Affiliations: Department of Sports Medicine, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, Northern Ireland | Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute, School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland | New Zealand Centre for Physiotherapy Research, University of Otago, Otago, New Zealand
Abstract: Background: This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of night splints in the management of Achilles tendinopathy, and to test the feasibility of conducting a larger randomised controlled trial (RCT) in this area. Methods: Eleven participants with Achilles tendinopathy (6M, 5F) were randomly assigned to a control group (eccentric exercise only) or an intervention group (eccentric exercise and night splint). Participants were assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks using the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment-Achilles (VISA-A) questionnaire and a functional heel-rise test. Results: Both groups recorded an increase in the mean VISA-A score (intervention group 28.8, control group 21.3), and the mean number of heel raises performed (intervention group 4.0, control group 4.3), from baseline to follow-up 12 weeks later. The changes suggest greater improvements for the intervention group over control group, the however, the small sample size did not permit between group analysis. Compliance with night splints did not present as a problem for participants. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that eccentric exercise combined with a night splint can improve outcomes in Achilles tendinopathy; however the extent to which outcomes are better than eccentric exercises alone needs further study.
Keywords: Night Splints, Achilles Tendinopathy, Physiotherapy