Sports medicine and platelet-rich plasma: nonsurgical therapy

Sean T Grambart
Clinics in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery 2015, 32 (1): 99-107
A Cochrane Review was performed to assess the effects of platelet-rich therapies for treating musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. Selection criteria were randomized and quasirandomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared platelet-rich therapy with either placebo, autologous whole blood, dry needling, or no platelet-rich therapy for people with acute or chronic musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. Primary outcomes were functional status, pain, and adverse effects. The investigators found 19 studies that compared platelet-rich therapy with placebo, autologous whole blood, dry needling, or no platelet-rich therapy. Disorders included rotator cuff tears (arthroscopic repair; 6 trials); shoulder impingement syndrome surgery (1 trial); elbow epicondylitis (3 trials); anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction (4 trials), ACL reconstruction (donor graft site application; 2 trials), patellar tendinopathy (1 trial), Achilles tendinopathy (1 trial), and acute Achilles rupture surgical repair (1 trial). They further subdivided the studies based on type of treatment, including tendinopathies in which platelet-rich therapy injections were the main treatment (5 trials), and surgical augmentation procedures in which platelet-rich therapy was applied during surgery (14 trials). The conclusion was that there is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of platelet-rich therapy for treating musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. Researchers contemplating RCTs should consider the coverage of currently ongoing trials when assessing the need for future RCTs on specific conditions. There is a need for standardization of PRP preparation methods. At this time, the use of PRP in foot and ankle surgery as an orthobiologic does not have an absolute indication. Many of the studies are lower evidence-based from surgical techniques. Several in vitro studies have shown that growth factors promote the regeneration of bone, cartilage, and tendons. More clinical studies are needed to evaluate the use of PRP as an orthobiologic. In the author’s opinion, PRP does have a role when conservative treatment has failed and the next treatment option is an invasive surgical procedure

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