Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek Rupture’s Achilles tendon While Chasing Thief

If you were playing Jeopardy and this answer came up……This 71 year old game show host recently ruptured his Achilles tendon while chasing a burglar.  The correct response would be ‘Who is Alex Trebek?’ This incident occurred last week while he was in California to host the National Geographic World Championship. He is already on the road to recovery as he was scheduled to have surgery to repair this a few days ago.Since this has been all over the evening news and papers, we thought it a good time to talk about injuring the Achilles tendon, what to do, and how it is repaired.


The heel cord, or Achilles tendon, is the combination of tendons from muscles in the back of your leg which insert on your heel bone.  Often times they can become irritated from overuse and can become inflamed.  A recent injury is most likely a tendonitis, or inflammation, and can respond well to conservative care.  Untreated or long standing tendonitis can lead to a tendinosis, or damaged tendon. This damaged tendon may or may not be painful but lacks normal tissues and function.  The damaged tendon is weakened and more likely to incur small microtears.  An Achilles tendon rupture often results when the weakened tendon combined with a quick movement, like chasing burglars in the middle of the night, which causes the tendon to completely tear.  A full tear is followed by an inability to walk normal and requires surgical care.


If you have noticed pain in the back of you heel, a visit with your Austin podiatrist can help it from becoming a bigger problem.  A visit with Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists will help identify your foot and ankle structure.  When identified early, tendonitis can be successfully treated with anti-inflammatory medication and rest.  In addition to resting the tendon, stretching and strengthening will help to keep it from reoccurring.  When tendinosis has been present for a long time, conservative bracing and custom orthosis is not be enough to correct it, especially in the case of a tear.  A complete tear requires reattachment of the ends of tendon with suture material.  If the tear is closer to the insertion, surgical anchors are used to fix the tendon in the heel bone.  Whenever surgery is required, there is a long course of heeling.  By being proactive about your foot and ankle health you can avoid Achilles ruptures.


Until next time, keep those feet and ankles healthy and happy Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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