Beloved Jeopardy host Alex Trebek injured his Achilles tendon while chasing a burglar. We discuss his Achilles injury treatment options.
For some reason, I was not shocked to hear that the Jeopardy host, Alex Trebek took matters into his own hands when his San Francisco hotel room was burglarized late Wednesday night. It was around 2:30 am, Trebek and his wife were asleep, when accused burglar Lucinda Moyers, 56 of San Francisco, awoke Trebek while fleeing the room. Trebek gave chase, and while varying accounts say he either tore, ruptured, or in some cases "snapped" his Achilles, it is clear that the Jeopardy host injured his tendon badly enough to need crutches while hosting the National Geographic World Championship. Cash and a bracelet gifted to Trebek by his mother were among the items stolen, and while the cash was recovered, the cherished bracelet remains missing.
Trebek announced at the National Geographic World Championship that he required surgery and would be in a cast for a period of about 6 weeks. I've spoken to the podiatrists and medical assistants here at Atlantic Foot & Ankle and they agree if surgery is required, the injury is most likely a rupture of the tendon. So you may ask yourself, "What exactly is the difference between a tear and a rupture?"
"In a tear, the tendon still retains some integrity. I don't recommend surgeries for tears." says Dr. Melissa Robitaille, founder and co-owner of Atlantic Foot & Ankle. "I would recommend a non-weight bearing cast in the plantar-flex position (that's toes pointing down for you non-podiatrists out there) for about three weeks. Then I would move the patient to a weight baring walking boot and recommend physical therapy."
A rupture, unfortunately, can be a much longer and more grueling recovery process.
"We would have to repair the tendon in surgery, and cast it for 3-4 weeks. The patient could experience swelling for up to 6 months, along with chronic weakness. Physical therapy would be totally necessary to help regain the lost strength of the tendon."
"For me, tear and rupture describe the same injury - in other words, there has been damage to the tendon." said Dr. Todd Newsom.
"The real issue is whether that tear or rupture is complete or only partial. A partial tear or rupture of the Achilles typically does not require surgery. It's usually best to treat with conservative measures (e.g. casting alone).
"If the tear or rupture is complete, that is a different decision entirely." said Newsom. "There's actually quite a debate whether one should have surgery or conservative treatment for a complete rupture. Many factors including severity, age, occupation and other health risks can all be used to determine which treatment plan would be best."
It looks like the road to recovery for the 71 year old Trebek may be a long one. His surgery is scheduled for Friday. Trebek plans to continue taping Jeopardy with the aid of crutches in the weeks to follow. Everyone at Atlantic Foot & Ankle wishes the beloved game show host a speedy and successful recovery.
You can read more about the Achilles Tendon here.