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For Achilles Overuse, Plasma Injections Look No Better Than Placebo

Increasingly popular procedure unwarranted for chronic tendinopathy, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A new treatment for overuse injury of the Achilles tendon doesn't appear to be effective, a new study shows.

Researchers in the Netherlands concluded that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are no better than placebo in reducing pain or improving a patient's ability to be active.

The study included 54 patients, aged 18 to 70, with chronic Achilles tendinopathy. All the patients did eccentric exercises (stretching the Achilles tendon while contracting the calf muscle) and were randomly selected to receive either a PRP injection or saline injection. Both groups showed significant improvement in pain reduction and increased activity within 24 weeks after the start of the study.

"Among patients with chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy treated with an eccentric exercise program, a PRP injection compared with a saline injection did not result in greater improvement in pain and activity. Therefore, we do not recommend this treatment for chronic midportion Achilles tendinopathy," wrote Dr. Robert J. de Vos, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, and colleagues.

"These findings are important and clinically relevant as PRP is thought to be growing in popularity and recent reviews supported its use for chronic tendon disorders," they added.

The study appears in the Jan. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has more about achilles tendon problems.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Jan. 12, 2010

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