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Eccentric Exercise Versus Eccentric Exercise and Soft Tissue Treatment (Astym) in the Management of Insertional Achilles Tendinopathy

PainSci » bibliography » McCormack et al 2016
Tags: treatment, strength, massage, tendinosis, exercise, self-treatment, manual therapy, pain problems, overuse injury, injury

One article on PainSci cites McCormack 2016: Tissue Provocation Therapies

PainSci commentary on McCormack 2016: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

A tiny, flawed test of scraping massage (Astym) for Achilles tendinopathy, comparing it to exercise (eccentric contractions). With just eight subjects given Astym, this is a seriously underpowered study, and Astym did not reduce pain significantly. The good news is that Astym results were better as measured by a questionnaire and the (notoriously unreliable) “global rating of change” scale. However, Astym subjects spent much more time with therapists, so there’s a strong chance they benefitted from those interactions — a well known effect — and not the Astym. The modestly positive results here simply cannot be trusted without backup.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Eccentric exercise is commonly used in the management of Achilles tendinopathy (AT) but its effectiveness for insertional AT has been questioned. Soft tissue treatment (Astym) combined with eccentric exercise could result in better outcomes than eccentric exercise alone.

HYPOTHESIS: Soft tissue treatment (Astym) plus eccentric exercise will be more effective than eccentric exercise alone for subjects with insertional AT.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective randomized controlled trial.


METHODS: Sixteen subjects were randomly assigned to either a soft tissue treatment (Astym) and eccentric exercise group or an eccentric exercise-only group. Intervention was completed over a 12-week period, with outcomes assessed at baseline, 4, 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks. Outcomes included the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment Achilles-Specific Questionnaire (VISA-A), the numeric pain rating scale (NPRS), and the global rating of change (GROC).

RESULTS: Significantly greater improvements on the VISA-A were noted in the soft tissue treatment (Astym) group over the 12-week intervention period, and these differences were maintained at the 26- and 52-week follow-ups. Both groups experienced a similar statistically significant improvement in pain over the short and long term. A significantly greater number of subjects in the soft tissue treatment (Astym) group achieved a successful outcome at 12 weeks.

CONCLUSION: Soft tissue treatment (Astym) plus eccentric exercise was more effective than eccentric exercise only at improving function during both short- and long-term follow-up periods.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Soft tissue treatment (Astym) plus eccentric exercise appears to be a beneficial treatment program that clinicians should consider incorporating into the management of their patients with insertional AT.

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