Accelerated Natural Healing for tendon and ligament injuries You hear a pop and feel the pain. You just injured an important part of your body, before you can say; “Ice pack please,” your body has already dispatched its own emergency response expert – blood – to the site of the injury. Inside our blood are platelets. These sticky, colorless components allow surface injuries, such as a paper cut, to clot. Contained in platelets are growth factors. It is these growth factors that stimulate cell production and allow many types of injuries – including tears in deep, soft tissues – to heal. This system, though highly effective for most injuries, leaves certain tissues at a biological disadvantage. Because tendons, ligaments and some other parts of your musculoskeletal system have a limited blood supply, growth factors may not reach the injury site in sufficient quantities to promote rapid or complete cell repair. The result can be a longer or inadequate recovery, which may ultimately result in a need for surgical intervention. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a concentration of a patient’s own platelets and growth factors used to improve the healing environment for certain tendon, ligament and other orthopedic conditions. This concentrate is also referred to as “autologous conditioned plasma (ACP).” Professional and amateur athletes value PRP therapy for its ability to help accelerate recovery from certain injuries, reduce the need for surgery and allow a quicker return to sport. However, anyone with a tendon or ligament injury may be considered and candidate for PRP therapy.
Improving the healing environment with PRP therapy
For more than 20 years, concentrated platelets have been used to help accelerate recovery following injury or surgery. Heart surgeons first used this treatment to promote wound healing and minimize blood loss. Specialists in many other disciplines, including orthopedics, followed. Currently, some joint surgeons use concentrated platelets in patients to decrease bleeding at the surgical site, reduce the need for narcotic therapy after surgery, and improve range of motion. In sports medicine, PRP therapy has been recommended as an alternative to surgery in patients with chronic elbow tendonitis, a category of injuries that includes tennis elbow. For other tendon and ligament injuries, there are examples of PRP therapy accelerating injury recovery in athletes and allowing a faster return to sport.