Platelet-rich plasma in the conservative treatment of painful tendinopathy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies

Br Med Bull. 2014 Jun;110(1):99-115. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldu007. Epub 2014 May 2.


Background: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) seeks to meet the multifaceted demand of degenerated tendons providing several molecules capable of boosting healing.

Areas timely for developing research: PRP is used for managing tendinopathy, but its efficacy is controversial.

Sources of data: Electronic databases were searched for clinical studies assessing PRP efficacy. Methodological quality was evaluated using the methods described in the Cochrane Handbook for systematic reviews.

Areas of agreement: Thirteen prospective controlled studies, comprising 886 patients and diverse tendons were included; 53.8% of studies used identical PRP protocol.

Areas of controversy: Sources of heterogeneity included different comparators, outcome scores, follow-up periods and diverse injection protocols, but not PRP formulation per se.

Growing points: Pooling pain outcomes over time and across different tendons showed that L-PRP injections ameliorated pain in the intermediate-long term compared with control interventions, weighted mean difference (95% CI): 3 months, -0.61 (-0.97, -0.25); 1 year, -1.56 (-2.27, -0.83). However, these findings cannot be applied to the management of individual patients given low power and precision.

Research: Further studies circumventing heterogeneity are needed to reach firm conclusions. Available evidence can help to overcome hurdles to future clinical research and bring forward PRP therapies.

Keywords: clinical trials; conservative management; meta-analysis; pain; platelet-rich plasma; tendinopathy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular / methods
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Platelet Transfusion / methods
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Research Design
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome