Gender and eccentric training in Achilles mid-portion tendinopathy

Karsten Knobloch, Louisa Schreibmueller, Robert Kraemer, Michael Jagodzinski, Peter M Vogt, Joern Redeker
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 2010, 18 (5): 648-55
The role of gender in Achilles tendinopathy is yet to be determined. We hypothesized that female patients respond the same as males to 12 weeks of painful eccentric training. A total number of 75 consecutive mid-portion patients with Achilles tendinopathy (25 females, 38 males) were enrolled in a cohort study with 63 being analyzed after 12 weeks according to their gender for tendon and paratendon microcirculatory mapping. Outcome was determined by pain on visual analogue scale, VISA-A score, Foot Ankle Outcome Score (FAOS), tendon and paratendon capillary blood flow, oxygen saturation, and postcapillary venous filling pressures. Eccentric training resulted in a morning resting pain reduction by 44% in males (P = 0.001) and by 27% in females (P = 0.08). VISA-A score improved in males by 27% from 63 +/- 12 to 86 +/- 13 (P = 0.036) and by 20% in females from 60 +/- 14 to 75 +/- 11 (P = 0.043, P < 0.05 for gender difference). Among females, only one out of five FAOS items was increased (sport 72 +/- 21 to 82 +/- 15, P = 0.045), while in males, four out of five items were increased (symptoms, pain, all-day-life, and sport, all P < 0.01). The microcirculatory gender-specific response to eccentric training revealed a greater postcapillary venous filling pressure reduction among symptomatic females and inconclusive capillary blood flow changes. No change in tendon oxygenation was noted in both genders. Symptomatic females suffering Achilles tendinopathy do not benefit as much as symptomatic males from 12 weeks of eccentric training. The pain reduction is significantly lower among symptomatic females in contrast to males, and the improvement in the FAOS and VISA-A scores is significantly lower among females in contrast to males. Additional treatment options warrant scrutiny to symptomatic females suffering Achilles tendinopathy beyond eccentric training.

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