Background Chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy is frequent in athletes, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is being used increasingly in its treatment.
Objective To systematically review the literature on the efficacy of PRP injections for chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy.
Methods The databases of PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Medline OvidSP, Scopus, Google Scholar, Web of Science and Cochrane Library were searched in October 2013. Inclusion criteria were a clinical diagnosis of chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy, a randomised controlled trial, an intervention with a PRP injection and the outcome measures described in terms of pain and/or function. One author screened the search results and two authors independently assessed the study quality using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) score. A study was considered to be of high quality if its PEDro score was ≥6. A best evidence synthesis was used to identify the level of evidence.
Results 6 studies were included, of which four were considered to be of high quality. Three high-quality studies (75%) and two low-quality studies showed no significant benefit at the final follow-up measurement or predefined primary outcome score when compared with a control group. One high-quality study (25%) showed a beneficial effect of a PRP injection when compared with a corticosteroid injection (corticosteroid injections are harmful in tendinopathy). Based on the best evidence synthesis, there is strong evidence that PRP injections are not efficacious in chronic lateral epicondylar tendinopathy.
Conclusions There is strong evidence that PRP injections are not efficacious in the management of chronic lateral elbow tendinopathy.
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