While research efforts continue to assess the benefits of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the treatment of some orthopedic injuries and conditions, the clinical results for many, including some high-profile athletes such as Tiger Woods and Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, are proving favorable.
PRP therapy is thought to accelerate healing by using the patient’s own “platelet rich plasma” and growth factors. A small amount of a patient’s blood is taken and rotated in a centrifuge to separate red blood cells from platelets. The concentrated platelets are then re-injected into the affected area – releasing growth factors that are believed to help the tissue recover more quickly. The procedure is performed on elbows, shoulders, knees, hips and feet.
Initially PRP therapy was used to help athletes recover more quickly from an injury, accelerating recovery of arthroscopic cartilage and ligament repair. Today, PRP injection therapy is used for some chronic tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow cases, as well as other cases of tendinitis. The growth factors and stem cells that concentrated levels of the patient’s platelets activate not only promote more rapid healing but are also found to reduce pain and osteoarthritic symptoms and inflammation.
“Overuse conditions” affecting the muscles and tendons of the forearm where they attach at the outside of the elbow, tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis), or inside of the elbow and forearm as in golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), are generally first addressed with conservative treatment – rest/activity modification, bracing, non steroidal anti inflammatory medication (NSAIDs). Traditionally, patients continuing to suffer from chronic tennis elbow despite conservative treatment are recommended for surgery to address the affected tendons. While arthroscopy has made surgical intervention less invasive, PRP therapy offers a non surgical option for chronic tennis elbow sufferers – providing relief for the pain and tenderness associated with the condition.
PRP therapy is a simple in office procedure and does not require a separate visit. Patients opting for the therapy simply request it during their examination. Results are usually evident within just a few days.