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Knee injuries afflict sports stars more often than us mere mortals. In this series we will document famous sports stars that have had to deal with injuries that have ranged from mere career threatening to career ending. Sometimes these injuries have led to the premature end of many a promising career. Top quality physiotherapists are in demand for sports clubs in order to protect players from injury, with sport becoming a global entertainment business; knee health is serious business and can be worth millions in high end professional sport.
Owen Hargreaves was an English professional footballer. Hard-working, Hargreaves was the midfield engine room, working hard to win the ball back for the teams that he played for. Hargreaves won the Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2001 and was capped for the England national team. In 2007 he joined Manchester United for a cool 17 million pounds (see what we mean by knees being serious business?)
Hargreaves started becoming injured around 2007 in which he returned after breaking his leg. It is believed that the leg muscle became weaker after he broke his leg and this caused a muscle imbalance that resulted in pain that Hargreaves ignored and played on with.
This resulted in a patella tendon injury that became patellar tendonitis. This condition plagued his career and he eventually had to retire in 2012. From 2008 to 2012 he only played 9 competitive games, every time it looked like he would make a comeback, he would hit a setback and not be able to play.
What is patellar tendonitis? This is a condition also known as jumpers knee it is a common injury found in athletes and occurs in those engaged in frequent jumping like motions. Patellar tendonitis is particularly prevalent in jumping intensive sports such as basketball and volleyball.
Jumpers knee can creep up unsuspecting with 4 known stages that can be diagnosed. Stage 1 is early onset jumpers knee with pain occurring only after activity. Stage 2 is advanced stage with pain occurring during and after the activity. In the case of Owen Hargreaves he was possibly at stage 2 during the 2007 season and he made the mistake of playing through the pain. Stage 3 advances even further with increasing pain that makes performing activities at a high level very difficult to do, the pain is prevalent at most time. Stage 4 finally results in the tendon tearing requiring surgical repair. It is said that by the time Hargreaves came to surgery the doctors described the extent of the injury as the worst he had seen in 35 years’ experience. Hargreaves inability to recover may also have been hampered by trying to get back playing too soon after surgery.
It is a shame that a great player like Hargreaves career was ended in its prime. Manchester United also have had to deal with losses in excess of £17 million. In sports there is thus a high demand for quality physiotherapy work that will save them from losing money in the long run on their investments.