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This article is the author’s final published version in Cureus, Volume 15, Issue 6, June 2023, Article number e39994.

The published version is available at © Copyright 2023 Carmody et al.


Tendinopathy is a common condition with treatments focused on local tissue adaptations. Externally paced loading programs are designed to cue (visually, auditorily, or temporally) a person as to when to perform an exercise repetition during a set of repetitions. Externally paced loading programs propose central and peripheral changes with tendinopathy but conclusions regarding their efficacy on pain outcomes remain limited. Our review seeks to explore the efficacy of externally paced loading as a method to reduce self-reported pain in tendinopathic conditions. An electronic database search was conducted of PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Scopus, and CINAHL databases. A total of 2,104 studies were identified after a preliminary search; four reviewers narrowed the selection to seven articles based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Articles selected for review (patellar = three, Achilles = two, rotator cuff = one, and lateral elbow tendinopathy = one) were randomized control trials assessing the externally paced loading programs' efficacy on tendon pain compared to the control; all were included in the meta-analysis. This review identified no superiority in externally paced loading compared to alternative treatment. There were potential population differences between non-athletic and athletic populations as identified with subgroup analyses. Current activity levels, region of tendinopathy, and chronicity of symptoms may explain the variability of findings. There is little clinically significant evidence to support the use of externally paced loading programs for reducing tendon pain over standard clinical care based on a low level of certainty which is based on the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations (GRADE) of articles included in the review. Clinicians should interpret outcomes between athletic and non-athletic participants with caution as further high-quality studies are required to confirm specific clinical outcomes in these populations.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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