By Dr. Moises Irizarry-Roman
One of the most feared events during performance training is the development of a sports injury. They’re bound to happen, some more serious than others. Inevitably, this leads us to look for ways to heal as fast as possible. Some people rely on medications as a ‘quick fix’, and on many occasions they do help. Medicine, however, has been investigating the use of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma). Its use amongst elite athletes such as Tiger Woods and Hines Ward has brought the procedure popularity. Still, a lot of research is being conducted to validate its healing properties.
Platelets are ‘the natural band-aids’ of our body. When an injury occurs, these platelets play a significant role in blood-clot formation and the repair and regeneration of connective tissue. PRP, in a nutshell, is a procedure that imitates our body’s response to an injury in a more powerful and accelerated way though the use of high concentrations of our body’s platelets.
During this process a patient’s blood is drawn, placed in a special centrifuge and separated into base components. The plasma (now with a higher than normal concentration of platelets) is injected into the injured tissue and the response commences. This process has been used to treat chronic tendinosis/tendonitis, rotator cuff issues, tennis elbows, osteoarthritis, meniscus injuries, partial tears of ACLs, muscle strains and joint sprains, amongst other musculoskeletal issues (aside from its uses in cosmetic medicine).
Results have been variable, and medicine is investigating precisely what factors help improve the outcome of this therapy. It is believed that general health is an important determinant factor, and it makes sense, as a healthy population tends to heal better and faster. Therefore, if you are taking good care of yourself, exercising and dieting the best way possible, what better than your own body to heal its wounds?
PRP may or may not be an option for you. Talk to your Sports Medicine Doctor about this treatment if you’re injured and as I say: ‘Be a good sport, stay in the game!’