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Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

Many active individuals, ranging from weekend warrior types who enjoy exercise and recreational sports in their spare time to professional athletes to those with osteoarthritis, suffer pain and injuries that keep them from performing at their best and sometimes from performing at all.

Surgery to treat joint, tendon and ligament injuries like tendonitis and MCL or ACL tears can keep athletes out of the game for weeks at a time due to long recovery times and possible complications such as infection from the procedure.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy procedures are an alternative option to surgery that are minimally invasive, affordable, quick and can greatly reduce pain and recovery time for athletes.

Typically, when a person is injured, the body sends blood to the site to begin the healing process. Blood platelets are full of proteins and other elements that help mend injuries. However, in some more ligamentous locations like the knee, shoulder and elbow, blood doesn’t usually travel to that area as much when injury occurs.

Platelet-rich plasma procedures mimic the body’s response to injuries by creating a catalyst for a person’s natural healing response and helps rebuild tendons and cartilage. It works by taking blood from the injured athlete, filtering it in a centrifuge that spins at high speeds to separate red blood cells from platelets and injecting that blood into the injured area.

This method of healing is perceived to be most effective for mild injuries to the everyday active individual but has also decreased rehabilitation and recovery time for professional athletes like Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu, both Pittsburgh Steelers football players, who each had platelet-rich plasma procedure therapy that reduced their combined injury times by weeks.

Using the athlete’s own blood is speedy and safe. In total, platelet-rich plasma procedures take about an hour and virtually eliminate the possibility for infection or allergic reaction. They are cheaper than traditional surgical treatment and have the potential to do away with several types of surgery that can be costly and invasive.

Whether it’s a sports related injury or pain due to arthritis, platelet-rich procedures are promising and should be considered by patients for non-surgical treatment.

About Shelden Martin

I've had the privilege of working with many professional, collegiate and high school athletic teams. I am currently the head team physician for the 2012 AFL World Champion Arizona Rattlers. I have also presented research both nationally and internationally and published extensively in peer-reviewed literature.