The healing of musculoskeletal injuries is a time consuming process which often delays the return of the athlete (professional or amateur) to the desired level of activity. Moreover, sometimes the desire of the athlete or the pressure he’s under to return to full activity renders recovery from an injury incomplete.
In recent years there is much debate about the method known as PRP initials of Platelet-Rich Plasma. This method began to get publicity in 2009 when two key players of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu, underwent this treatment just before winning the Super Bowl. This was followed by several renowned professionals of the NFL, of Baseball, of golf, of track and field and the NBA, like Tiger Woods, Cobe Bryant and o Tyson Gay.
Today, this method is used internationally in major sports injuries rehabilitation centers and in organized sports clubs for the treatment of diseases of articular cartilage (cartilaginous lesions, incipient arthritis), of ligaments (sprains), of tendons (chronic tendinitis, degeneration or partial ruptured tendons), of muscles (fractures) and in skin diseases (leg ulcers, necrosis).
This is an innovative process in which a small amount of blood is taken from a vein of the patient. The obtained blood is subjected to a special treatment to isolate the platelets from other plasma components (red cells, white cells, etc.). The next step is platelet activation and injection locally to the damaged region. Platelets are rich in growth factors (PDGF, TGF-b, VEGF, EGF, FGF, IGF-1), the properties of which we use for the treatment of acute and chronic diseases.
This ensures rapid restoration of injuries of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage through the success of the healing capacity of the body itself.
The procedure accelerates the revascularization of the region of the trauma and ultimately regenerates and repairs the injured tissue.
Plasma therefore has three actions:
a) attracts cells responsible for healing,
b) prospers their proliferation and
c) enhances the differentiation into cells of the diseased tissue.
This healing process results in avoidance of the formation of scar tissue, which has much lower strength and flexibility than normal. New healthy tissue is formed, the collagen fibers of which are organized in proper order.
The benefits of treatment are:
✓ the relief of the athlete’s symptoms
✓ the reduction of the need for more aggressive therapeutic interventions (surgery, long-term medication) and
✓ the remarkably quick return to coaching and racing action.
The whole process of receiving, processing and injecting autologous growth factors takes about 30 minutes and does not require hospitalization.
The process is absolutely safe and does not have the risk of allergic reaction, as the blood components come from the patient himself. In the days following the infusion there may be some local irritation as a result of the healing response of the body, while the treatment outcomes are maximized in a few weeks.
For optimal results usually one to three injections are required, depending on the patient’s age, the type, the location and severity of damage. For a week before and during the time of the treatment it’s best to avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs, because they affect the normal healing process, hence the effectiveness of the method.