INJECTION THERAPIES: DO THEY WORK?
Recently we have noticed an increase in the number of people being offered injection therapies for management of their musculoskeletal conditions. The rise in popularity for such therapies has many patients asking – is there actually any scientific evidence to support this treatment approach?
What do we mean by injections therapies?
Injection therapies consist of treatments that inject blood products or cells (from the patient) into a joint, muscle or tendon. It is commonly used to treat acute muscle injuries and joint or tendon degeneration. We have seen a significant increase in one in particular, called platelet rich plasma, or PRP.
So what is PRP?
PRP is a component of the patient’s own blood. The blood is taken from the individual having the PRP injection. It is then put through a process of centrifugation, which separates the PRP from platelet poor blood and red blood.
What does PRP do?
PRP has an abundance of cells that stimulate and aid in healing of tissues within the body. It has been proposed that injection of PRP into an injured muscle or tendon will provide an optimal environment for healing or regeneration.
What does the science say?
PRP is commonly used in many different musculoskeletal problems. Two of the most commonly seen applications are in muscle strain injuries and tendon injuries. But there’s still some conjecture from a scientific perspective. Here are some key findings:
Muscle injuries: A recent systematic review demonstrated a distinct lack of quality human studies showing beneficial effects of PRP injections.
Achilles tendon: A systematic review regarding PRP use in chronic Achilles tendon problems failed to show that it is an effective treatment.
In summary, there is no concrete evidence supporting the use of PRP in commonly seen musculoskeletal conditions at this current time. With more research into the area this may very well change in the future. But for now we suggest that other treatment modalities commonly used by your physiotherapist is probably the best way to go.
About Josh: Josh is an experienced physiotherapist with a keen interest in musculoskeletal and sporting injuries. He is currently completing his Masters of Sports Physiotherapy at Latrobe University.
Vannini, F., Dimatteo, B., Filardo, G., Kon, K., Marcacci, M., & Giannini, S. (2014). Platelet-rich plasma for foot and ankle pathologies: A systematic review. Foot and Ankle Surgery, 20(1), 2-9.
Hamid, M. S., Yusof, A., & Mohamad Ali, M. R. (2014). Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Acute Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review. PlOS ONE, 9(2), 1-7.