University of Wisconsin–Madison

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy for Patellar Tendinopathy: A Randomized Controlled Trial Correlating Clinical, Biomechanical and Novel Imaging Biomarkers

February 2017 to April 2021

Patellar tendinopathy (PT), also known as Jumper’s knee, is a common disabling tendon injury that is highly prevalent in sports, especially amongst basketball and volleyball players. PT is especially prevalent in elite basketball players and is responsible for significant morbidity both during and after an athlete’s career. In fact, about half of elite athletes affected by PT have to quit their sport. Treatment of PT remains a challenge and conservative therapies often do not help. Since surgery may not be a good option when considering longer recovery times and return to play, a new minimally invasive treatment alternative must be considered. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is an emerging treatment option using concentrated platelets made from the patient’s own blood containing healing growth factors. Recent exponential use of PRP has been in the area of sports-related tendon overuse injuries such as PT. Currently, it has been estimated that about 100,000 elite athletes are injected with PRP annually, but the frequency of use is likely under reported. The main growth driver came from the media’s attention on well-known professional athletes reporting a quicker and more durable return to activity after PRP rather than foundational evidence-based decisions from a well-designed randomized control trial (RCT). Therefore, we propose a double-blinded RCT to investigate if PRP is effective for treating PT compared to dry needling (without concentrated healing growth factors) and placebo control groups. Positive outcomes from this study would establish an effective non-surgical treatment option for PT and demonstrate that healing changes of the tendon can be followed using new MRI and ultrasound imaging exams.

This project led by: Kenneth S Lee, MD