diagnosed clinically by having the patient lie in the prone position while the physician is squeezing the calf muscle. If there is absence of plantar flexion of the foot with palpation of the calf using the Thompson test, then an Achilles tendon rupture is probable. This clinical diagnosis is confirmed with an MRI. The surgical treatment protocol involves using a special technique called Bunnell suture pattern to re-approximate the torn segment of the tendon to allow it to mesh together. Recovery time is 6-8 weeks in a non weightbearing below knee cast with crutches followed by 4-6 months of physical therapy.

Regardless of the caliber of the player like Kobe Bryant, when you combined his age with this injury, the thought is that there is no return, that the player will be a shell of their former self. For an athlete like Kobe Bryant this may just be his true test of resiliency to see if he can return to the court and be the same dominant player.

If you or a family member have suffered a sports injury, call to make an appointment with your local Atlanta area podiatrist at American Foot and Leg Specialists.