Revolutionary Treatment Shows Promise for Sports Injuries
A pioneering therapy previously used in surgical patients is now showing exciting results with sports injuries, including ligament sprains, tendon tears and chronic inflammation. This new non-surgical treatment can relieve pain, promote permanent healing and avert the need for surgery. It is called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and it is revolutionizing the way we treat acute and chronic pain.
First used in cardiac surgery in 1987, physicians discovered that platelets had strong healing properties. They began experimenting with skin and bone grafts, further exploring the soft tissue and bone regeneration effects. Today, pain specialists are finding increasingly more applications where PRP achieves outstanding results, including osteoarthritis of the knee, shoulder, hip and spine, as well as rotator cuff tears, chronic plantar fasciitis, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, tennis elbow, ankle sprains, tendonitis and ligament sprains.
Activating the body’s healing process
The human body has a natural ability to heal itself. The body’s first response to soft tissue injury is to deliver platelet cells. Packed with growth and healing factors, platelets initiate the repair process and attract the critical assistance of stem cells. Using this natural mechanism, PRP intensifies the body’s efforts by delivering a higher concentration of platelets.
To create PRP, a small sample of the patient’s blood is drawn (similar to a lab test sample), transferred to a unique multi-chamber container and then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood at high speeds, separating the platelets from the other components. The concentrated platelet rich plasma is then injected into and around the point of injury, jumpstarting and significantly strengthening the body’s natural healing ability.
Research studies and clinical practice have shown PRP to be very effective. Both ultrasound and MRI images have shown definitive tissue repair after treatment, confirming the healing process. The need for surgery can also be reduced by treating injured tissues before the damage progresses and the condition is irreversible.
Providing lasting relief
Patients treated with PRP have shown significant improvement in their pain and ability to function. An exceptionally safe procedure, it is covered by most insurances, including Medicare. Because your own blood is used, there is no risk of a transmissible infection. Performed in a sterile, office-based environment, PRP does not require general anesthesia or hospitalization. Because PRP helps to resolve pain through healing, it provides lasting results. Initial improvement may be seen within a few weeks, gradually increasing as the healing progresses.
Because of the specialized training required, the number of physicians performing this new therapy is somewhat limited – physicians at the StemCell ARTS are currently the only providers in the Mid-Atlantic region.