Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is an emerging treatment modality that utilizes a rich milleau of platelets and growth factors within a patient’s own blood to potentially promote healing of damaged tissue. In recent years, a growing volume of research, including meta-analyses (a statistical analysis that combines the results from multiple scientific studies), have been conducted on the effectiveness and safety of PRP. However, few meta-analyses have focused exclusively on tendon and ligament injuries.
In a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, a team of researchers at the University of Southern California conducted a meta-analysis to assess the ability of PRP to reduce pain in patients with tendon and ligament injuries. The meta-analysis drew data from 37 research articles with over 1000+ patients across the articles.The majority of studies investigated rotator cuff injuries or lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). To determine if PRP was effective in relieving pain, the researchers compared pain intensity between studies using the visual analog scale (VAS). The meta-analysis focused only on rotator cuff injuries, tendinopathy (tendon injuries), ACL injuries, and lateral epicondylitis.
The meta-analysis found evidence that suggested PRP could provide both short-term and long-term pain relief for tendon and ligament injuries in comparison to other alternative treatments. Specifically, PRP was associated with less pain for rotator cuff injuries and lateral epicondylitis; the other injuries mentioned yielded insufficient evidence. The review also did not find any significant adverse events with any of the 1937 unique patients treated with PRP. While PRP has been shown to be safe and could be effective, the research team acknowledged that more research was required before any recommendations could be made, citing a lack of standardization as the greatest limiting factor for PRP. More universal, high-quality evidence on the optimal preparation, dosage, and effectiveness is needed before any recommendation can be issued.