Platelet Rich Plasma and Platelet-Related Products in the Treatment of Radiculopathy-A Systematic Review of the Literature
Back pain with radicular symptoms is associated with detrimental physical and emotional functioning and economic burden. Conservative treatments including physical, pharmacologic and injection therapy may not provide clinically significant or long-standing relief. Regenerative medicine research including Platelet rich plasma (PRP), Platelet lysate (PL) or Plasma rich in growth factors (PRGF) continues to develop, however evidence appraisal for treatment of radicular pain remains lacking. Thus, we performed a systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of epidural steroid injections containing PRP or related products to treat radicular pain. Embase, PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and Google Scholar databases were queried. Twelve studies were included in qualitative analysis, consisting of three randomized controlled trials and nine observational studies. The primary outcome was pain intensity, and secondary outcomes included functional improvement, anatomical changes on advanced imaging, and adverse events. All studies identified improved pain intensity and functional outcomes after epidural injection of PRP, PRGF and/or PL. Similar or longer lasting pain relief was noted in the PRP cohort compared to the cohort receiving epidural steroid injections with effects lasting up to 12-24 months. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) analysis revealed a very-low certainty of evidence due to risk of bias, indirectness, and imprecision.