Background: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used in different non-transfusion indications due to its role in tissue regeneration and healing. The aim of this overview of systematic reviews (umbrella review) is to provide a summary of the existing research syntheses related to PRP use for sports-related muscle, tendon and ligament injuries.
Materials and methods: Literature searches were performed in MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Library to identify systematic reviews focusing on PRP use for sports-related muscle, tendon and ligament injuries. The methodological quality of included studies was assessed using the checklist for systematic reviews and research syntheses developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute and the GRADE assessment.
Results: Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria. Five studies evaluated PRP use for acute muscle injury, and 17 evaluated PRP use for tendon and ligament injury. Studies were heterogeneous in terms of the dose and number of PRP injections, and the control groups. Three of the 5 reviews evaluating acute muscle injury concluded that PRP had no effect on the outcomes considered. One review shows superior efficacy of rehabilitation exercise compared to PRP. One review shows that PRP may result in an earlier return to sport for acute grade I-II injury. Eight out of the 17 reviews evaluating PRP for tendon and ligament injuries show a statistically significant (p<0.05) difference in pain and/or function outcome measures favouring PRP compared to controls, although most of the observed differences were small. Adverse events data and quality of life outcomes were rarely analysed or reported in the included studies and were considered clinically insignificant.
Discussion: In most of the included reviews, the available evidence was judged to be of low/very low quality due to risk of bias, inconsistency and imprecision, thus making the level of certainty of these findings low and not adequate to support the general use of PRP in this setting.