Alfredson versus Silbernagel exercise therapy in chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial
The purpose was to examine the reliability of measurement techniques and evaluate the effect of a treatment protocol including eccentric overload for patients with chronic pain from the Achilles tendon. Thirty-two patients with proximal achillodynia (44 involved Achilles tendons) participated in tests for reliability measures. No significant differences and strong (r=0.56-0.72) or very strong (r=0.90-0.93) correlations were found between pre-tests, except for the documentation of pain at rest (P<0.008, r=0.45). To evaluate the effect of a 12-week treatment protocol for patients with chronic proximal achillodynia (pain longer than three months) 40 patients (57 involved Achilles tendons) with a mean age of 45 years (range 19-77) were randomised into an experiment group (n=22) and a control group (n=18). Evaluations were performed after six weeks of treatment and after three and six months. The evaluations (including the pre-tests), performed by a physical therapist unaware of the group the patients belonged to, consisted of a questionnaire, a range of motion test, a jumping test, a toe-raise test, a pain on palpation test and pain evaluation during jumping, toe-raises and at rest. A follow-up was also performed after one year. There were no significant differences between groups at any of the evaluations, except that the experiment group jumped significantly lower than the control group at the six-week evaluation. There was, however, an overall better result for the experiment group with significant improvements in plantar flexion, and reduction in pain on palpation, number of patients having pain during walking, having periods when asymptomatic and having swollen Achilles tendon. The controls did not show such changes. Furthermore, at the one-year follow-up there were significantly more patients in the experiment group, compared with the control group, that were satisfied with their present physical activity level, considered themselves fully recovered, and had no pain during or after physical activity. The measurement techniques and the treatment protocol with eccentric overload used in the present study can be recommended for patients with chronic pain from the Achilles tendon.