Treatment of Insertional Achilles Tendinopathy Using Adjunct Electroacupuncture Therapy: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Matthew Hawks*, Erik Clauson, Pamela Hughes, Rebecca Lauters, Paul Crawford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Achilles tendinopathy is a common musculoskeletal condition associated with decreased functionality. The insertional variant (<2cm from the calcaneus) is less responsive to eccentric-exercise therapy. This study looked at the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) + eccentric exercise for treating insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Materials and Methods: Fifty-two active duty and Department of Defense beneficiaries older than 18 years of age with insertional Achilles tendinopathy were randomized to treatment with either eccentric exercise or eccentric exercise with EA. They were evaluated at 0, 2, 4, 6, and 12 weeks. The treatment group received EA treatment in the first 4 visits. The Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment-Achilles Questionnaire (VISA-A; scored 0-100; higher score = increased function) was used to assess the patients and patient-reported pain (0-10, increasing pain with score) pre- and post-demonstration of the exercises during each visit. Results: Both the treatment group (53.6% reduction; confidence interval [CI]: 2.1, 3.9; P < 0.001) and the control group (37.5% reduction; CI: 0.4, 2.9; P = 0.023) reported decreased pain between the first and last visit. The treatment group had reduced pain (mean difference [MD] = 1.0; P < 0.01) between pre- and post-eccentric-exercise performance at each visit, while the control group did not (MD = -0.3; P = 0.065). VISA-A scores did not show a difference in functional improvement between the groups (P = 0.296). Conclusions: EA as an adjunct to eccentric therapy significantly improves short-term pain control for insertional Achilles tendinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-81
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Acupuncture
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Achilles
  • acupuncture
  • electroacupuncture
  • insertional
  • tendinopathy


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