Background: Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. Corticosteroid injections are commonly used and proven to be effective, and lately platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used with mixed results.
Purpose: To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing intralesional injections of PRP and steroid infiltration.
Study design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods: A systematic review of Medline, Embase, Scopus, and Google Scholar including all level 1 and 2 studies from 2010 to 2019 was perfomed. American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society and visual analog scale for pain scores were used as outcome variables. Publication bias and risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration tools. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations system was used to assess the quality of the body of evidence. Heterogeneity was assessed with χ2 and I2 statistics.
Results: Fifteen studies were included in the analysis. Nine studies had a high risk of bias. There was 1 study with high quality, 9 with moderate, 2 studies with low, and 3 with very low quality. The pooled estimate for the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society score demonstrated nonsignificant differences at 1 month (P = .4) and 3 months (P = .076). At 6 months (P = .009) and 12 months (P = .009), it indicated significant differences in favor of PRP. The pooled estimate for visual analog scale demonstrated nonsignificant differences at 1 month (P = .653). At 3 months (P = .0001), 6 months (P = .002), and 12 months (P = .019), it yielded significant differences in favor of PRP.
Conclusion: The results of this systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that PRP is superior to corticosteroid injections for pain control at 3 months and lasts up to 1 year. In the short term, there is no advantage of corticosteroid infiltration. However, the low study quality, high risk of bias, and different protocols for PRP preparation reduce the internal and external validity of these findings, and these results must be viewed with caution.
Keywords: PRP; autologous conditioned plasma (ACP); heel pain; meta-analysis; plantar fasciitis; platelet-rich plasma; systematic review.