Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Use of Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) for Acute Ankle Sprains in the Emergency Department

J Emerg Med. 2015 Oct;49(4):546-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2015.03.021. Epub 2015 Jun 3.


Background: Over 23,000 people per day require treatment for ankle sprains. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an autologous concentration of platelets that is thought to improve healing by promoting inflammation through growth factor and cytokine release. Studies to date have shown mixed results, with few randomized trials.

Objectives: To determine patient function among patients randomized to receive standard therapy plus PRP, compared to patients who receive standard therapy plus sham injection (placebo).

Methods: Prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Patients with severe ankle sprains were randomized. Severity was graded on degree of swelling, ecchymosis, and ability to bear weight. PRP with lidocaine and bupivacaine was injected at the point of maximum tenderness by a blinded physician under ultrasound guidance. The control group was injected in a similar fashion with sterile 0.9% saline. Both groups had visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores and Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS) on days 0, 3, and 8. LEFS and a numeric pain score were obtained via phone call on day 30. All participants were splinted, given crutches, and instructed to not bear weight for 3 days; at this time patients were reevaluated.

Results: There were 1156 patients screened and 37 were enrolled. Four withdrew before PRP injection was complete; 18 were randomized to PRP and 15 to placebo. There was no statistically significant difference in VAS and LEFS scores between groups.

Conclusion: In this small study, PRP did not provide benefit in either pain control or function over placebo.

Keywords: ankle sprain; platelet rich plasma; sports medicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Transfusion / methods*
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tendinopathy / therapy
  • Young Adult