PRP in Sports Medicine

In the field of Sports Medicine, the public and media often gravitate toward treatment options of high profile athletes.

PRPPlatelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is one such treatment receiving alot of attention.  It is being used for the treatment of  a variety of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. In addition,  it is being used to enhance healing of damaged tissues. With reports of athletes like Tiger Woods and Hines Ward turning to this treatment,  PRP is becoming a common topic both inside and outside of Orthopedic offices.

How does it work?

The platelets contain growth factors that have the potential to help immature cells differentiate into cells that can help heal specific damaged tissue. The platelets are retrieved from the patients own blood. After the blood is drawn, it is placed in a centrifuge and rapidly spun to get a high concentration of platelets in the plasma. This platelet rich plasma is then injected into the damaged tissue or joint. As the platelets coagulate in the tissue they release the growth factors to stimulate the healing response. Since this is the patients own tissue there is no significant chance of side affects or reaction.

Currently, there aren’t many studies to corroborate the effectiveness of this treatment. However, their have been many uses for PRP that have recently emerged.  The most promising area has been in the treatment of tendonitis. It is used for several conditions including epicondylitis in the elbow, patellar tendonitis  in the knee, and plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis of the foot. PRP is used when all other treatment options have failed and one is trying to avoid surgery. In an effort to speed healing response, physicians may also consider PRP for acute injuries to muscle, ligaments and bone. Surgically, it may be  used in  total knee replacements to decrease blood loss and promote quicker healing. Lastly, PRP can be used in conjunction with surgeries  such as rotator cuff repair; once again to increase the rate of healing.

Over the next few years we will have more experience with PRP along with additional studies to help determine it’s effectiveness. This is just the start to the emerging field of biologic medicine. The possibilities are potentially limitless.

Eric W. Janssen, MD

If you would like to watch a video of Dr. Janssen performing PRP please follow the link to his Youtube Page.



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