High-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy as a treatment for insertional Achilles tendinopathy

John Patrick Furia
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2006, 34 (5): 733-40

BACKGROUND: Results of high-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy for the treatment of insertional Achilles tendinopathy are not determined. It is unclear how local anesthesia alters the outcome of this procedure.

HYPOTHESIS: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is an effective treatment for insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Local anesthesia field block adversely affects outcome.

STUDY DESIGN: Case control study; Level of evidence, 3.

METHODS: Thirty-five patients with chronic insertional Achilles tendinopathy were treated with 1 dose of high-energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT group; 3000 shocks; 0.21 mJ/mm2; total energy flux density, 604 mJ/mm2), and 33 were treated with nonoperative therapy (control group). All extracorporeal shock wave therapy procedures were performed using a local anesthesia field block (LA subgroup, 12 patients) or a nonlocal anesthesia (NLA subgroup, 23 patients). Evaluation was by visual analog score and by Roles and Maudsley score.

RESULTS: One month, 3 months, and 12 months after treatment, the mean visual analog score for the control and ESWT groups were 8.2 and 4.2 (P < .001), 7.2 and 2.9 (P < .001), and 7.0 and 2.8 (P < .001), respectively. Twelve months after treatment, the number of patients with successful Roles and Maudsley scores was statistically greater in the ESWT group compared with the control group (P > .0002), with 83% of ESWT group patients having a successful result, and the mean improvement in visual analog score for the LA subgroup was significantly less than that in the NLA subgroup (F = 16.77 vs F = 53.95, P < .001). The percentage of patients with successful Roles and Maudsley scores did not differ among the LA and NLA subgroups.

CONCLUSION: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is an effective treatment for chronic insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Local field block anesthesia may decrease the effectiveness of this procedure.

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