Much has been reported about the potential of platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, as a viable treatment for injuries. In fact, you may have seen on the news that several famous athletes, including Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods, have received PRP therapy. Some have even suggested that the procedure quickened their return to competition. Scientists are still conducting research on PRP, but studies continue to show its potential to supersede conventional treatments.
Podiatrists like Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS of Austin, Texas, typically treat chronic Achilles pain, for example, with physical therapy, medications, or surgery. Currently PRP treatment is used as a kind of third line defense, meaning it is characteristically only used when other treatments have failed. However, it appears that PRP will soon become a plausible alternative that boasts an impressive success rate with minimal risk. Given its potential, PRP will likely be used more prevalently in the near future.
Although it has received a lot of publicity, questions about platelet-rich plasma still remain: what exactly is it, and how does it work?
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Blood is mainly a liquid called plasma which contains high levels of platelets. These are best known for their role in clotting blood, but also for the fact that they contain a high concentration of proteins called growth factors. These proteins are extremely important in the healing process. PRP has 5 to 10 times the amount of platelets, and therefore growth factors, as is typically found in blood. Thus, it is easy to understand why PRP treatments hold such potential in speeding up the healing and recovery of injuries.
How Does It Work?
Platelet-rich plasma is carefully injected directly into the injured area. When this occurs, the platelets in the plasma react to collagen that is in your body and hundreds of growth factors are released. This accelerates the healing process of wounds, tendons, ligaments, and even bone. Tissue is not only repaired, but is also regenerated. The procedure is safe, has little risk, and does not affect biomechanical function in any way.
What Conditions Can Benefit from Treatment?
PRP is most effective in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis and other chronic tendon injuries. It has also shown successful results with acute ligament and muscle injuries, like those commonly suffered by athletes. Other sports injuries, like sprains and fractures, can also benefit. Most recently PRP has been used to facilitate healing after a surgery. Studies are also being done on its effectiveness with arthritic joints. While research is on-going, more and more results point to PRP as being a promising and successful treatment option.
Tap Into the Potential
If you’ve endured a sports injury or are suffering from chronic Achilles pain that is keeping you from being active, PRP is a treatment worth looking into. Learn more about platelet-rich plasma at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS are happy to answer any questions you may have. Just call (512) 328-8900 or visit us online today.
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