PRP injections have become a frequently used treatment for painful muscle and tendon injuries despite there being no rigorous studies of its effectiveness. PRP involves the drawing of blood from the injured patient, spinning it down to collect the platelets and then injecting the platelets into the injured tissue. The rationale is that platelets will provide growth factors that will make you heal faster.
A study reported on in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine found that athletes with hamstring injuries recovered no better with PRP than with placebo (a salt water injection). In a randomized double blind controlled study (RCT), in which 80 recreational and professional athletes with hamstring injuries received either PRP or placebo injections, there was no difference in the average amount of time it took for each group to return to normal activities. In other words, in this study, injections with salt water were as effective as the $1600 injection of platelets. It is often difficult to treat pain related to muscles and tendons. For anyone in pain, a suggested treatment that can get you better faster and is offered by respected physicians is hard to resist. The problem is that without carefully studying a new procedure, compared to a similar control treatment, it is not possible to be sure that the new treatment actually works better. This first RCT of PRP for hamstring injuries suggests that it may not be a reasonable approach to painful muscle injuries.
If the assessment of muscle pain was a routine part of the physical examination, time, money and suffering could be minimized. At the Norman Marcus Pain Institute, our approach to painful muscles following injury is based on the work of my mentor, Hans Kraus, M.D., President JFK’s physician for the treatment of his back pain. Painful muscles are frequently the result of tension, weakness, stiffness, spasm or altered muscle tissue (usually referred to as trigger points).
At the Norman Marcus Pain Institute, our physical examination tests for all these causes of pain so that the simplest cost effective treatments can be provided prior to using any invasive procedures. Sometimes severe pain is quickly eliminated with our exercise, electrical stimulation and laser protocols that are described in detail in my book End Back Pain Forever. Your pain may require medication and injections, because one size does not fit all.
 Moraes VY, Lenza M, Tamoki MJ, Faloppa F, Belloti JC. Platelet-rich therapies for musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013.
 Reurink G, Goudswaard GJ, et al. Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections in Acute Muscle Injury. N Engl J Med. 2014:370:2546-2547.
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