Where is your pain? achilles tendinopathy pain location on loading is different to palpation, imaging and recall location

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy





First Page


Last Page


PubMed ID



Movement Science Media


Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute / School of Medical and Health Sciences


Rio, E. K., Rabusin, C. L., Munteanu, S. E., Docking, S. I., Perrott, M., Couch, J., . . . Girdwood, M. (2023). Where is your pain? achilles tendinopathy pain location on loading is different to palpation, imaging and recall location. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 54(1), 86-94. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2023.12131


OBJECTIVE: To describe and compare pain maps reported during Achilles tendon loading exercises with recall pain location, in people with pain on palpation in their Achilles tendon and tendon pathology on imaging. t DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of baseline RCT. METHOD: Participants were recruited from a larger Achilles tendinopathy clinical trial. Inclusion criteria were at least 2-month self-reported history of Achilles tendinopathy, midtendon palpation pain, and pathology on ultrasound tissue characterization. Participants were asked to identify their Achilles tendon pain location on a pain map with 8 prespecified locations while at rest prior to loading (recall pain), and subsequently during tendon loading exercises (loading pain). Participants could select multiple locations or select “other” if the locations did not represent their pain. RESULTS: Ninety-three participants were included (93% of participants from a clinical trial). The locations of pain on loading were diverse; all 8 pain locations (and an “other” option) were represented within this sample. Twenty-five percent of participants did not report pain with loading (n = 23 of 93). Of the 70 participants with loading pain, recall pain location differed to loading pain location in 40% (n = 28 of 70) of the participants. CONCLUSION: Palpation pain location, recall pain location, or location of pathology on imaging were not valid proxies for load-related pain in the Achilles tendon. How different pain locations respond to treatment is unknown. Some pathologies (eg, plantaris) have clear pain locations (eg, medial tendon), and assessing pain location may assist differential diagnosis.



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