Objective: To compare the effects of platelet-rich plasma injection with those of dry needling on shoulder pain and function in patients with rotator cuff disease.
Design: A single-centre, prospective, randomized, double-blinded, controlled study.
Setting: University rehabilitation hospital.
Participants: Thirty-nine patients with a supraspinatus tendon lesion (tendinosis or a partial tear less than 1.0 cm, but not a complete tear) who met the inclusion criteria recruited between June 2010 and February 2011.
Intervention: Two dry needling procedures in the control group and two platelet-rich plasma injections in the experimental group were applied to the affected shoulder at four-week intervals using ultrasound guidance.
Measurements: The Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, passive range of motion of the shoulder, a physician global rating scale at the six-month follow-up, adverse effects monitoring and an ultrasound measurement were used as outcome measures.
Results: The clinical effect of the platelet-rich plasma injection was superior to the dry needling from six weeks to six months after initial injection (P < 0.05). At six months the mean Shoulder Pain and Disability Index was 17.7 ± 3.7 in the platelet-rich plasma group versus 29.5 ± 3.8 in the dry needling group (P < 0.05). No severe adverse effects were observed in either group.
Conclusions: Autologous platelet-rich plasma injections lead to a progressive reduction in the pain and disability when compared to dry needling. This benefit is certainly still present at six months after treatment. These findings suggest that treatment with platelet-rich plasma injections is safe and useful for rotator cuff disease.