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Strong evidence against platelet-rich plasma injections for chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy: a systematic review

Robert-Jan de Vos, Johann Windt, Adam Weir
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2014, 48 (12): 952-6
24563387

BACKGROUND: Chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy is frequent in athletes, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is being used increasingly in its treatment.

OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the literature on the efficacy of PRP injections for chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy.

METHODS: The databases of PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Medline OvidSP, Scopus, Google Scholar, Web of Science and Cochrane Library were searched in October 2013. Inclusion criteria were a clinical diagnosis of chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy, a randomised controlled trial, an intervention with a PRP injection and the outcome measures described in terms of pain and/or function. One author screened the search results and two authors independently assessed the study quality using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) score. A study was considered to be of high quality if its PEDro score was ≥6. A best evidence synthesis was used to identify the level of evidence.

RESULTS: 6 studies were included, of which four were considered to be of high quality. Three high-quality studies (75%) and two low-quality studies showed no significant benefit at the final follow-up measurement or predefined primary outcome score when compared with a control group. One high-quality study (25%) showed a beneficial effect of a PRP injection when compared with a corticosteroid injection (corticosteroid injections are harmful in tendinopathy). Based on the best evidence synthesis, there is strong evidence that PRP injections are not efficacious in chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy.

CONCLUSIONS: There is strong evidence that PRP injections are not efficacious in the management of chronic lateral elbow tendinopathy.

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