The mechanisms that contribute to Achilles tendinopathy remain poorly understood. The disparity between pain experience and peripheral pathology demonstrated in patients with Achilles tendinopathy suggests that changes in central nervous system function may be involved. The aim of this study was to investigate whether lower-limb tactile acuity is impaired in people with nonacute Achilles tendinopathy.
Thirteen consecutive participants with nonacute midportion Achilles tendinopathy and 13 healthy controls were enrolled. Two-point discrimination thresholds over the affected Achilles tendon, unaffected tendon, and tendon of healthy controls were evaluated. Independent and dependent t tests were used to compare group means. Two-point discrimination distance over the affected limb in participants with Achilles tendinopathy was significantly increased when compared to the unaffected limb (mean difference, 11.7 mm; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.9, 21.5; P = .02) and to healthy controls (mean difference, 13.1 mm; 95% CI: 1.6, 24.6; P = .03). There was no significant difference between the healthy controls and the unaffected side in people with Achilles tendinopathy (mean difference, 1.4 mm; 95% CI: -7.9, 5.1; P = .66).
These data provide the first evidence of reduced 2-point discrimination over the affected tendon in patients with Achilles tendinopathy. Further research is needed to determine the cause for the change in tactile acuity.