Platelet-rich plasma may heal sports injuries

January 1, 2014


Platelet-rich plasma may heal sports injuries

The use of platelet-rich plasma to repair injuries to ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints has become more widespread among amateur and professional athletes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Researchers found that it is now a common practice in sports medicine.

Composed of a patient's own blood cells, PRP is an all-natural way to stimulate tissue growth and strengthen the body's healing process. The plasma is made by removing blood from the patient's body and placing it into a centrifuge, which separates the platelets from the blood cells. Then, the PRP is injected directly into the site of the wound. While high-profile athletes such as Tiger Woods and Kobe Byrant have used the treatment to rebound from sports injuries in the past, little evidence of the effects of PRP existed until now. 

"The hype around PRP definitely came before the science," said Wellington Hsu, the study's lead author. "While evidence suggests that PRP improves tissue healing, we also found that success varies depending on the preparation method and composition of the PRP, medical condition, location on the body and tissue type."

According to the researchers, PRP is a proven way to treat arthritis in the ankle and elbow. It is also a beneficial healing method for those who have undergone ACL reconstruction. However, the researchers stated that more studies on the effects of PRP for osteoarthritis of the knee are needed, though they were encouraged by current research. So far, the only procedures that PRP is not beneficial for are ones that deal with bone healing or grafting. PRP should also be avoided in spinal cord fusion, the researchers said. 

This latest study builds on previous ones that found that, while promising, PRP needed more evidence and clinical trials to determine its overall benefits. According to a previous paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, PRP was most commonly used by mouth, jaw and neck surgeons, and it was only in the last few years that sports medicine physicians began testing the treatment. 

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