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Achilles Tendon Problems Treated with Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide (NO) is a naturally occurring gas in the body. Scientists are finding many new uses for NO. This study looks at the use of NO for torn or injured tendons called tendinopathies.

Two groups of patients with tendinopathy were studied. Both groups wore a special skin patch on the injured Achilles tendon. The patch was removed and replaced with a new patch every 24 hours for six months. The control group had a patch with nothing on it. The treatment group had a patch with NO in it.

Patients in both groups followed the same rehab program. Pain, tenderness, and activity level were used to measure the results. Pain was assessed at rest, with activity, and at night (during sleep). Measures were taken for up to six months.

The results showed a big decrease in Achilles tendon pain with activity and at night in the NO group. There was also less tendon tenderness in this group. In the control group, only 49 percent of the tendons were pain free at six months. This compares to 78 percent improved and without symptoms in the NO group.

The authors conclude that tendon rehab can be improved by using topical NO therapy. NO can't replace a rehab program; the two treatments should be used together. It's not clear yet why NO works to heal tendinopathy in some people but not in others. More research is planned on this subject.

Justin A. Paoloni, MBBS, et al. Topical Glyceryl Trinitrate Treatment of Chronic Noninsertional Achilles Tendinopathy. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 5. Pp. 916-923.

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