Effect of electroacupuncture stimulation on long-term recovery following Achilles tendon rupture in a rat model

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Abstract

Aims

In this study we examined the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation on the mechanical strength of the rat Achilles tendon after long-term recovery.

Methods

Using 20 rats, an Achilles tendon rupture model was created in an invasive manner. The rats were assigned to one of three groups, that received EA treatment (EA group), minimal acupuncture (MA group) or remained untreated (Control group). In the EA group, EA stimulation (5 ms, 50 Hz, 20 μA, 20 min) was applied to the rupture region over a period of 90 days (five times/week). In the MA group, needles were inserted into the same positions as in the EA group but no electrical current was applied. After 90 days the tendon was measured to calculate the cross-sectional area of the rupture region. Then, the mechanical strength of the tendon was measured by tensile testing.

Results

No significant differences were observed between the three groups in cross-sectional area of the injured tendon. For maximum breaking strength, the EA group showed a significantly higher threshold compared with the Control group (P<0.05) but not the MA group (P=0.24). No significant difference was seen between the MA group and the Control group (P=0.96).

Conclusion

Given the EA group showed a significant increase in maximum breaking strength, it is likely that EA stimulation increases the mechanical strength of a repaired tendon after long-term recovery, and EA stimulation could be useful for preventing re-rupture.

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