Comparison of Pain Measures Between Tendons of Elite Basketball Players With Different Sonographic Patterns

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: The prevalence and negative consequences of the symptoms surrounding patellar tendinopathy constitute an important problem for sports medicine professionals. The identification of potential pain mediators is, therefore, of major interest to improve both the prevention and management of this injury. Objective: To compare the pain experienced by elite male adult basketball players and patterns of patellar tendon abnormalities. Also, to identify whether structural and vascular sonographic abnormalities (focal area of hypoechogenicity, thickening, and neovascularization [NV]) are equal in determining pain perceptions. Design: An observational study with professional basketball teams (ACB—Spanish league). Participants: A total of 73 male basketball players (mean age 26.8 y). Main Outcome Measures: Patellar tendon ultrasonography images. Pain scores were compared between the identified patterns. Multiple regression analysis was used to examine the relative importance of abnormalities. Results: Of the 146 tendons, 91 had some degree of sonographic abnormality. Three main patterns were identified: I (1 structural abnormality without NV), II (2 structural abnormalities without NV), and III (2 structural abnormalities and NV). A total of 31 tendons (21.2%) exhibited pattern I, 46 (31.5%) presented pattern II, and 13 tendons (8.9%) exhibited pattern III. The mean visual analog scale and the Victorian Institute of Sport assessment questionnaire—patellar tendon (VISA-P) scores for pattern III were significantly different (P < .05) compared with patterns I and II; however, the pain pressure threshold (PPT) scores were not. NV was significantly associated with worsened scores for all pain measures; however, the focal area of hypoechogenicity was only associated with PPT scores. Conclusion: Patterns of sonographic abnormalities, including NV, demonstrated greater pain. Although NV determined scores for the visual analog scale, VISA-P, and PPT, the presence of focal area of hypoechogenicity on its own is a determining factor for the PPT. This study suggests that the combination of 2 or more sonographic abnormalities may help explain pain variations among basketball players.

Benítez-Martínez and Casaña-Granell are with the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain. Martínez-Ramírez is with ACB team, Valencia Basket Club, Valencia, Spain. Valera-Garrido is with MVClinic, Madrid, Spain; and has a Master’s degree in Invasive Physiotherapy Techniques, CEU San Pablo University, Madrid, Spain. Medina-Mirapeix is with the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain.

Benitez-Martinez (josep.benitez@uv.es) is corresponding author.
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