Prediction of running-induced Achilles tendinopathy with pain sensitivity: a 1-year prospective study

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  • René B K Brund
  • Sten Rasmussen
  • Uwe G Kersting
  • Lars Arendt-Nielsen
  • Thorvaldur Skuli Palsson



Achilles tendinopathy is common among runners, but the etiology remains unclear. High mechanical pain sensitivity may be a predictor of increased risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy in this group. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether local pain sensitivity could predict the development of Achilles tendinopathy in recreational male runners. The overall hypothesis was that high pain sensitivity would be related to a higher risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy among recreational male runners. Ninety-nine recreational male runners were recruited and followed prospectively for 1 year. At baseline and after 500 km of running the pressure pain threshold (PPT) was assessed at the infraspinatus and at the Achilles tendon (AT-PPT). Based on the AT-PPT at baseline, a median split was used to divide the runners into two groups. The high pain sensitivity groups was defined as runners displaying a pain pressure threshold below 441 kPa on the Achilles tendon, while the low pain sensitivity group was defined as runners displaying a pain pressure threshold above 441 kPa on the Achilles tendon, respectively. Subsequently, the cumulative risk difference between the two groups was assessed by using the pseudo-observation method. High pain sensitivity runners sustained 5%-point (95% CI: -0.18 to 0.08) more Achilles tendinopathy episodes during the first 1,500 km. No significant group differences in risk were found at 100, 250, 500, 1,000 and 1,500 km of running. No significant association was found between mechanical pain sensitivity in the Achilles tendon and the risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy. However, the risk difference indicated a association between a high mechanical pain sensitivity and an increased risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy. It is plausible that changes in pain sensitivity were masked by unmeasured covariates, such as the differences in progression/regression of training volume and running speed between the two groups. This study was limited in size, which limited the possibility to account for covariates, such as differences in progression/regression of running speed between runners. With the limitations in mind, future studies should control the training volume, speed and running shoes in the design or account for it in the analysis. Pain sensitivity of the Achilles tendon seems not to be related to an increased risk of developing Achilles pain in relation to running.
ZeitschriftScandinavian Journal of Pain
Seiten (von - bis)139-146
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.01.2019

ID: 3572369


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