Intended for healthcare professionals


Autologous blood products in musculoskeletal medicine

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 10 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2979
  1. Nicola Maffulli, professor of musculoskeletal disorders, consultant orthopaedic surgeon
  1. 1Department of Musculoskeletal Disorders, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno, 84081 Baronissi, Salerno, Italy
  1. n.maffulli{at}

Although they are trendy money spinners, best evidence shows little effectiveness

Participation in almost all sports and physical activities benefits individuals and society as a whole because it promotes health and helps prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes; it may also lead to improved mental health. Nevertheless, athletes are highly vulnerable to musculoskeletal injuries, sometimes with devastating effects. Sports injuries cost society billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs. Regenerative medicine technologies, such as autologous blood products for the treatment of tendinopathies, hold the promise of improved outcomes for musculoskeletal conditions that currently have limited or no treatment options. In a linked trial (doi:10.1136/bmj.f2310), Bell and colleagues compare the effectiveness of peritendinous injections of autologous blood with standard eccentric exercise in athletes with Achilles tendinopathy.1

Novel treatments that are reported to accelerate recovery from musculoskeletal injuries, without adversely affecting recurrence rate, are increasingly advocated in the lay media and often heavily promoted to athletes and healthcare professionals.2 3 Injections of autologous blood products, including whole blood, platelet rich plasma, and autologous conditioned serum, are increasingly …

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