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What is PRP, and why are pro athletes using it?

By Salt Lake Regional Medical Center  |  Posted Sep 28th, 2017 @ 9:00pm


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What do Kobe Bryant, Hines Ward, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Alex Rodriguez and Tracy McGrady have in common? All of these professional sports stars have benefited from platelet-rich plasma therapy for treating injuries.

Doctors offer PRP therapy to ease pain and encourage long-lasting healing. In recent years, it has garnished more attention due to the rise in popularity of sporting activities, along with the publicity of high-profile athletes using the therapy.

PRP therapy is becoming the treatment of choice for musculoskeletal conditions and other soft-tissue injuries.

What is platelet-rich plasma?

Platelet-rich plasma is a method for relieving chronic pain in patients. This treatment approach is a non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical method for treating sports injuries and chronic conditions using platelets in the blood.

Dr. Robert Engelen, DO, at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center describes, "Platelets often act as the quarterback or director of the healing response by signaling other healing substances to migrate to the site of injury." He continues, "Since platelets are so imperative, a new procedure concentrates and increases the number of platelets and delivers them to the area in order to assist in tissue healing. This increased concentration of platelets is known as PRP (platelet rich plasma)."

In short, PRP therapy uses platelets from the patient’s blood to repair a damaged tendon or cartilage. It combats pain while boosting the body’s natural healing process.

How does platelet-rich plasma therapy work?

When the body experiences a soft-tissue injury, its first response is to send platelet cells containing growth and healing factors to the injured area. Platelets initiate the repair process and engage healing assistance from stem cells. PRP therapy injections deliver a high concentration of platelets to the affected area to boost healing.

Each year, thousands of patients choose PRP therapy to do the following:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Combat infection
  • Restore range of motion and flexibility
  • Continue athletic pursuits pain-free
  • Avoid surgery
  • Eliminate narcotics for pain management
  • Improve problems associated with osteoarthritis
  • Promote soft-tissue healing

What can PRP therapy do that other therapies can’t?

PRP therapy provides a non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical approach to sports injuries and chronic musculoskeletal conditions. It also accelerates the healing process and provides long-lasting results. PRP therapy provides a promising alternative to surgery by supporting safe and natural healing, according to the National Institutes of Health. The less invasive approach is what sets it apart from other methods for soft-tissue repair.

What issues can PRP therapy treat?

Athletes rely on PRP therapy for healing and often pair it with physical therapy to achieve maximum results. The combination of PRP therapy and physical therapy has helped many heal from their injuries and get back in the game quicker than those who haven’t used these services.

PRP therapy can be used for all of these injuries:

  • Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
  • Damaged wrist ligament
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Acromioclavicular joint
  • Degenerative osteoarthritis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Golf elbow
  • Chondromalacia patellar
  • Medial collateral ligament
  • Patella ligament (jumper’s knee)

PRP therapy keeps athletes and active adults off the sidelines and in action, where they belong. It boosts the body’s ability to heal from the inside out and allows the body the opportunity to regenerate, repair and restore natural function without surgeries and drugs.

For more information, contact Salt Lake Regional Medical Center's PRP expert, Dr. Robert Engelen, DO, Sports Medicine, at 801-533-2002.

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