In our ongoing discussion of PRP, a variety of different techniques need to be evaluated in terms of their effectiveness and the number of successful trials and patients that have been helped through the injections. From joints, to tendons, to aesthetics, the number of different possibilities seem limitless with cells that have a homologous structure to the DNA of the host as they are extracted from the patient’s own blood. One of the areas of PRP research that has seen some of the greatest response is the treatment of sports injuries. This is an area that should be taken into account not only by doctors working on young and active sports enthusiasts but also on older patients who are also seeing great results.
Procedures done around the country have received the thumbs-up from athletes, physicians, and day-to-day patients alike. This is in part tot eh fact that PRP does not act as a short-term relief for pain but, instead, actually helps the body to continue to heal even after the normal healing process would have stalled. “PRP therapy is indicated for injuries that have failed to heal despite traditional treatment options. It can be performed in any musculoskeletal structure, including muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments all over the body” (Colberg, 2017). Since the solution created for the process is done through the extraction of plasma from a person’s own blood, the growth factors are those that are already part of the body naturally and therefore also are assimilated rapidly and effectively. However, it was the use of PRP by well-known sporting enthusiasts that has garnered the most attention to the process.
When we think of athletes, those that come to mind most often are professional athlete’s whose entire lives are devoted to their sport. However, when a debilitating injury occurs it can halt if not end their career which is why there are so many athletes taking part after injury. For example, “Garrett Richards had platelet-rich plasma injection for healing the pitcher’s partially torn elbow ligament. He’s confident of his comeback” after just the round of treatments that he received (DRPRP USA, 2017). Pitchers often put tremendous strain on their elbows and shoulders without the added stress of physical contact and, even then, it is damaging. Similarly, and ACL or MCL sprain can put careers on home as well for those who are constantly moving. “Stephen Curry had Platelet-Rich Plasma for a grade 1 MCL sprain during Game 4 of the team’s first-round series against the Houston Rockets in 2016” (DRPRP USA, 2017). As one of the most well-known players in his field, this was important as he was able to return to the active roster quickly thereafter. A variety of other sports and players are represented in these procedures and one thing that has happened regularly is that they feel as though it helped their bodies begin to heal without the need for dangerous and sometimes hazardous surgeries and treatments. Even still, this is also for everyday people to treat their own problems.
Why is it that doctors are readily leaning into the field of regenerative medicine and trying new procedures instead of their tried and mostly true methods? “Doctors offer PRP therapy to ease pain and encourage long-lasting healing. In recent years, it has garnished more attention due to the rise in popularity of sporting activities, along with the publicity of high-profile athletes using the therapy” (Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, 2017). Simply put, the added attention as well as the continued presence of these individuals has spurred on the research into PRP, stem cell therapy, and regenerative and cooperative medicine. Instead of going to a hospital for an injury, people are looking at ways around surgery. This is where PRP becomes important for people going about their everyday lives. What would losing 2-3 months off a job do to a family who has children or college age students? In our clinic, we spoke with a man who was a professional welder and even though the pain was a daily reminder of his job, he was in the middle of a busy season. Now, he is looking into PRP as it is an in and out set of procedures that takes relatively less time on treatment. He knows that it will still take time to heal, but it beats taking multiple weeks off work. Similarly, a retired man who plays Wallyball 3-4 times a week in competitive leagues met with us and said that the three rounds kept him active and let him do what he loved. It can be worth it for so many people to look at the procedure.
Overall, PRP is a process that has made headway and continues to grow and evolve with the industry. It is not stem cell treatment which is often thought to be even more effective, but it is a relatively painless way to avoid life altering surgeries. Even old injuries and chronic pain can see results for the better which, to this author, sounds like something worth looking into for anyone.
Colberg, R. (2017). What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy?. Online.
DRPRP USA. (2017). 21 Pro Athletes Saved By Platelet-Rich Plasma In 2016. Online.
Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. (2017). What is PRP, and why are pro athletes using it?. KSL.com.