Muscle and tendon injuries: the role of biological interventions to promote and assist healing and recovery

Arthroscopy. 2015 May;31(5):999-1015. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2014.11.024. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


Purpose: To summarize clinical studies after platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for tendinopathy, plantar fasciopathy, and muscle injuries; to review PRP formulations used across studies; and to identify knowledge deficits that require further investigation.

Methods: After a systematic review in PubMed, we identified clinical studies assessing PRP efficacy in tendon and muscle during the past decade. We standardized data extraction by grouping studies based on anatomic location; summarized patient populations, PRP formulations, and clinical outcomes; and identified knowledge deficits that require further investigation.

Results: Overall, 1,541 patients had been treated with PRP in 58 clinical studies; of these, 26 addressed upper limb tendinopathies and 32 addressed the lower limb (810 patients and 731 patients treated with PRP, respectively). The quality of research is higher for the upper limb than for the lower limb (23 controlled studies, of which 17 are Level I, v 19 controlled studies, of which 6 are Level I, respectively). Patients have been treated mostly with leukocyte-platelet-rich plasma, except in the arthroscopic management of the rotator cuff. The safety and efficacy of PRP for muscle injuries has been addressed in 7 studies including 182 patients. Differences across results are mainly attributed to dissimilarities between tissues and different stages of degeneration, numbers of PRP applications, and protocols.

Conclusions: Given the heterogeneity in tendons and tendinopathies, currently, we are not able to decide whether PRP therapies are useful. Despite advances in PRP science, data are insufficient and there is a clear need to optimize protocols and obtain more high-quality clinical data in both tendinopathies and muscle injuries before making treatment recommendations.

Level of evidence: Level IV, systematic review of Level I through IV studies.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / therapy
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Regeneration*
  • Tendon Injuries / therapy*