The TOPSHOCK study: Effectiveness of radial shockwave therapy compared to focused shockwave therapy for treating patellar tendinopath – design of a randomised controlled trial

Background: Patellar tendinopathy is a chronic overuse injury of the patellar tendon that is especially prevalent in people who are involved in jumping activities. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is a relatively new treatment modality for tendinopathies. It seems to be a safe and promising part of the rehabilitation program for patellar tendinopathy. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy originally used focused shockwaves. Several years ago a new kind of shockwave therapy was introduced: radial shockwave therapy. Studies that investigate the effectiveness of radial shockwave therapy as treatment for patellar tendinopathy are scarce. Therefore the aim of this study is to compare the effectiveness of focussed shockwave therapy and radial shockwave therapy as treatments for patellar tendinopathy. Methods/design: The TOPSHOCK study (Tendinopathy Of Patella SHOCKwave) is a two-armed randomised controlled trial in which the effectiveness of focussed shockwave therapy and radial shockwave therapy are directly compared. Outcome assessors and patients are blinded as to which treatment is given. Patients undergo three sessions of either focused shockwave therapy or radial shockwave therapy at 1-week intervals, both in combination with eccentric decline squat training. Follow-up measurements are scheduled just before treatments 2 and 3, and 1, 4, 7 and 12 weeks after the final treatment. The main outcome measure is the Dutch VISA-P questionnaire, which asks for pain, function and sports participation in subjects with patellar tendinopathy. Secondary outcome measures are pain determined with a VAS during ADL, sports and decline squats, rating of subjective improvement and overall satisfaction with the treatment. Patients will also record their sports activities, pain during and after these activities, and concurrent medical treatment on a weekly basis in a web-based diary. Results will be analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle. Discussion: The TOPSHOCK study is the first randomised controlled trial that directly compares the effectiveness of focused shockwave therapy and radial shockwave therapy, both in combination with eccentric decline squat training, for treating patellar tendinopathy. Trial registration: Trial registration number NTR2774

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