As with most studies, the devil is in the details. Take some time to review the actual results of this study. I am not familiar with the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment Achilles-Specific Questionnaire. The first question to consider is what is the minimal clinically important difference for this tool. The next question: when analyzing the results, does the difference between the outcomes meet or surpass the minimal clinically important difference?
What I did like about the abstract: the patients were followed for 52 weeks. There will be information on short term and long term results comparing the two interventions.
Here's a quick view of the abstract.
Eccentric exercise is commonly used in the management of Achilles tendinopathy (AT) but its effectiveness for insertional AT has been questioned. Soft tissue treatment (Astym) combined with eccentric exercise could result in better outcomes than eccentric exercise alone.
Soft tissue treatment (Astym) plus eccentric exercise will be more effective than eccentric exercise alone for subjects with insertional AT.
Prospective randomized controlled trial.
Sixteen subjects were randomly assigned to either a soft tissue treatment (Astym) and eccentric exercise group or an eccentric exercise-only group. Intervention was completed over a 12-week period, with outcomes assessed at baseline, 4, 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks. Outcomes included the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment Achilles-Specific Questionnaire (VISA-A), the numeric pain rating scale (NPRS), and the global rating of change (GROC).
Significantly greater improvements on the VISA-A were noted in the soft tissue treatment (Astym) group over the 12-week intervention period, and these differences were maintained at the 26- and 52-week follow-ups. Both groups experienced a similar statistically significant improvement in pain over the short and long term. A significantly greater number of subjects in the soft tissue treatment (Astym) group achieved a successful outcome at 12 weeks.
Soft tissue treatment (Astym) plus eccentric exercise was more effective than eccentric exercise only at improving function during both short- and long-term follow-up periods.
Soft tissue treatment (Astym) plus eccentric exercise appears to be a beneficial treatment program that clinicians should consider incorporating into the management of their patients with insertional AT.
Sports Health. 2016 May/Jun;8(3):230-237. doi: 10.1177/1941738116631498.