Aim: To assess whether the use of a night splint is of added benefit on functional outcome in treating chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy.
Methods: This was a single-blind, prospective, single centre, randomised controlled trial set in the Sports Medical Department, The Hague Medical Centre, The Netherlands. Inclusion criteria were: age 18–70 years, active participation in sports, and tendon pain localised at 2–7 cm from distal insertion. Exclusion criteria were: insertional disorders, partial or complete ruptures, or systemic illness. 70 tendons were included and randomised into one of two treatment groups: eccentric exercises with a night splint (night splint group, n = 36) or eccentric exercises only (eccentric group, n = 34).
Interventions: Both groups completed a 12-week heavy-load eccentric training programme. One group received a night splint in addition to eccentric exercises. At baseline and follow-up at 12 weeks, patient satisfaction, Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment–Achilles questionnaire (VISA-A) score and reported compliance were recorded by a single-blind trained researcher who was blinded to the treatment.
Results: After 12 weeks, patient satisfaction in the eccentric group was 63% compared with 48% in the night splint group. The VISA-A score significantly improved in both groups; in the eccentric group from 50.1 to 68.8 (p = 0.001) and in the night splint group from 49.4 to 67.0 (p<0.001). There was no significant difference between the two groups in VISA-A score (p = 0.815) and patient satisfaction (p = 0.261).
Conclusion: A night splint is not beneficial in addition to eccentric exercises in the treatment of chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy.
- VISA-A, Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment–Achilles questionnaire
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Published Online First 18 December 2006
Competing interests: None declared.
Informed consent was obtained for publication of all photographs in this paper.
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