PRP Injections No Better Than Placebo for Achilles Tendon Injuries, Study Finds

WebMD Health News—New York, NY—January 12, 2010

Injecting injured Achilles tendons with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is no more effective than dummy injections when it comes to alleviating pain and improving activity levels, according to a new study in the Jan. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Much hope has been pinned on the use of these injections to heal tendon injuries without surgery. PRP injections involve taking some of the patient’s blood and isolating the platelet-rich plasma, which contains proteins and other substances that play a role in healing. This PRP is then injected into the tendon area to speed the healing process, reduce pain, and improve function.

Don’t jump to any conclusions based on one study, says Brian Halpern, M.D., an associate attending physician at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, who routinely uses PRP to treat tendon problems.

Although he is happy to see this treatment being studied in such a rigorous manner, the new study did not use imaging to see if the PRP injections changed the structure and helped to regenerate the damaged tendon.

Perhaps, just needling the tendon - which was done with both PRP and saline injection - stimulates the body’s own platelets to congregate in the injured area and speed the healing process. “The saline may look good because of the needling,” he says.

Still, “the improvement is not as great as I would have expected,” he says. “For me, the jury is still out and we need to do more studies and take it from there.”

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