PURPOSE: Our aim was to ascertain whether releasing the medial head of he gastrocnemius improves clinical and functional outcomes of sedentary patients with long-standing tendinopathy of the main body of the Achilles tendon and allows return to daily activities. METHODS: Eighteen patients (seven men, 11 women) underwent release of the gastrocnemius medial head to manage chronic unilateral Achilles tendinopathy. Pre- and postoperatively, each patient completed the Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment-Achilles tendon (VISA-A) questionnaire. The maximum calf circumference and isometric plantar flexion strength of the gastrocsoleus complex were measured in both the affected and the contralateral leg. Function was scored using the 4-point Boyden scale at the last assessment. RESULTS: At the last appointment, at an average follow-up of 54 months, maximum calf circumference and strength of the operated leg were not significantly different than pre-operatively and were significantly lower than the contralateral leg. All patients could satisfactorily perform the same work and daily activities as before symptom onset. At the last follow-up, the average VISA-A score was improved from a preoperative average value of 52.3 to 75 (range 51-94) (p < .001). CONCLUSIONS: This approach to managing isolated Achiles tendinopathy is safe, effective, low cost and allows safe return to preinjury daily activities.
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