The efficacy of using platelet rich plasma in treating chronic tendinopathies
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As a common source of long-term pain and physical disability, overuse injuries, such as chronic tendinopathies, severely impact a patient’s quality of life. Caused by repetitive trauma, chronic tendinopathies affect hundreds of millions of people each year. The exact pathogenic mechanism in developing this musculoskeletal injury is still largely unknown, making clinical recommendations on the best course of treatment highly debatable. Nonetheless, advancements in biotechnology have made autologous blood products, specifically the use of platelet rich plasma injections, an increasingly popular method in the orthopedic field. Studies have shown that the concentrated platelet sample harbors a number of bioactive mediators. Once activated and injected at the site of injury, these growth factors and cytokines augment the natural healing process in tendinopathic cases. With limited reported complications, many clinicians believe that platelet rich plasma therapy is a safe and accessible treatment option for patients diagnosed with chronic tendinopathy. As such, the primary purpose of this paper is to determine the efficacy of platelet rich plasma injections in treating chronic tendinopathies. This literature review determined that current published studies and research on the effectiveness of PRP injections have produced contradictory results. Due to its autologous characteristic, platelet concentration differs significantly from patient to patient, contributing to high variability in terms of its effectiveness between patients. However, with low long-term costs and fast recovery, PRP injections are a promising, non-surgical intervention for treating chronic tendinopathies. Several patient-centered clinical studies have reported significant improvements in range of motion and pain management when compared to traditional injection treatments. These effects are maximized when administered under ultrasound guidance or when used in conjunction with a strict eccentric exercise program. Nonetheless, continued research is needed to determine optimal injection standards so that clinical recommendations can be further developed and supported.