Changes on Tendon Stiffness & Clinical Outcomes in Athletes Are Associated With Patellar Tendinopathy

Eccentric exercise is commonly used as a form of loading exercise for individuals with patellar tendinopathy. This study investigated the change of mechanical properties and clinical outcomes and their interrelationships after a 12-week single-legged decline-board exercise with and without extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT).

Thirty-four male in-season athletes with patellar tendinopathy for more than 3 months were randomized into exercise and combined groups. The exercise group received a 12-week single-legged decline-squat exercise, and the combined group performed an identical exercise program in addition to a weekly session of ESWT in the initial 6 weeks.

Tendon stiffness and strain were examined using ultrasonography and dynamometry. Visual analog scale and Victoria Institute of Sports Assessment-patella (VISA-p) score were used to assess pain and dysfunction. These parameters were measured at preintervention and postintervention.

Significant time effect but no significant group effect on the outcome measures; significant reduction in tendon stiffness (P = 0.02) and increase in tendon strain (P = 0.00); and reduction of intensity of pain (P = 0.00) and dysfunction (P = 0.00) were observed. Significant correlations between changes in tendon stiffness and VISA-p score (ρ = -0.58, P = 0.05); alteration in tendon strain, pain intensity (ρ = -0.63, P = 0.03); and VISA-p score (ρ = 0.60, P = 0.04) were detected after the exercise program. Eccentric exercise-induced modulation on tendon mechanical properties and clinical symptoms are associated in athletes with patellar tendinopathy.