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Is the plantaris muscle the most undefined human skeletal muscle?

PainSci » bibliography » Kurtys et al 2021

Two articles on PainSci cite Kurtys 2021: 1. The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome2. Achilles Tendinitis Treatment Science

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The plantaris muscle is located in the posterior aspect of the superficial compartment of the lower leg, running from the lateral condyle of the femur to the calcaneal tuberosity. Classically, it is characterized by a small and fusiform muscle belly, which then changes into a long slender tendon. From the evolutionary point of view, the muscle is considered vestigial. However, it has recently been suspected of being a highly specialized sensory muscle because of its high density of muscle spindles. It has a noticeable tendency to vary in respect of both origin and insertion. Researchers have published many reports on the potential clinical significance of the muscle belly and tendon, including mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy, 'tennis leg syndrome', and popliteal artery entrapment syndrome. The right knee joint area was subjected to classical anatomical dissection, during which an atypical plantaris muscle was found and examined in detail. Accurate morphometric measurements were made. The muscle belly was assessed as bifurcated. Morphologically, superior and inferior parts were presented. There was a tendinous connection (named band A) with the iliotibial tract and an additional insertion (named band B) to the semimembranosus tendon. Both bands A and B presented very broad fan-shaped attachments. The human plantaris muscle is of considerable interest and has frequent morphological variations in its proximal part. Its specific characteristics can cause clinical problems and lead to confusion in diagnosis. More studies are needed to define its actual features and functions.

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