Treatment with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for common sports injuries
You've probably heard of therapies like PRP treatment, or sometimes PRP therapy, that professional athletes like Tiger Woods and Hines Ward use to speed up their recovery times. These athletes received PRP treatment after suffering injuries that would have required them to sit out for months. Instead, they experienced faster recovery times after PRP treatments.
Regenerative medicine uses our natural ability to heal ourselves by using healthy regenerative cells found throughout the body.
This orthobiological treatment is minimally invasive, safe and fast, and highly effective for many of the most common sports injuries.
What are blood platelets?
Platelets are small plate-like blood cells that contain natural sources of growth factors, proteins and cytokines that stimulate the healing of bone and soft tissue. Platelets perform several valuable functions:
Growth factors: Many growth factors offer many options to support cell repair. Some of these are: Reducing inflammation, improving cell growth and sending signals to the body's immune system.
Cytokines: Cytokines are responsible for almost all repair processes that occur naturally in the body. Cytokines are crucial for cellular communication and cumulatively accelerate the healing of tissues and wounds. Depending on the specific cytokines, numerous metabolic pathways are activated that support cell repair.
Attracts stem cells: By attaching to the injured soft tissue, platelets trigger a cascade for blood clotting and form a fibrin clot to stop bleeding. In addition, platelets attract your body's stem cells, another natural healing element. This essential platform facilitates the formation of fibrin layers, the development of new tissue and the beginning of the healing process.
Platelet-rich plasma is the body's own blood plasma with concentrated platelets. Typical concentrations of platelets in PRP are 5-10 times higher than in blood. Therefore, PRP is a consolidator of the above resources, which together stimulate repair and regeneration.
With some sports injuries, the body can heal itself over a period of weeks or months. With more severe injuries, the body simply does not have enough self-healing power. In both cases, PRP speeds up and accelerates the natural healing process.
1. Treatment of tennis elbow with PRP
PRP injections are particularly effective in treating lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow.
In this condition, the tendons of the forearm become inflamed, usually from overuse and repetitive strain. While playing tennis can cause lateral epicondylitis (especially if you have biomechanical deficiencies), it is common in climbers, painters, carpenters, quivers, mechanics and anyone who makes repetitive arm movements.
Because these tendons receive little blood, they heal very slowly. PRP injections relieve tennis elbow pain and begin to heal. Research shows the effectiveness of PRP injections in restoring function in patients with tennis elbow.
2. PRP injections for rotator cuff injuries
The rotator cuff, muscles and other soft tissues that make the shoulder work are a common site for sports injuries. Any repetitive movement of the upper arm (such as throwing a baseball or shooting baskets) can cause problems. However, the rotating sleeve is also a common site of injury due to falls and other accidents.
Although complete rotating sleeve tears usually require surgery, both partial tears and inflammation of the bursa respond particularly well to PRP injections.
In addition, rotational cuff tendinopathy or tendinitis can also benefit greatly from platelet-rich plasma treatments.
3. PRP therapy for plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the most common injury in runners and other patients who work or exercise on their feet. This chronic condition causes severe health pain that many patients resist conservative forms of treatment. If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can lead to bone spurs that require surgery.
Many patients receive cortisone injections for this and other painful sports injuries. Although cortisone shots may relieve the pain temporarily (up to a year), they do not heal the wound. In fact, some studies suggest that multiple injections of cortisone over time can lead to atrophy of the heel fat plate, resulting in increased heel pain.
PRP injections also relieve pain, but more importantly, they begin the healing process so that patients retain most of their restored function.
Many other types of sports injuries can also benefit from platelet-rich plasma injections, including Aillesila tendonitis, ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and thigh injuries.
How long does it take for PRP injections to work?
PRP injections do not alleviate the symptoms or fix the problem in the same way as medication or surgery. Instead, they start a natural regeneration process that will take weeks or even months, depending on the type of damage.
For PRP injections in joints, bones or muscles, the effect of a PRP injection should be felt in about three months and completed in six to nine months. If the pain or movement has not improved enough at this point, a new injection may be needed. Once the healing process is complete, the effect remains permanent.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) as therapy for cartilage, tendon and muscle damage – German working group position statement
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