JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Effect of High-Volume Injection, Platelet-Rich Plasma, and Sham Treatment in Chronic Midportion Achilles Tendinopathy: A Randomized Double-Blinded Prospective Study

Anders Ploug Boesen, Rudi Hansen, Morten Ilum Boesen, Peter Malliaras, Henning Langberg
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2017, 45 (9): 2034-2043
28530451

BACKGROUND: Injection therapies are often considered alongside exercise for chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy (AT), although evidence of their efficacy is sparse.

PURPOSE: To determine whether eccentric training in combination with high-volume injection (HVI) or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections improves outcomes in AT.

STUDY DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1.

METHODS: A total of 60 men (age, 18-59 years) with chronic (>3 months) AT were included and followed for 6 months (n = 57). All participants performed eccentric training combined with either (1) one HVI (steroid, saline, and local anesthetic), (2) four PRP injections each 14 days apart, or (3) placebo (a few drops of saline under the skin). Randomization was stratified for age, function, and symptom severity (Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment-Achilles [VISA-A]). Outcomes included function and symptoms (VISA-A), self-reported tendon pain during activity (visual analog pain scale [VAS]), tendon thickness and intratendinous vascularity (ultrasonographic imaging and Doppler signal), and muscle function (heel-rise test). Outcomes were assessed at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24 weeks of follow-up.

RESULTS: VISA-A scores improved in all groups at all time points ( P < .05), with greater improvement in the HVI group (mean ± SEM, 6 weeks = 27 ± 3 points; 12 weeks = 29 ± 4 points) versus PRP (6 weeks = 14 ± 4; 12 weeks = 15 ± 3) and placebo (6 weeks = 10 ± 3; 12 weeks = 11 ± 3) at 6 and 12 weeks ( P < .01) and in the HVI (22 ± 5) and PRP (20 ± 5) groups versus placebo (9 ± 3) at 24 weeks ( P < .01). VAS scores improved in all groups at all time points ( P < .05), with greater decrease in HVI (6 weeks = 49 ± 4 mm; 12 weeks = 45 ± 6 mm; 24 weeks = 34 ± 6 mm) and PRP (6 weeks = 37 ± 7 mm; 12 weeks = 41 ± 7 mm; 24 weeks = 37 ± 6 mm) versus placebo (6 weeks = 23 ± 6 mm; 12 weeks = 30 ± 5 mm; 24 weeks = 18 ± 6 mm) at all time points ( P < .05) and in HVI versus PRP at 6 weeks ( P < .05). Tendon thickness showed a significant decrease only in HVI and PRP groups during the intervention, and this was greater in the HVI versus PRP and placebo groups at 6 and 12 weeks ( P < .05) and in the HVI and PRP groups versus the placebo group at 24 weeks ( P < .05). Muscle function improved in the entire cohort with no difference between the groups.

CONCLUSION: Treatment with HVI or PRP in combination with eccentric training in chronic AT seems more effective in reducing pain, improving activity level, and reducing tendon thickness and intratendinous vascularity than eccentric training alone. HVI may be more effective in improving outcomes of chronic AT than PRP in the short term. Registration: NCT02417987 ( ClinicalTrials.gov identifier).

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