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Why are so many professional athletes getting Platelet Rich Plasma injections?

Platelet rich plasma injections (PRP) is regarded as a revolutionary modality of care in the regenerative medicine. Due to hazardous long term complications of surgical interventions, less invasive procedures like PRP are getting extremely popular as safer alternative to surgeries in the optimal management of soft tissue injuries.

PRP or platelet-rich plasma therapy involves sampling of a small amount of patient’s own blood to centrifuge and concentrate the platelets. Once ready, these concentrated platelets are re-injected into the damaged tissue to enhance the natural pace of healing and regeneration. It is not only safe, but is also effective and hazard-free in the long term.

What is the mode of action of PRP injections?

Platelet rich plasma therapy is the re-administration of your own platelets to activate the body’s natural healing cascade for repair and regeneration at the site of the Morton’s neuroma. High concentration of platelets also stimulate the release of growth factors that further aid in tissue regeneration.

PRP technique has been in use for over 2 decades, especially in the surgical field where orthopedic surgeons have used PRP to enhance the pace of healing. Various research studies have suggested that utilization of PRP can offer valuable benefits in soft tissue injuries as well as degenerative bone conditions such as spinal disc degeneration or arthritis.

Why is Platelet Rich Plasma therapy is a viable therapeutic option?

PRP therapy has become extremely popular in the past few years, especially for the management of soft tissue injuries to restore the normal quality of life and performance in professional athletes. For example, 27-year old basketball player, Brandon Roy (the Portland guard) was able to announce his comeback in 2012, just one year after declaring his retirement due to chronic knee discomfort. Before opting for retirement, Roy underwent 6 knee surgeries but to no avail. Then he underwent PRP therapy and it worked wonders.

Today, the data and statistical evidence on the effectiveness of PRP therapy is still in the early stages, yet a lot of professional athletes and sports personnel consider it a superior over surgical alternatives. Based on early clinical medical research done so far, the following injuries and soft tissue conditions respond well to PRP therapy:

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Injuries to ligaments and muscles
  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Acute and chronic tendon problems
  • Joint fractures
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Neck pain
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Morton’s neuroma

Is it experimental? Why should you consider Platelet Rich Plasma injections for soft tissue injuries?

Most people believe that Platelet Rich Plasma therapy is still in the experimental stages especially for the management of soft tissue injuries. Here are a few reasons why many professional athletes prefer PRP over surgical interventions or other invasive procedures:

  1. Platelet-rich plasma injections are extremely safe and do not affect the endurance, stamina or athletic vigor of patients;
  2. The risks of any side-effects or long-term complications are very rare. For example, most patients report only mild side effects like localized pain lasting only a few days, some swelling and injection site stiffness. On the contrary, most surgical interventions are associated with residual disability, chronic stiffness, extensive scarring and tissue fibrosis that may complicate the rehabilitation process.
  3. We preform PRP injections with local anesthesia under ultrasound guidance which significantly improves the precision of procedure and quality of results; and,
  4. No long-term rest or rehabilitation is necessary either, unlike surgeries that require long period of rehabilitation and post-surgical recovery.

What to expect from PRP therapy?

Depending upon the initial extent of injury, the overall process of healing may take a few weeks, and rarely, up to a few months. While most patients do not require more than 1 -2 injections, you should know that complete regeneration of damaged collagen may require multiple sessions. In the early post-therapy period (2-3 weeks after the PRP injection), most patients report remarkable improvement in the severity of symptoms such as pain and discomfort.

If you are looking to restore the anatomical and physiological health of your joints and soft tissue elements, speak to your doctor to see if you are a candidate for Platelet Rich Plasma therapy.

For more information on Platelet Rich Plasma injections for Morton’s neuroma, click here.

Below is a list of professional athletes who have used Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy:

Football Players Who Used PRP Therapy
Baseball Players Who Used PRP Therapy
Basketball Players Who Used PRP Therapy
  • Brandon Roy
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Josh Howard
  • Mickael Pietrus
  • Wesley Matthews
  • Rashard Lewis
  • Derrick Rose
  • Greg Oden
  • Trevor Booker
  • Steve Blake
  • Deron Williams
  • Enes Kanter
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Andre Iguodala
Golfers Who Used PRP Therapy
Other Athletes Who Used PRP Therapy
  • Tyson Gay (sprinter)
  • Donovan Bailey (sprinter)
  • Dara Torres (swimmer)
  • Jean Pascal (boxer)
  • Pa Modou Kah (soccer)
  • Rafael Nadal (tennis)
  • Maria Sharapova (tennis)
  • Nicky Hayden (Indy Racer)
  • Cat Zingano (Female MMA)

References:

  1. Taylor, D. W., Petrera, M., Hendry, M., & Theodoropoulos, J. S. (2011). A systematic review of the use of platelet-rich plasma in sports medicine as a new treatment for tendon and ligament injuries. Clinical journal of sport medicine, 21(4), 344-352.
  2. Middleton, K. K., Barro, V., Muller, B., Terada, S., & Fu, F. H. (2012). Evaluation of the effects of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy involved in the healing of sports-related soft tissue injuries. The Iowa orthopaedic journal, 32, 150.
  3. Filardo, G., Kon, E., Ruiz, M. T. P., Vaccaro, F., Guitaldi, R., Di Martino, A., … & Marcacci, M. (2012). Platelet-rich plasma intra-articular injections for cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis: single-versus double-spinning approach. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 20(10), 2082-2091.
  4. Wilson, J. J., Lee, K. S., Miller, A. T., & Wang, S. (2013). Platelet-Rich Plasma for the Treatment of Chronic Plantar Fasciopathy in Adults A Case Series. Foot & ankle specialist, 1938640013509671.
  5. Athletes using PRP. http://www.prptreatments.org/sports-medicine/athletes-using-prp/ Accessed June 20,2015 10am

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