Achilles Injury and Genetics

achilles injury geneticsIf you’ve ever had an Achilles injury, you know how painful these can be. Oftentimes Achilles injuries are accompanied by extreme pain shooting through the back of the foot and heel, tenderness and swelling. Stiffness, loss of mobility and sometimes popping noises are also typical if you’ve torn or ruptured your Achilles tendon.

This springy tissue located at the back of your ankle, connecting to the muscle in the calf, is responsible for varied movements and flexibility in your foot and ankle. Achilles injuries are extremely painful and have been known to leave athletes and even amateurs on the side lines for many months.

There are certain degrees of tendon injuries one can sustain. In some cases, the tendon might not completely tear or rupture, leaving the tendon partially torn. For those types of injuries, it is suggested to treat with anti-inflammatory medication, ice and lots of rest. When the tendon is completely ruptured, a person might face surgery or casting options to encourage a fast and efficient recovery.

Achilles injuries are most often caused by overuse, miscalculated movements or wearing improper footwear. However, there are several studies being released that acknowledge a connection between genetics and Achilles tendon injuries. The collagen proteins giving the tendons and ligaments their structure and support are produced by various genes. Researchers have found that the some genes may leave individuals with weakened structures that may be unable to repair themselves after injury.

Physicians from the University of Cape Town, located in South Africa, have studied Achilles tendon injuries and the internal predispositions linked to this type of injury. At the Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Dr. Mokone and his colleagues have discovered that the tenascin- C gene is associated with these types of injuries. This gene is mapped with chromosome 9q32-q34, which provides the encoding that it is responsible for the structural components of tendons.

The study conducted at the University of Cape Town demonstrated that subjects possessing 12 and 14 guanine-thymine repeats have a significantly higher result of Achilles injuries than subjects containing 13 and 17 repeats. Because it’s hard to associate a specific injury with a certain variant found in gene, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, says that scientists believe there might be other external factors contributing to these soft-tissue injuries. However, variant genes have been proven to have a direct correlation with soft tissue injuries. This information may help explain why some people may have a tendency towards Achilles injuries.