It’s Official – Kalin Lucas Ruptures Achilles Tendon

Posted by jstevrtc on March 22nd, 2010

You knew it from the way he went down on Sunday afternoon, but an MRI confirmed today that star Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas tore his left Achilles tendon in that amazing second round game against Maryland.

The Spartans and their fans have to be wondering what else can happen to this team.  Michigan State’s players have already achieved more than what could have been expected of them, considering the injuries they’ve sustained:  Lucas is the team’s leading scorer and dime-dropper and is known as one of the mentally toughest players in the game.  Delvon Roe was visibly limping in the Maryland game on a right knee that’s already endured one surgery, Chris Allen could only go for four minutes because of a right foot injury he suffered in the first tournament game against New Mexico State, and Raymar Morgan has a busted tooth.

Mutual Support: Izzo and Lucas (AP/Rajah Bose)

If Tom Izzo and his banged-up squad want to get by a Northern Iowa team playing mesmerizing basketball right now, not only do they need more minutes and more production from already hurting players, they also need some serious help from the bench.  Korie Lucious averaged 22 minutes and 5.2 points a game during the season, but played 27 minutes and contributed 13 points including the game-winner on Sunday.  He and Draymond Green are the two Spartans who immediately come to mind as far as who has to really step up now.  Specifically at the guard position, Lucious and Durrell Summers can look forward to playing almost every minute if Allen can’t go.  Junior Mike Kebler (4.0 MPG in 22 games, 0.4 PPG), a former walk-on, played eight minutes against the Terrapins and could see even more time, now.  Derrick Nix (7.8 MPG and 2.5 PPG), a 6’5 and 280-pound freshman, and 6’5 sophomore Austin Thornton (5.7 MPG in 30 games, 1.1 PPG, also a former walk-on) can provide relief minutes at the forward positions; both saw time against Maryland, contributing eight and four points, respectively.

If you’d like to learn more about Lucas’ injury, read on:

As you can see from the picture above, the Achilles tendon is a really taut band that’s just an extension of your calf muscles.  It runs down the back of the lower part of the leg and inserts into the back of the heel.  When your calf muscles flex, the band pulls on the back of the heel and, using the lower leg as kind of a fulcrum, pulls your heel up and moves the rest of your foot down.  In fact, if you squeeze your calf muscles with your hand, you can see/feel your foot make this motion.  You can see pretty easily how this tendon is an important one for athletes, since it’s used every time you run or jump.  It’s also quite a vulnerable area, because it’s near the surface (you can reach down and easily feel your Achilles tendon) and it’s such a tight band.  Even though it’s the toughest and strongest tendon in the body and can endure loads several times your body weight when you walk or run, it’s also the most frequently injured tendon we have.  It doesn’t even have to be a direct hit to the tendon that causes an injury — sometimes you can just land or take off funny and the tendon will tear, either partially or totally.  It looks like that’s what happened with Lucas’ injury.

If you can tell the difference in the black bands in these two pics, then you too can make bundles of cash (and help a lot of people) as a radiologist.

In the MRI pictures above, we’re looking at the foot from the left (top) and the right (bottom).  The patient in the top MRI has a totally normal tendon, which is the black strip at which the arrows are pointing.  The patient at the bottom (this isn’t the same person, and neither of these are Kalin Lucas’ images) has a ruptured Achilles; you can see that the black band is not intact and, in fact, has recoiled a little.  The black squiggle on the left side should be a straight line like it is in the top picture.  If it looks like it hurts, it does!  Patients describe it as feeling like someone either shot or knifed the back of their leg.  You could see the intense, severe pain Lucas was unfortunately feeling when he went to the floor.

These days, we’d say that Lucas (and probably our readers) couldn’t care less about the science and the images, but is understandably more concerned with what this means for his basketball career.  There’s good news and bad news, there.  Sometimes you can treat these things without surgery, but for an athlete like Lucas (and assuming the tendon is completely torn), surgery to re-attach the tendon is probably the best option.  It gives you a lower chance of re-tearing the tendon later on, and the recovery time is usually shorter.  Sometimes, if the surgeon thinks it’s called for as part of the procedure, he/she can take a tendon that you don’t even need from another part of the body, use it to attach the two torn ends, and you wind up with a stronger tendon than you had before!  Still, Lucas has a long recovery time ahead of him.  He’s lucky he’s in such good shape as an athlete, because it can take less well-conditioned patients anywhere from 9-16 months to come back from this type of injury.  All the training he’s put in to keep himself in shape will make surgery go more smoothly, reduce the recovery time he needs, and the initial report is that he’ll be out for 4-6 months.  We love Kalin’s game around here, so we hope he’s back at full strength as soon as possible.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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