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Plasma injection for Achilles tendon found ineffective

January 12, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Heel Injecting plasma into the Achilles tendon is not helpful in reducing pain or increasing mobility, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Injection of platelet-rich plasma for chronic Achilles tendinopathy is increasingly popular. The injury is an overuse disorder that often affects athletes but also inactive middle-aged people. The platelet-rich plasma injection is thought to release growth factors that assist in tissue repair. The study, by researchers in the Netherlands, was a randomized, blinded clinical trial that assigned 54 patients with the disorder to either exercise with the plasma injection or exercise with a saline injection (the placebo treatment). The participants were given questionnaires to gauge pain and activity levels at weeks six, 12 and 24 of treatment. But participants in both groups improved significantly after 24 weeks. There was no additional benefit from receiving the plasma injection.

The treatment should not be recommended, said the authors of the study.

"The reason why both treatment groups show clinical progress in our study, but also in other studies on platelet-rich plasma, is likely due to the fact that exercises were performed," they wrote.

- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha  /  Los Angeles Times