Background and purpose: Chronic Achilles tendinopathy is a painful condition and there are often unsatisfactory results with conservative treatment. Extracorporal shock-wave therapy (ESWT) has been introduced for the management of various soft tissue conditions. The objective of the study was to compare the effect of supplementing conservative treatment of chronic Achilles tendinopathy with ESWT or placebo.
Patients and methods: This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients assigned to nonoperative treatment of chronic achilles tendinopathy were randomized to receive either active ESWT or sham ESWT over 4 weeks. There were 48 patients (28 men) with a mean age of 47 (19-80) years. American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) score and pain were assessed before treatment, during the 4-week treatment period, and at 4, 8, and 12 weeks of follow-up.
Results: Both groups improved during the treatment and follow-up period. The mean AOFAS score increased from 74 (SD 12) to 81 (16) in the placebo group and from 70 (6.8) to 88 (10) in the intervention group (p = 0.05). Better results were seen in the intervention group at 8 and 12 weeks of follow-up (p = 0.01 and p = 0.04, respectively). Interpretation Extracorporal shock-wave therapy appears to be a supplement for the treatment of chronic Achilles tendinopathy.