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Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis (AT) is a common, painful disorder of the the Achilles tendon which is the one that attaches muscles from the back of the lower leg to the heel. 

Tendonitis often affects runners, ballet dancers and many other athletic individuals. It can cause considerable disability even in sedentary people. The red area in the illustration shows where pain and tenderness on the tendon usually occurs.

Considerable "scientific" dogma states that overuse causes Achilles tendonitis and many other tendon problems such as tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis. Overuse may be a factor, but in my view is not likely the actual CAUSE of the condition. Pain is usually a major symptom of AT so one would reasonably expect to find inflammation affecting the painful areas of involvement.

However, Swedish researchers Astrom et al, ("Chronic Achilles tendinopathy. A survey of surgical and histopathologic findings.") biopsied the Achilles tendons of 163 patients with tendonitis and examined them under the microscope.

Interestingly, they reported only degenerative changes in the tendon such as abnormal fibre structure and marked growth in small blood vessels, but, quite unexpectedly, there was no inflammation present. In fact they reported, “Important features are a lack of inflammatory cells and a poor healing response.” These are not signs of injury and instead suggest the presence of a weakened immune system.

Therefore, one needs to look for another cause of the athletes’ pain and loss of normal function. In my view,  the body’s immune system is attacking and damaging its own tissues. A so-called “autoimmune response”. This is most likely due to the stress of high level exercise and training, which can reduce the effectiveness of the body’s immune status. Continued exercise therefore tends to aggravate the situation. Chronic over-stress, both physical and psychological can lead to an increased level of natural corticosteroids circulating in the bloodstream which can significantly suppress the body’s immune status then lead to auto-immune damage. The targets for these attacks can include any of the body tissues, but it appears there is a predilection for specific sites e.g. the thyroid gland, the anal mucosa (anal fissure), the plantar fascia (plantar fasciitis), the groin (osteitis pubis), tennis elbow and of course, the Achilles tendon.

I have seen many long-standing cases of the abovementioned conditions (and more) that were totally unresponsive to numerous and various physical and medicinal treatments. Some of these patients recovered, sometimes rapidly, to application of wheatgrass extract over the painful area. This appears to prevent or eliminate pain sensation reaching the brain where pain is "recognised". It is known that wheatgrass is a potent inhibitor of Substance P, the most common pain neurotransmitter in the body. It therefore blocks pain sensation from reaching the brain. Hence the reason for applying wheatgrass over any painful area because it may stop the pain in many circumstances.

Dr. Chris Reynolds. M.B.,B.S.

Image credit: eraxion / 123RF Stock Photo

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