Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Athletes such as Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’s Hines Ward and recently Peyton Manning undergone platelet-rich plasma therapy of their tendinopathy and joint pain and this treatment is now available at the Rheumatology center of New Jersey done by Dr Ahmed Abdel-Megid.
Torn tendons, muscles and ligaments plague athletes in many types of sports. Before playing in his many of his recent professional golf majors, Tiger Woods received injections of PRP in his left knee, where he had previous surgery. PRP injections in his elbow may have been the reason that Los Angeles Dodgers’s pitcher Takashi Saito was able to return to the mound for the 2008 for the playoffs.
In attempts to help heal the torn tendons, muscle, ligaments, and arthritic joints, some doctors have turned to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. For the treatment, doctors about 30 milliliters of whole blood, and spin it in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the other components which has stem cells. Then they inject the concentrated mixture under ultrasound guidance at the site of injury, pain or arthritis. In theory, the growth factors that the platelets secrete promote tissue recovery and improve pain.
Whereas doctors have used PRP therapy since the mid-1990s to aid bone healing after spinal injury and soft tissue recovery following plastic surgery, it has only been in the past years that the treatment has caught on for treatment tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis.
How do platelets promote healing? No one knows for sure at this time. Large multicenter blinded studies are in progress but theoretically, tendon injuries cause microscopic tearing of the tendon and formation of scar tissue. The theory is that, since tendons and joints have poor blood supply, the body cannot on its own get enough of these healing and growth factors to the area. So placing this concentrated platelet rich plasma in the area simply enhances the nutrients and growth factors to allow the body to heal itself. A good example is that that when you cut your finger, the first step of healing is the local coagulation effect of platelets followed by their ability of initiate the regeneration process by secreting growth factors and recruiting the bodies innate healing systems.
Are any clinical trials currently going on? Many animal studies have been very positive for PRP in terms of tendon-healing effects. Shortly, we should really start seeing results from many human clinical trials that have been started over the last few years, ranging in everything from rotator cuff problems [in the shoulder] to tennis elbow to Achilles and patellar tendonitis. Early results show that 60-80% of patients do better after PRP.