Background: Few randomized controlled trials compare different methods of management in chronic tendinopathy of the main body of tendo Achillis.
Purpose: To compare the effectiveness of 3 management strategies-group 1, eccentric loading; group 2, repetitive low-energy shock-wave therapy (SWT); and group 3, wait and see-in patients with chronic tendinopathy of the main body of tendo Achillis.
Study design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.
Methods: Seventy-five patients with a chronic recalcitrant (>6 months) noninsertional Achilles tendinopathy were enrolled in a randomized controlled study. All patients had received unsuccessful management for >3 months, including at least (1) peritendinous local injections, (2) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and (3) physiotherapy. A computerized random-number generator was used to draw up an allocation schedule. Analysis was on intention-to-treat basis.
Results: At 4 months from baseline, the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment (VISA)-A score increased in all groups, from 51 to 76 points in group 1 (eccentric loading), from 50 to 70 points in group 2 (repetitive low-energy SWT), and from 48 to 55 points in group 3 (wait and see). Pain rating decreased in all groups, from 7 to 4 points in group 1, from 7 to 4 points in group 2, and from 8 to 6 points in group 3. Fifteen of 25 patients in group 1 (60%), 13 of 25 patients in group 2 (52%), and 6 of 25 patients in Group 3 (24%) reported a Likert scale of 1 or 2 points ("completely recovered" or "much improved"). For all outcome measures, groups 1 and 2 did not differ significantly. For all outcome measures, groups 1 and 2 showed significantly better results than group 3.
Conclusion: At 4-month follow-up, eccentric loading and low-energy SWT showed comparable results. The wait-and-see strategy was ineffective for the management of chronic recalcitrant tendinopathy of the main body of the Achilles tendon.