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Achilles & His Heel

What do you think of when I say “Achilles”? Maybe Achilles heel or Achilles the Trojan warrior. Even though Memphis and the greater mid south area is far from Ancient Greece, just for kicks and giggles, let's go way back to ancient times and review where and why the word Achilles is associated with a point of weakness and vulnerability. This story means a lot to esteemed Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. John Lochemes of Titan Orthopedics. After all, the Titans were the original 12 Greek Gods. 


Achilles' mother, Thetas, wanted the best for her baby son and for him to become immortal. So, when he was an infant, she took him to the river goddess Styx to bathe him in her sacred waters with prayers for her son's immortality. But, as she dipped Achilles into the river, she held him by the heel of his left foot. This one part of his body, untouched by the river waters, left him weak in this spot. Achilles grew up to become a great warrior, and like many of you weekend warriors, went on to fight great battles, or at least play some awesome sports. Unfortunately, during the Trojan battle an arrow shot by Paris, cut Achilles heel (most likely above the heel at the Achilles tendon) and he later died from his wound. 


Some may wonder just how Achilles could die from a severed Achilles tendon. Well, consider this; the Achilles tendon is the strongest and longest tendon in the human body, but it is also the most susceptible to rupture. Which, if under pressure and severed by an arrow or knife, would most likely snap and ripple up, bring you to your knees and leave you open to either an enemy kill shot or disability and risk of infection down the road.


Fortunately, today we experience relative peace and our military's enrollment is voluntary, but back in those days all the society was based around training for war and conquering battles. The physical body could be dressed in armor, but it still took all the blows. Dr. Lochemes says, “We see patients that hear a pop and come in quickly because they know something serious has happened. We also see those who went to the emergency room or urgent care and were told they have a bad ankle sprain, but it doesn't seem to get better. Unfortunately, often they have been under-diagnosed and actually have a torn tendon.” 


Although student athletes do experience Achilles tears, most tears and ruptures occur in those 30–50 years of age, with a higher frequency of those being males. Weekend athletes and weekend warriors who do not take time to stretch and warm up the muscles or just go too hard – too quick, tend to get injured. 


There are basically 3 ways to treat Achilles tendon ruptures, tears, and tendonitis. Either let it heal on its own, treat it with minimally invasive Biologics (PRP), or with a surgical procedure. Generally speaking, letting Mother Nature take care of things on her own may be seen as best, but it often leads to a greater chance of complications from re-injury later on. Treatment with Biologics (PRP) for partial tears is minimally invasive (basically 1 or 2 injection sites) and is highly effective to aid in healing. And lastly, there are surgical procedures.

There are several options available for both Biologics (PRP) treatments for partial Achilles tears and surgical procedures, depending on the extent of the injury and length of time since the injury. “Time is of the essence”, says Dr. Lochemes “missing an Achilles tear can change a person's life forever-because early treatment usually means less intervention and faster recovery”. 

The best time to see an orthopedic doctor is as soon as possible after your injury. But, if what you thought was just a minor injury is still hurting and making it difficult to walk - it is best to see an orthopedic specialist the first 2 weeks to 30 days after the injury. This is the optimal window of time to identify tears for Biologics (PRP) treatment or determine if surgery is necessary. Titan Orthopedics offers in-house Angel System  Biologics. The Angel System produces (PRP) platelet rich plasma which is derived directly from the patient, providing them with a growth factor super boost to recover from an injury. 

If surgery has been recommended, you can be rest assured that surgical repair has a very strong rate of recovery, especially when paired with physical therapy. Surgery is performed at the nationally recognized Campbell Clinic. After surgery, Titan Orthopedic patients are given a phone number to call 24/7 if they have any questions or concerns during their recovery time at home. Physical therapy with Chris M. Valas PT, DPT is prescribed and supervised by Dr. Lochemes. Physical Therapy, or PT sessions usually consist of an exercise progression including, range of motion, resistance, isometric, balance, and cardio vascular exercises.

If you have experienced an injury or have prolonged pain in your shoulders, knees, or ankles, call Titan Orthopedics at (901) 255-6532 or schedule an appointment online. We are the leader in full service on-site Orthopedic care and rehabilitation in the Memphis area and accept a wide variety of insurance providers and Workers’ Compensation Coverage.


Please be advised that all content, including blog articles, on the website Titan Orthopedics is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED OR SUBSTITUTED FOR MEDICAL ADVICE. THE INFORMATION INCLUDED IN OR AVAILABLE THROUGH THE SITE MAY INCLUDE INACCURACIES OR TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS. No guarantees are made and the use of the website, content, and any information provided is at your own risk. If you are seeking medical advice, you are strongly encouraged to consult with a competent physician in your location for assessment and treatment on your particular condition or medical needs.

Titan Orthopedics

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