This study reports the preliminary short-term clinical outcomes of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) for treatment for Achilles tendinopathy. Fourteen patients with clinically diagnosed Achilles tendinopathy who failed previous nonoperative treatments underwent LIPUS stimulation directly over the area of maximum tendon tenderness for 20 min/d for 8 weeks total. No other treatment modalities were used during the period of LIPUS stimulation. All patients had serial clinical exams and evaluations with an average follow-up of 12 months (range, 6-50 months). Excellent clinical outcomes with complete resolution of pain and other symptoms were achieved in 7 patients (50%). Two patients (14%) had good outcomes with mild tendon irritation and stiffness not requiring further intervention. Five patients (36%) had minimal benefit with ongoing pain, swelling, and tenderness over the Achilles and functional deficits. No patients had worsening pain or progression of disability requiring surgery.
LIPUS is an additional noninvasive treatment modality for chronic Achilles tendinopathy that could have the potential to help improve clinical symptoms and delay and/or prevent the need for surgical intervention. While LIPUS is easy to use, well-tolerated, and has promising early clinical results, further research is needed to determine the long-term benefits, disadvantages, and cost-effectiveness of this alternative treatment for tendinopathy.