This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of customised foot orthoses in chronic mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy. This was a participant-blinded, parallel-group randomised controlled trial at a single centre (La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia). One hundred and forty participants, 18-55 years old, with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy were randomly assigned to receive eccentric calf muscle exercises with either customised foot orthoses (intervention group) or sham foot orthoses (control group). Allocation to intervention was concealed. The Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment-Achilles (VISA-A) questionnaire was completed at baseline, then at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months, with 3 months being the primary end point. Differences between groups were analysed using intention to treat with analysis of covariance. Following randomisation into the customised foot orthoses group (n=67) or sham foot orthoses group (n=73), there was 70.7% follow-up of participants at 3 months. There were no significant differences between groups at any time point. At 3 months, the mean (SD) VISA-A score was 82.1 (16.3) and 79.2 (20.0) points for the customised and sham foot orthosis groups, respectively (adjusted mean difference (95% CI)=2.6 (-2.9 to 8.0), p=0.353). There weren’t any clinically meaningful differences between groups in any of the secondary outcome measures.
Customised foot orthoses, prescribed according to the protocol in this study, weren’t any more effective than sham foot orthoses for reducing symptoms and improving function in people with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy undergoing an eccentric calf muscle exercise programme.