What is the efficacy of platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections compared to autologous blood injections for lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)?

Updated: Oct 30, 2018
  • Author: Bryant James Walrod, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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A study was published in August 2011 comparing PRP therapy injections to autologous blood injections in 28 patients who had symptoms of lateral epicondylitis for greater than 3 months. Patients were instructed on home physical therapy consisting of eccentric exercises. Reevaluation was done at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months to assess symptoms on a VAS pain scale and a Liverpool elbow score, which measured range of motion, activity level, and ulnar nerve function. On the VAS scale, both groups demonstrated improvements at all follow-up appointments. The PRP group had better results at each visit, with statistically better results at 6 weeks. Both groups also showed improvements on the Liverpool elbow score at all visits, with no significant differences noted. [16]

Also in 2011, Creany et al compared PRP injections to autologous blood injections in 130 individuals with refractory symptoms of lateral epicondylitis in whom conservative physical therapy had failed. These injections were performed under ultrasound guidance, and each group had two injections, initial visit and then 1 month later. The outcome measured was the Patient-Related Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE) score. Success was defined as a 25-point improvement in this score. Measurements were obtained a 0, 1, 3, and 6 months. At 6 months, there was a 66% success rate in the PRP group and a 72% success rate in the autologous blood group. However, 20% of the autologous blood group went on to have surgery, versus 10% of the PRP group. [31]

More recently in 2013, Raeisadat et al performed a randomized clinical trial involving 40 patients who had symptoms consistent with lateral epicondylitis for greater than 3 months. They looked at improvement in pain and function when comparing PRP with autologous blood. Both groups were given a counterforce brace and a home exercise program. At 4 weeks, Mayo and visual analogue scale (VAS) scores significantly improved in both the PRP and the autologous blood groups. However, only the PRP group demonstrated significant improvement at 8 weeks with respect to the VAS and Mayo scores. [32]

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