Improving Understanding of Achilles Tendon Pain Through Research
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Improving Understanding of Achilles Tendon Pain

March 7, 2024

Treatment of Achilles tendon pain is historically challenging, according to Scott W. Lowe, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, an assistant professor with the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at PCOM Georgia.

A physical therapist works to address a patient's Achilles tendon pain.
Achilles tendon pain can be difficult to treat.

“Most of the focus on diagnosis and treatment of this area has relied strictly on how it moves, but not how the nervous system may also be making adaptations over time,” Lowe said. “There is strong research in other body regions which has examined these changes, but little has been done in this area.”

By investigating the potential changes in the heat and cold sensitivity of the nervous system in people with pain in the Achilles tendon, Lowe hopes to better inform future Achilles tendon pain treatment by giving providers a better idea of what changes are likely in their patients.

“If we develop a better understanding of how the nervous system is likely to make changes over time, we can reduce the potential to overlook an important part of recovery,” Lowe explained.

Incorporating Research in the Classroom

In his clinical practice, Lowe noticed a number of common problems faced by patients that had not been studied.

“In my role here at PCOM Georgia, I have the opportunity to begin answering those questions to better prepare providers for these challenging cases,” he said.

Key Points
  • Treating Achilles tendon pain is challenging.
  • Lowe’s research emphasizes the importance of investigating changes in nervous system sensitivity to heat and cold in Achilles tendon pain management.
  • Ongoing research could better inform future Achilles tendon pain treatment.

Lowe recently taught Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students about the ankle in their second musculoskeletal course and said the concepts from his research facilitated great discussions about how to go above and beyond when evaluating patients. Additionally, three DPT students are assisting him with his Achilles tendon pain research which helped those students prepare for the class.

Lowe encourages his students to see what research has been done in areas which interest them.

“You may be surprised to see how much science has not yet investigated,” he said. “If you see a gap in what has been studied and have an interest in the topic it makes it much easier to stay motivated through the process.”

Finding a good mentor is vital, he added, since the research process has many nuances which are often best learned by experience.

Ongoing Achilles Tendon Pain Research

So far, Lowe and his students have collected approximately half of the data they hope to acquire during their Achilles tendon pain research project.

“The PCOM Georgia community has been great with assisting us so far in this project,” he said. “We have had a number of students, faculty, and staff participate. Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs and Information Technology Services have been instrumental in helping with recruitment.”

Lowe and his team are continuing to recruit study participants. Interested individuals with Achilles tendon pain which has lasted longer than three months can learn more about participating in the study by contacting Lowe at

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