La Trobe
1060991_van der Vlist,A_2021.pdf (961.47 kB)

Which treatment is most effective for patients with Achilles tendinopathy? A living systematic review with network meta-analysis of 29 randomised controlled trials

Download (961.47 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2021-02-22, 01:11 authored by AC Van Der Vlist, M Winters, A Weir, Clare L Ardern, NJ Welton, DM Caldwell, JAN Verhaar, RJ De Vos
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. Objective: To provide a consistently updated overview of the comparative effectiveness of treatments for Achilles tendinopathy. Design: Living systematic review and network meta-analysis. Data sources: Multiple databases including grey literature sources were searched up to February 2019. Study eligibility criteria: Randomised controlled trials examining the effectiveness of any treatment in patients with both insertional and/or midportion Achilles tendinopathy. We excluded trials with 10 or fewer participants per treatment arm or trials investigating tendon ruptures. Data extraction and synthesis: Reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the risk of bias. We used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation to appraise the certainty of evidence. Primary outcome measure: The validated patient-reported Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment-Achilles questionnaire. Results: 29 trials investigating 42 different treatments were included. 22 trials (76%) were at high risk of bias and 7 (24%) had some concerns. Most trials included patients with midportion tendinopathy (86%). Any treatment class seemed superior to wait-and-see for midportion Achilles tendinopathy at 3 months (very low to low certainty of evidence). At 12 months, exercise therapy, exercise+injection therapy and exercise+night splint therapy were all comparable with injection therapy for midportion tendinopathy (very low to low certainty). No network meta-analysis could be performed for insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Summary/conclusion: In our living network meta-analysis no trials were at low risk of bias and there was large uncertainty in the comparative estimates. For midportion Achilles tendinopathy, wait-and-see is not recommended as all active treatments seemed superior at 3-month follow-up. There seems to be no clinically relevant difference in effectiveness between different active treatments at either 3-month or 12-month follow-up. As exercise therapy is easy to prescribe, can be of low cost and has few harms, clinicians could consider starting treatment with a calf-muscle exercise programme.


Publication Date



British Journal of Sports Medicine






8p. (p. 249-256)





Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

Usage metrics

    Journal Articles


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager