Platelet-Rich Plasma Shortens Return to Play in National Football League Players With Acute Hamstring Injuries

Orthop J Sports Med. 2020 Apr 17;8(4):2325967120911731. doi: 10.1177/2325967120911731. eCollection 2020 Apr.


Background: Hamstring injuries are prevalent in professional athletes and can lead to significant time loss, with recurrent injury being common. The efficacy of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for augmentation of nonoperative treatment of partial musculotendinous hamstring injuries is not well established.

Hypothesis: The addition of PRP injections to nonoperative treatment for acute partial musculotendinous hamstring injuries will lead to a shortened return to play in National Football League (NFL) players.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: NFL players from a single team who sustained acute grade 2 hamstring injuries, as diagnosed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by a musculoskeletal radiologist from 2009 to 2018, were retrospectively reviewed. Average days, practices, and games missed were recorded. Players who did and did not receive PRP (leukocyte-poor) injections were compared. Those who received PRP did so within 24 to 48 hours after injury.

Results: A total of 108 NFL players had MRI evidence of a hamstring injury, and of those, 69 athletes sustained grade 2 injuries. Thirty players received augmented treatment with PRP injections and 39 players underwent nonoperative treatment alone. Average time missed in those treated with PRP injections was 22.5 days, 18.2 practices, and 1.3 games. In those who did not receive PRP injections, time missed was 25.7 days (P = .81), 22.8 practices (P = .68), and 2.9 games (P < .05).

Conclusion: Augmentation with PRP injections for acute grade 2 hamstring injuries in NFL players showed no significant difference in days missed or time to return to practice but did allow for faster return to play, with a 1 game overall difference. Owing to the possible large financial impact of returning to play 1 game sooner, PRP injections for treatment of grade 2 hamstring injuries may be advantageous in professional athletes.

Keywords: autologous conditioned plasma; biologic enhancement; hamstring injury; muscle injury; platelet-rich plasma.