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Podiatry in Sports: Raiders guard Menelik Watson’s injury, treatment and recovery

The Oakland Raiders received some unfortunate news on the eve of their 2015 campaign when it was announced that starting right tackle Menelik Watson would miss the entire upcoming season after rupturing his Achilles tendon during a 30-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

“He was having a great camp for us and really playing well,” Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio told the SFGate. “Good young man. He’ll bounce back, but big setback.”

A second-round pick (42nd overall) of the Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft, Watson started nine games last year and was projected to the be Week 1 starter at right tackle in Oakland this year.

“I will be back stronger than ever that’s a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “To the Raider Nation I love you so much. There is NO I mean NO fanbase like ours. Thank you for all the support.”

While it’s more than likely that Watson will return to the field at some point next season, there’s no guarantee that he will be able to play at the same level he once did. Once an Achilles tendon ruptures, it is usually never back to 100 percent again. In a recent medical study, it was discovered that 36% of NFL or NBA players sustaining an Achilles tendon rupture never return to pro sports, and those who do usually take about a year before they are playing competitively. Additionally, players who do return typically have a decrease in their power of about 50% and only play for an average of 3-4 more seasons.

So what lies ahead for Watson in his road back to the gridiron?

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, has dealt with numerous Achilles-related injuries throughout his lengthy tenure in medicine and has offered some insight into what Watson’s recovery process may be like.

“A lot depends on where the tear is,” said Dr. Goldbaum, whose main office is located in Delray Beach, Florida. “Did it come off the bone? Did it go a few centimeters above the bone? Was it a complete rupture? Was it a partial rupture?

“In young, healthy athletes, the tendency to heal from surgical procedures is the best there is for any human body. The post-operative care is critical. The physical therapy is critical. But a healthy return is very possible.”

As for physical therapy, Dr. Goldbaum expects the process to be long and arduous.

“They’ll do passive therapy and then go to active therapy,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “He’ll likely spend 8-12 in weeks in a cast without any movement followed by 2-3 weeks of partial weight-bearing movement and then full weight-bearing movement for an additional 2-3 weeks after that.”

Achilles tendons tear when the load an athlete places on it exceeds the amount it can withstand. In Watson’s case, the cause of the injury is directly linked to his position as it was likely caused by the strain from repeatedly pushing forward into opposing players by standing on the toes and driving the heel to the ground. When the tendon ruptures, a pop or snap can sometimes be heard, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back the ankle and lower leg.

While there are non-surgical treatments available, surgery is often the best option to repair an Achilles tendon rupture as it can reduce the risk of re-injury. The surgical procedure generally involves making an incision in the back of your lower leg and stitching the torn tendon together. In some cases, a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection might also be used to expedite the healing process. PRP is plasma that contains more platelets than what is typically found in blood. These platelets contain hundreds of proteins called “growth factors” which are very important in the healing of injuries. This process has become especially popular in recent years with famous athletes like Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal using PRP to treat their injuries.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472




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