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Functional weight-bearing mobilization after Achilles tendon rupture enhances early healing response: a single-blinded randomized controlled trial



Functional weight-bearing mobilization after Achilles tendon rupture enhances early healing response: a single-blinded randomized controlled trial



Knee Surgery Sports Traumatology Arthroscopy 25(6): 1807-1816



Functional weight-bearing mobilization may improve repair of Achilles tendon rupture (ATR), but the underlying mechanisms and outcome were unknown. We hypothesized that functional weight-bearing mobilization by means of increased metabolism could improve both early and long-term healing. In this prospective randomized controlled trial, patients with acute ATR were randomized to either direct post-operative functional weight-bearing mobilization (n = 27) in an orthosis or to non-weight-bearing (n = 29) plaster cast immobilization. During the first two post-operative weeks, 15°-30° of plantar flexion was allowed and encouraged in the functional weight-bearing mobilization group. At 2 weeks, patients in the non-weight-bearing cast immobilization group received a stiff orthosis, while the functional weight-bearing mobilization group continued with increased range of motion. At 6 weeks, all patients discontinued immobilization. At 2 weeks, healing metabolites and markers of procollagen type I (PINP) and III (PIIINP) were examined using microdialysis. At 6 and 12 months, functional outcome using heel-rise test was assessed. Healing tendons of both groups exhibited increased levels of metabolites glutamate, lactate, pyruvate, and of PIIINP (all p < 0.05). Patients in functional weight-bearing mobilization group demonstrated significantly higher concentrations of glutamate compared to the non-weight-bearing cast immobilization group (p = 0.045).The upregulated glutamate levels were significantly correlated with the concentrations of PINP (r = 0.5, p = 0.002) as well as with improved functional outcome at 6 months (r = 0.4; p = 0.014). Heel-rise tests at 6 and 12 months did not display any differences between the two groups. Functional weight-bearing mobilization enhanced the early healing response of ATR. In addition, early ankle range of motion was improved without the risk of Achilles tendon elongation and without altering long-term functional outcome. The relationship between functional weight-bearing mobilization-induced upregulation of glutamate and enhanced healing suggests novel opportunities to optimize post-operative rehabilitation.

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Accession: 057911008

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27539402

DOI: 10.1007/s00167-016-4270-3


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