In the world of sports medicine time is of the essence for recovery and return to play. Due to continuous advances in research and medicine there are more options to assist an athlete’s return to play safely and effectively.
Acute, as well as chronic injuries, can sideline an athlete for prolonged periods of time. Injuries such as tendonitis can become chronic, causing formation of scar tissue or microscopic tears in the chronic stages. The body may have difficulty healing these injuries because of poor blood supply to these areas. Acute injuries such as tendon strains or muscle injuries can have a devastating impact on the ability to return – to – play. This has lead to ongoing research to help the body heal and recovery more rapidly. Using a patients own body to aid in the healing process is the latest trend in medicine
Platelet–Rich Plasma (PRP) is a treatment that uses the bodies own healing properties to help recover from many injuries acute or chronic. PRP uses your own platelets present in your blood, to promote healing to your injured body part. Platelets are cell fragments that circulate in our blood. They release many growth factors that play an important role in repairing and healing connective tissue. Studies have shown that PRP injections significantly increase function in the treatment of lateral epicondylitis as studied by Peersboom, Slumer, Brujin and Gosen.
PRP injection is usually performed in a doctor’s office. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient, the same way blood is drawn for common blood testing. It is collected into a test tube and placed in a centrifuge. It is then spun to separate the platelets from the other blood products. The platelets are then reintroduced by injection into the patient at the site of the injury using Ultrasound guidance is used for precise placement. The injured body part is usually immobilized for protection and comfort following the injection. The patient may experience discomfort for the first few days after the procedure. Ice, rest and Tylenol are suggested if discomfort does occur. Anti inflammatory medications such as Motrin, Aleve and Ibuprofen are not recommended due to the fact that they affect platelet function. Your doctor will monitor your progress and advise when to resume activities. Occasionally, repeat injections are needed to produce effective results.
Common problems treated with PRP injection are lateral epicondylitis, patellar tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis, muscle and tendon injuries/ruptures. Newer applications include joint injection to treat injuries to joint surfaces, as well as osteoarthritis.
Platelet-Rich-Plasma is one of several emerging office based treatments which augment the healing process and allow a rapid and safe return to sports.