Platelet -rich plasma (PRP) is currently used as an alternative treatment method for several common orthopaedic-related sports medicine conditions. According to a new study in the October issue of the
Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), early outcomes of PRP appear promising; however, larger clinical studies are still needed to determine the benefits of its use.
"Some believe that PRP may catalyze the body's repair mechanisms at areas of injury, improve healing and shorten recovery time," said study co-author Michael Hall, MD, a senior orthopaedic surgery resident at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York. "However, there currently is minimal evidence of this clinically and more research must be performed."
A Simple Process and Procedure
PRP Used Primarily for Chronic Conditions
PRP treatments have been used for the past two decades to improve wound healing and bone grafting procedures by plastic and maxillofacial (mouth, jaw and neck) surgeons. It is only in recent years that orthopaedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists have utilized this technology.
PRP use in sports medicine primarily has been for the treatment of chronic tendon conditions, but also for acute muscle injuries and for the augmentation of tendon repair in the operating room.
The most common applications include:
Who Should Consider PRP Treatment?
According to Dr. Hall, PRP use has increased in recent years, and it has become a popular topic of discussion because the process is "simple, quick and relatively safe for patients."
"Use of PRP has increased, in large part due to new devices that enable fast preparation in the outpatient setting. A patient gives a blood sample and 30 minutes later can receive their injection," he explained. "There is always a risk of infection with any injection, and some have reported increased pain or inflammation at the injection site, but otherwise the risks with PRP appear minimal."
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Each patient and injury is unique; therefore it is important to discuss any treatment with an orthopaedic surgeon. If PRP treatment is recommended, Dr. Hall suggests asking your doctor the following to help determine if it is right for you:
Also, before embarking on PRP, Dr. Hall suggests trying conventional treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, massage, activity modification, bracing and even cortisone injections.
"The bottom line is that there are some studies indicating that PRP may be beneficial in the healing process. Does it really have a positive effect clinically? We don't know," said Dr. Hall. "The good news is that there are a tremendous amount of studies underway. Hopefully, in the next few years, we will be able to help determine the true benefit of PRP."
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