Pharmacological interventions for the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Br Med Bull. 2015 Mar;113(1):101-15. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldu040. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


Introduction: Several pharmacological interventions have been proposed for the management of Achilles tendinopathy, with no agreement on which is the overall best option available. This systematic review investigates the efficacy and safety of different local pharmacological treatments for Achilles tendinopathy.

Sources of data: We included only randomized controlled studies (RCTs) focusing on clinical and functional outcomes of therapies consisting in injection of a substance or local application. Assessment of the methodological quality was performed using a modified version of the Coleman methodology score (CMS) to determine possible risks of bias.

Areas of agreement: Thirteen RCTs were included with a total of 528 studied patients. Eleven studies reported the outcomes of injection therapies. Two studies examined the outcomes of patients who applied glyceryl trinitrate patch. The mean modified CMS was 70.6 out of 90.

Areas of controversy: There was no significant evidence of remarkable benefits provided by any of the therapies studied.

Growing points: There is not univocal evidence to advise any particular pharmacological treatment as the best advisable non-operative option for Achilles tendinopathy as equivalent alternative to the most commonly used eccentric loading rehabilitation program. However, potential was shown by the combination of different substances administered with physical therapy.

Research: There is a need for more long-term investigations, studying large enough cohort with standardized scores and evaluations shared by all the investigations to confirm the healing potential, and provide a stronger statistical comparison of the available treatments.

Keywords: Achilles; conservative treatment; soft tissue therapy; tendinopathy; tendon pathology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Blood Transfusion, Autologous / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma
  • Polidocanol
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sclerosing Solutions / therapeutic use*
  • Tendinopathy / drug therapy*
  • Tendinopathy / epidemiology
  • Tendinopathy / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Wound Healing


  • Sclerosing Solutions
  • Polidocanol
  • Polyethylene Glycols