Have you noticed that athletes are staying in the game well into their 40’s nowadays? As depressing as it sounds, a top-level athlete in their 30’s used to be a rare occurrence. A combination of excellent training, strength and conditioning, diet and most importantly, injury prevention, treatment and recovery, are keeping people like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger in peak physical condition, at age 40 and beyond.
PRP is the new key to quick and full recovery. We are entering an age when doctors use biologic treatments such as Platelet-Rich Plasma and stem cells to try to reverse the damage these sports take on the bodies of the athletes.
From Tiger Woods to A-Rod, Peyton Manning and Christiano Ronaldo, most older elite athletes have supercharged their body’s own natural healing with regenerative therapies.
Which begs the question, if PRP is keeping professional athletes in the game, what can it do for the mere mortal who has joint pain? Let’s talk about it.
What is platelet-rich plasma and what are PRP injections?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. In this way, the injections use each individual patient’s own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems.
PRP injections are prepared by taking anywhere from one to a few tubes of your own blood and running it through a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. These activated platelets are then injected directly into your injured or diseased body tissue. This releases growth factors that stimulate and increase the number of reparative cells your body produces.
Ultrasound imaging is sometimes used to guide the injection. The photographs below illustrate a Platelet Rich Plasma injection into a patient’s torn tendon. The ultrasound guidance is shown at left and the injection is shown at right.
Platelet-rich plasma has been found to significantly enhance the healing process, and using a PRP injection for shoulder pain caused by rotator cuff tears, for Achilles tendon ruptures and for other soft-tissue injuries is becoming more common. PRP has also been demonstrated to improve function and reduce pain in people who have tendonitis or chronic tendinosis conditions such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
Some of the key advantages of PRP injections are that they can reduce the need for anti-inflammatories or stronger medications like opioids. In addition, the side effects of PRP injections are very limited because, since the injections are created from your own blood, your body will not reject or react negatively to them.
Who can benefit from PRP and stem cell therapy?
The key to successful PRP therapy is the careful screening patients go through before being cleared for treatment by a good, honest doctor.
Many unscrupulous clinics and practitioners looking to make a quick buck talk about PRP and stem cell therapy as though it is a miracle cure-all for all problems.
After luring you in with flashy talk radio ads, they will take several thousand of your hard-earned dollars, then have a barely-trained nurse inject questionable substances of unknown provenance into your already damaged joints. The benefits rarely live up to the hype and often cause more problems.
At Dayton Orthopedic Surgery, only highly trained physicians, doctors and physicians assistants perform PRP and stem cell injections. Our materials are sourced from the finest FDA approved facilities, and handled with the utmost care. Injections are performed under ultrasound guidance, to ensure that healing factors are placed to maximum benefit.
PRP therapy is NOT FOR EVERYONE. It is not a miracle cure for every injury and every painful joint.
It can, however, greatly reduce pain, increase range of motion and reduce down-time in several types of injury, such as muscle and tendon injuries. PRP injections accelerate your body’s own healing, which can work wonders on torn or ruptured soft tissue injuries – especially tendon injuries that have a poor blood supply, such as the MCL and ACL.
PRP cannot regrow cartilage, fix a torn meniscus, or reverse arthritis. If you suffer from these afflictions and a practitioner tells you that PRP will help, they are not ‘on the up-and-up’, as the old saying goes. If you have ‘bone-on-bone’ arthritis, PRP will not help you.
If you would like to be considered as a candidate for PRP, call Dayton Orthopedic Surgery at (937) 436-5763. Our highly-trained practitioners have many years’ experience with this procedure, and will only clear you for it if you are an ideal candidate. We are in the business of making people better, not just taking your money.