Platelet-rich plasma treatment for ligament and tendon injuries

Clin J Sport Med. 2011 Jan;21(1):37-45. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31820758c7.


Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is derived from centrifuging whole blood, has a platelet concentration higher than that of the whole blood, is the cellular component of plasma that settles after centrifugation, and contains numerous growth factors. There is increasing interest in the sports medicine and athletic community about providing endogenous growth factors directly to the injury site, using autologous blood products such as PRP, to potentially facilitate healing and earlier return to sport after musculoskeletal injury. Despite this interest, and apparent widespread use, there is a lack of high-level evidence regarding randomized clinical trials assessing the efficacy of PRP in treating ligament and tendon injuries. Basic science and animal studies and small case series reports on PRP injections for ligament or tendon injuries, but few randomized controlled clinical trials have assessed the efficacy of PRP injections and none have demonstrated scientific evidence of efficacy. Scientific studies should be performed to assess clinical indications, efficacy, and safety of PRP, and this will require appropriately powered randomized controlled trials with adequate and validated clinical and functional outcome measures and sound statistical analysis. Other aspects of PRP use that need to be determined are (1) volume of injection/application, (2) most effective preparation, (3) buffering/activation, (4) injection technique (1 depot vs multiple depots), (5) timing of injection to injury, (6) single application versus series of injections, and (7) the most effective rehabilitation protocol to use after PRP injection. With all proposed treatments, the doctor and the patient should weigh up potential benefits of treatment, potential risks, and costs. Based on the limited publications to date and theoretical considerations, the potential risks involved with PRP are fortunately very low. However, benefits remain unproven to date, particularly when comparing PRP with other injections for ligament and tendon injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligaments / injuries*
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rats
  • Sheep, Domestic
  • Sports Medicine
  • Tendon Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Tendon Injuries / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins