Objectives: The efficacy of platelet rich plasma in the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy is controversial. Despite positive results observed in open studies, randomized controlled trials failed to show difference against saline or rehabilitation. Aims of this retrospective observational study were to compare the efficacy of platelet-rich plasma and dry needling and to assess possible differences age and sex-related.
Methods: Groups of 46 and 38 patients with non-insertional Achilles tendinopathy were treated with platelet-rich plasma and dry needling (once a week for 3 weeks), respectively. At baseline, 3 and 6 months, pain and function scores and the percentage of satisfactory outcomes were evaluated. Sub-group analyses were performed according to age and sex.
Results: At 3 and 6 months no differences in terms of pain and function between groups were observed, but the percentage of subjects reporting satisfactory results, at 6 months, was higher in platelet rich plasma group. Better results were observed in younger subjects, with a greater reduction of pain, improvement of function, and accordingly of the percentage of positive outcomes. A trend toward better results was also observed in males.
Conclusion: Beneficial effects of platelet rich plasma and dry needling in non-insertional Achilles tendinopathy have been observed only in some subjects, but not in others; platelet rich plasma shows a slight superiority against dry needling, mainly in younger persons; finally, a gender difference in the therapeutic response can be hypothesized.
Keywords: Achilles tendinopathy; dry needling; gender; platelet-rich plasma.