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Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2017 Jun;29:108-114. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2017.03.009. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

Beyond the tendon: Experiences and perceptions of people with persistent Achilles tendinopathy.

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Department of Clinical Therapies, University of Limerick, Ireland. Electronic address:
Department of Clinical Therapies, University of Limerick, Ireland.
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Limerick, Ireland.
Sports Spine Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar.



Achilles tendinopathy (AT) is associated with persistent pain leading to a significant physical and psychological burden. Psychosocial factors are considered to be important mediators following exercise interventions. Despite the recognition of the importance of psychosocial variables in persistent MSK disorders, there is a distinct lack of qualitative research investigating psychosocial factors in AT.


To qualitatively explore the perceptions and experiences of people with AT prior to an intervention study.


A qualitative, interpretive description design was performed using semi-structured telephone interviews. The questioning route covered history of AT, perceived cause of AT, effect of AT pain, experience in managing AT, and perspective on prognosis of AT pain. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. The study has been reported in accordance with the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) checklist. To facilitate the rigor of methodology and the transparency of the research process an audit trail was created.


Eight participant's (Five male and three female). Four main themes were identified in the data: (i) pain as a feature of everyday life; (ii) experience with the management process; (iii) identifying with and self-managing AT, and (iv) looking to the future.


This study suggests that persistent AT is associated with a significant psychosocial impact, particularly in terms of participation in daily life and valued activities. Better understanding the experiences and personal impacts of AT may enhance management of this persistent disorder, and facilitate individuals with AT complying with evidence-based approaches including exercise and pain reconceptualization.


Achilles; Beliefs; Qualitative; Tendinopathy

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