Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: Is it worth all the hype?
Tendon and muscle injuries are some of the most common orthopaedic conditions treated in physiotherapy. There is a wide variety of treatment options for these injuries including physical therapy, medications, and different modalities. In recent years, platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy has become the miracle injection that a lot of athletes are praising for their quick return to sport following injury.
PRP therapy involves drawing blood from the patient, which is then placed in a centrifuge, a machine that separates the different blood cells. The platelet rich portion is then injected into the area of injury, which should stimulate the healing of tissue. With all the hype around this therapy, recent research has focused on whether or not it actually works. Three meta-analyses done by Andia et al., (2014), Sheth et al., (2012) and De Vos et al., (2010) examined whether PRP injections were beneficial in treating tendinopathy of the shoulder, elbow, knee, plantar fascia or Achilles.
Their results consistently demonstrated that PRP injections were found to be no more effective in improving quality of life, pain, and/or function when compared to a control group.
Despite the negative findings, all the researchers agreed that the evidence is limited because of the poor quality of the available studies. Improving the methodology in future studies may help support the use of PRP therapy. If you’re suffering from a tendon or muscle injury and think a PRP injection will get you back on your feet quickly, it’s probably best to save your money and first explore physiotherapy that utilizes treatments that have strong evidence, such as low level laser and eccentric exercise programs, before considering a more expensive PRP therapy.
Andia I, et al. Platelet rich plasma in the conservative treatment of painful tendinopathy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies. British Medical Bulletin 2014;110:99-115.
De Vos RJ, et al. Autologous growth factor injections in chronic tendinopathy : A systematic review. British Medical Bulletin 2010; 95:63-77.
Sheth U, et al. Efficacy of autologous platelet rich plasma use for orthopaedic indications: A meta-analysis. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2012; 94 (4):298-307.