Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beckham's World Cup hopes dashed

HELSINKI: Former England captain David Beckham will undergo surgery at a Finnish hospital on Monday afternoon on a ruptured Achilles tendon that looks set to rule him out of the World Cup.

"He will arrive in the afternoon, between 3:00 and 4:00 pm (1300-1400 GMT)," orthopedic surgeon Sakari Orava told AFP.

England manager Fabio Capello said he had spoken to Beckham and that the 34-year-old looks set to miss this summer's World Cup after picking up the career-threatening injury in AC Milan's 1-0 Serie A win over Chievo.

Beckham twisted his left ankle during the final minutes of the match at the San Siro and limped off the field before being stretchered away in pain and in tears.

Orava explained that the operation at the sports injury clinic of Mehilaeinen hospital in the western city of Turku would take less than an hour.

"It seems the problem is his Achilles tendon. We will have to see whether it's completely severed, partly severed, or something in between," Orava said.

"His recovery will depend on what kind of an injury this is, but it will likely take several months before it is completely healed," Orava said, adding Beckham could likely begin "light training" in a couple of months.

Asked about Beckham's prospects of recovering in time to compete in his fourth World Cup in South Africa, Orava said this "seems a little uncertain, even though I haven't seen him yet."

The World Cup gets underway on June 11.

Beckham was expected to remain in Finland for "a minimum of a couple of days" to recover, Orava said.

Orava added he had previously only seen Beckham on television, but had treated the football legend's teammates from AC Milan and England.

Achilles Tendon Injury: An Explainer

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the bone in the heel and is the most commonly torn tendon in the body. The tendon is usually torn when the leg is straight and the calf muscle contracts. It typically takes several months for athletes to fully recover.

Tearing the Achilles tendon can happen without major incident, particularly in athletes whose bodies are under the continual stress of training.

The injury is most common in tennis, soccer, basketball and running. A study published this year found that one third of NFL players who hurt their Achilles tendon never played professionally again.

People who tear their Achilles tendon have major swelling and are unable to put weight on their ankle or foot.

Certain medications increase the risk of tearing the Achilles tendon, like antibiotics or medicines to reduce inflammation like corticosteroids.

Doctors typically fix torn Achilles tendons with surgery. After the operation, patients are outfitted with a cast or brace to help the tendon heal, for about six to eight weeks.

-- The Associated Press