Aim: Prognosis and treatment of Achilles tendon pain (achillodynia) has been insufficiently studied. The purpose of the present study was to examine the long-term effect of eccentric exercises compared with stretching exercises on patients with achillodynia.
Methods: Patients with achillodynia for at least 3 months were randomly allocated to one of two exercise regimens. Exercise was performed daily for a 3-month period. Symptom severity was evaluated by tendon tenderness, ultrasonography, a questionnaire on pain and other symptoms, and a global assessment of improvement. Follow-up was performed at time points 3, 6, 9, 12 weeks and 1 year.
Results: Of 53 patients with achillodynia 45 patients were randomized to either eccentric exercises or stretching exercises. Symptoms gradually improved during the 1-year follow-up period and were significantly better assessed by pain and symptoms after 3 weeks and all later visits. However, no significant differences could be observed between the two groups. Women and patients with symptoms from the distal part of the tendon had significantly less improvement.
Conclusions: Marked improvement in symptoms and findings could be gradually observed in both groups during the 1-year follow-up period. To that extent this is due to effect of both regimens or the spontaneous improvement is unsettled.