Tendonitis, torn ligaments, rotator cuff tears and Achilles tendon injuries are just a few aliments that can plague athletes today. Extensive recovery time and pain keep one from coming right back to play but recently Platelet Rich Plasma, aka PRP therapy, has shown promising results. Athletes such as Hines Ward, Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant have used this treatment in the past years.
How does PRP work? The patient’s own blood is taken and then spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets and plasma from the red blood cells. It is this platelet rich plasma that is injected into the site of injury, often times guided with an ultrasound machine to achieve optimal placement. Many sports related injuries, especially ones like an Achilles tendon which have a poor blood supply to begin with, are difficult to heal. The enriched plasma injected into the injury site provides the injury with growth and healing factors to assist in the healing process.
Not only has PRP been used to increase the strength of the tendon or ligament that is healing but it has been shown to reduce pain associated with the injury as well. A study took two groups of people both with tennis elbow (moderate to severe pain down the elbow) giving one group PRP therapy and a placebo to the other group. They found significant differences in the pain after both 12 and 24 weeks with the PRP group reporting less pain than the group that did not receive the injections.
Interestingly the usage of PRP therapy has not been limited to humans. Currently veterinarians are using it to treat soft tissue injuries in horses, and in other companion animals such as dogs and cats. The minimally invasive aspect of this procedure and the research to support its effectiveness make PRP an exciting new treatment.
Posted by Morgan Matuszko (2)