Background: Recently, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used as an alternative therapy for plantar fasciitis (PF) to reduce heel pain and improve functional restoration. We evaluated the current evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of PRP as a treatment for PF compared with the efficacy and safety of steroid treatments.
Methods: Databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library) were searched from their establishment to January 30, 2017, for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing PRP with steroid injections as treatments for PF. The Cochrane risk of bias (ROB) tool was used to assess the methodological quality. Outcome measurements were the visual analogue scale (VAS), Foot and Ankle Disability Index (FADI), American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) scale, and the Roles and Maudsley score (RMS). The statistical analysis was performed with RevMan 5.3.5 software.
Results: Nine RCTs (n = 430) were included in this meta-analysis. Significant differences in the VAS were not observed between the 2 groups after 4 [weighted mean difference (WMD) = 0.56, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): -1.10 to 2.23, P = .51, I = 89%] or 12 weeks of treatment (WMD = -0.49, 95% CI: -1.42 to 0.44, P = .30, I = 89%). However, PRP exhibited better efficacy than the steroid treatment after 24 weeks (WMD = -0.95, 95% CI: -1.80 to -0.11, P = .03, I = 85%). Moreover, no significant differences in the FADI, AOFAS, and RMS were observed between the 2 therapies (P > .05).
Conclusion: Limited evidence supports the conclusion that PRP is superior to steroid treatments for long-term pain relief; however, significant differences were not observed between short and intermediate effects. Because of the small sample size and the limited number of high-quality RCTs, additional high-quality RCTs with larger sample sizes are required to validate this result.