PRP injections may help pitchers, other athletes with elbow injuries

February 15, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedic sports medicine

PRP injections may help pitchers with partial ulnar collateral ligament tears in their elbows.

Therapeutic use of platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP injections, may speed up the recovery of elbow injuries in baseball pitchers and other athletes, as reported at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Specialty Day meeting.

PRP injections are special preparations made from blood collected from a patient. This blood is processed in a way that creates a concentrated mixture of platelets, which are the cells that are responsible for blood clots and wound healing. Platelets are thought to contain growth factors that could speed up the healing process for injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

For the new study, the researchers enrolled 17 individuals who sustained a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear in their elbows. They were all treated with a single PRP injection after conservative treatments such as rest and physical therapy did not work.

By 18 weeks, 16 athletes were able to return to their sport. The average time to return was 10 weeks.

While this study demonstrated how PRP injections can help elbow injuries in the short term, further research is needed to determine the optimal concentration and number of injections, as well as the role of white blood cells and ultrasound guidance, according to lead researcher Scott Crow, M.D.

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