How Can PRP Help Your Orthopedic Recovery?
Platelet-rich plasma, commonly referred to as PRP, is a nonoperative solution for injuries and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.
Although blood is mainly a liquid called plasma, it also contains small solid components such as red cells, white cells, and platelets. Platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are of prime importance in the healing of injuries.
“PRP therapy is a concentration of your body’s own blood platelets, spun in a centrifuge that separates blood by weight,” says sports and regenerative medicine specialist Daniel Savarino, DO, RMSK.
“The platelets are injected into damaged areas of the body to promote tissue repair and accelerate healing,” continues Dr. Savarino. “Platelets are rich in growth and healing factors which means, on average, an injured individual can get back to a pain-free life in six to eight weeks. Some patients require two or three injections, based on the severity of the injury, but many respond to a single treatment.”
Awareness of PRP has risen as it has been utilized successfully by professional athletes, including Tiger Woods, who received four treatments following knee surgery, tennis star Rafael Nadal, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Takashi Saito and Bartolo Colon, both Major League baseball players.
“PRP can be a great treatment for people who have tried conventional treatments with no success,” concludes Dr. Savarino.
A Long-Lasting, Permanent Solution
Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Marshall Allegra, MD says, “Injuries treated with PRP therapy include rotator cuff, quadriceps, hamstring, Achilles tendon injuries, tennis elbow, as well as conditions such as osteoarthritis.”
“PRP therapy can also be an alternative to surgery as well as part of an enhanced healing program following surgery,” continues Dr. Allegra. “PRP presents patients with a long lasting, permanent solution that will not wear off over time as with a traditional pain injections such as cortisone. For this reason, the use of PRP could help a patient avoid joint replacement surgery, and potentially back surgery. With any treatment option, the effectiveness of the treatment depends upon the severity of the injury.”
The risks associated with PRP are minimal. It uses the body’s own blood and there may be increased pain at the injection site, but the incidence of other problems, such as infection, tissue damage and nerve injuries, appears to be no different from that associated with cortisone injections.
Physical Therapy Enhances PRP Treatment
Following regenerative procedures such as PRP, physical therapy is introduced to help restore function and improve strength and mobility of the joint or muscle,” says physical therapist David Bertone, PT, DPT, OCS.
“Treatment utilizing the AlterG® Anti-Gravity treadmill is the perfect complement to PRP therapy,” says Dr. Bertone.
“By reducing up to 80 percent of body weight, the AlterG treadmill continues each patient’s enhanced treatment plan by reducing stress and strain on the lower body from impact walking or running, while maximizing healing and conditioning.”
“Additional physical therapy modalities can be used to increase circulation and healing in the injured area,” continues Dr. Bertone. “These may include electrical stimulation, Laser class IV treatment, heat and cold therapy and ultrasound, as well as manual therapy such as massage and joint mobilization.”
Revolutionary treatments like PRP therapy, supported by the latest treatment technologies in physical therapy, are helping patients experience less pain, accelerate healing, and get back in the game of life more quickly.