Treatment for insertional Achilles tendinopathy: a systematic review

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2013 Jun;21(6):1345-55. doi: 10.1007/s00167-012-2219-8. Epub 2012 Oct 6.


Purpose: Systematically search and analyse the results of surgical and non-surgical treatments for insertional Achilles tendinopathy.

Methods: A structured systematic review of the literature was performed to identify surgical and non-surgical therapeutic studies reporting on ten or more adults with insertional Achilles tendinopathy. MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE (Classic) and the Cochrane database of controlled trials (1945-March 2011) were searched. The Coleman methodology score was used to assess the quality of included articles, and these were analysed with an emphasis on change in pain score, patient satisfaction and complication rate.

Results: Of 451 reviewed abstracts, 14 trials met our inclusion criteria evaluating 452 procedures in 433 patients. Five surgical techniques were evaluated; all had a good patient satisfaction (avg. 89 %). The complication ratio differed substantially between techniques. Two studies analysed injections showing significant decrease in visual analogue scale (VAS). Eccentric exercises showed a significant decrease in VAS, but a large group of patients was unsatisfied. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) was superior to both wait-and-see and an eccentric training regime. One study evaluated laser CO(2), TECAR and cryoultrasound, all with significant decrease in VAS.

Conclusions: Despite differences in outcome and complication ratio, the patient satisfaction is high in all surgical studies. It is not possible to draw conclusions regarding the best surgical treatment for insertional Achilles tendinopathy. ESWT seems effective in patients with non-calcified insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Although both eccentric exercises resulted in a decrease in VAS score, full range of motion eccentric exercises shows a low patient satisfaction compared to floor level exercises and other conservative treatment modalities.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bursitis / therapy
  • Calcaneus
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tendinopathy / surgery
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • Young Adult