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Injecting your own blood doesn’t help tendinitis

added May 20, 13 • updated Jun 6, 15
Tags: treatment, tendinosis, injections, pain problems, overuse injury, injury, medicine

PainSci summary of Bell 2013 ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for average studies, with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Utterly unsurprising: injecting your own blood doesn’t help tendinitis. Nice to have a decent new trial about this over-hyped therapy though: “The administration of two unguided peritendinous autologous blood injections one month apart, in addition to a standardised eccentric training programme, provides no additional benefit in the treatment of mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy.

original abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of two peritendinous autologous blood injections in addition to a standardised eccentric calf strengthening programme in improving pain and function in patients with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy.

DESIGN: Single centre, participant and single assessor blinded, parallel group, randomised, controlled trial.

SETTING: Single sports medicine clinic in New Zealand.

PARTICIPANTS: 53 adults (mean age 49, 53% men) with symptoms of unilateral mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy for at least three months. Participants were excluded if they had a history of previous Achilles tendon rupture or surgery or had undergone previous adjuvant treatments such as injectable therapies, glyceryl trinitrate patches, or extracorporeal shockwave therapy.

INTERVENTIONS: All participants underwent two unguided peritendinous injections one month apart with a standardised protocol. The treatment group had 3 mL of their own whole blood injected while the control group had no substance injected (needling only). Participants in both groups carried out a standardised and monitored 12 week eccentric calf training programme. Follow-up was at one, two, three and six months.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was the change in symptoms and function from baseline to six months with the Victorian Institute of Sport Assessment-Achilles (VISA-A) score. Secondary outcomes were the participant's perceived rehabilitation and their ability to return to sport.

RESULTS: 26 participants were randomly assigned to the treatment group and 27 to the control group. In total, 50 (94%) completed the six month study, with 25 in each group. Clear and clinically worthwhile improvements in the VISA-A score were evident at six months in both the treatment (change in score 18.7, 95% confidence interval 12.3 to 25.1) and control (19.9, 13.6 to 26.2) groups. The overall effect of treatment was not significant (P=0.689) and the 95% confidence intervals at all points precluded clinically meaningful benefit or harm. There was no significant difference between groups in secondary outcomes or in the levels of compliance with the eccentric calf strengthening programme. No adverse events were reported.

CONCLUSION: The administration of two unguided peritendinous autologous blood injections one month apart, in addition to a standardised eccentric training programme, provides no additional benefit in the treatment of mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy.

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