What is Achilles Tendinitis
Do you have pain at the back of your leg? The muscle at the back of the lower leg is called the Achilles Tendon. This powerful muscle helps us to jump, run and bicycle. Consequently, pain involving the heel-cord or back of the heel is commonly called Achilles tendinitis.
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One of the Overuse Injuries
Did you know that Achilles Tendinitis is thought to be one of the “overuse” injuries?The term “Overuse” means that the patient ignores early warning signs of pain or swelling. Therefore, by continuing to exercise without seeking help or resting the patient actually makes the problem worse. Have you ever ignored the early warning signs of pain? Did it get worse?
Biomechanics of the Achilles Tendon
Is your pain caused by the way you walk? Often a person’s own biomechanics may predispose them to this type of injury. Biomechanics is the study of physical structure and movement. Furthermore, the Achilles has a “weak spot” where it has a reduced blood supply. This weak spot is often the site of injury. Ouch!
What makes the Achilles Muscle Group Unique
The Achilles Tendon Complex actually involves two powerful muscles; the Medial and Lateral heads of the Gastrocnemius Muscles and the Soleus Muscle. These two powerful muscles unite around back of mid-calf to form the Achilles Tendon. Therefore this muscle group is responsible for pedal pushing and forwards propulsion.
An other fact which differentiates the Achilles from other tendons is that the Achilles actually crosses two joints. The Gastrocnemius muscle originates above the knee, hence the Achilles crosses both the knee and the ankle joints.
Should we call it Tendinitis or Tendinosis or Tendinopathy? Although traditionally chronic pain about the Achilles was referred to as “tendinitis”, recently this term has been updated. Why? Due to histologic studies (specimen examined under the microscope), scientists have shown that once Achilles’ tendon pain continues past 6 weeks there are no more inflammatory cells present. Inflammatory cells define the “Acute” or short-term phase of an injury. Thus, beyond the acute phase the chronic tendon pain can no longer be referred to as “tendinitis” rather, tendinosis is the proper term.
Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t ignore the early warning signs of pain, rather, get help early as soon as your pain starts. As a Sports Medicine Physician specializing in the Lower Extremity, I urge everyone to listen to your body. Even those of you who do not exercise regularly, listen to your body. Learn how to warm up before exercise and cool down and stretch safely. Do you have pain at the back of your leg? If you experience pain or an injury, see a Sports Medicine Physician 👩⚕️. If you have pain or an injury of this muscle group I’m accepting new patients, please call my office for an appointment.