NAME: Jim Miller
TEAM: Chicago Bears
INJURY: Torn Achilles tendon
OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED
Ty Detmer, Cleveland Browns; Cameron Cleeland, New Orleans Saints; Shane Burton, New York Jets; Keith Sims, Washington Redskins
Miller is 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds. The 29-year-old is in his seventh season in the pros. He played college ball for Michigan State.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Miller was filling in for injured quarterback Cade McNown in the Bears' 20-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 12. He was in the middle of a run when the injury happened. "I was just running, and it was just a freak thing that happened," he told The Associated Press. "My Achilles tore. Everybody says it feels like you're getting shot or kicked from behind, and that's exactly what it felt like."
The pain and restrictions to movement make it easy to tell that the Achilles tendon has been injured. (Most sufferers cannot walk on tiptoes if they have torn their Achilles tendon.) At the time of injury, people close by often report hearing the tendon snap. An MRI can show a doctor the extent of the tear.
WHAT'S INVOLVED WITH TREATMENT
Sprinting and running in quick bursts are common causes of problems with the Achilles tendon, which stretches from the calf to the heel. Initially, ice can be used to control swelling, and medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen can treat pain. An MRI can confirm if the tendon is torn; this technique uses magnetism and a computer to create images of the injury site. Patients must rest the injured leg. They also might get some relief from using insoles in the shoe to raise the heel and offer some slack to the hurt tendon.
Ruptured Achilles tendons often need surgery, in which the torn ends are reconnected. After the procedure, a doctor usually covers the surgical site with a cast or the patient wears a brace. Either way, the tendon is allowed to heal for up to two months. Then it takes physical therapy to get the leg back into condition again. Sometimes, patients receive just the cast and no surgery, but after the tendon heals, they have a greater chance of reinjuring it.
Wearing supportive athletic shoes and getting a proper warm-up can offer some protection from Achilles tendon injury. Sometimes a player experiences initial soreness or tightness in the heel area, and a quick response with rest, ice, and physical therapy can often prevent further damage. But many times, there is no warning.
Miller is going to miss the rest of the season. Once his injury is repaired, trainers will work with him to get him back to playing shape again.
Football players usually can resume playing as long as they devote the time to rehabilitating the injury. Since Miller is only 29, there should be other seasons for him.