Sports Medicine Has A New Acronym: PRP

Injuries are an inevitable part of playing sports. Some players can fight through bumps and bruises, but others need more extended rehabilitation, especially when the joint is affected. Sprains, fractures, and ligament injuries are common knee injuries that can occur, especially in contact sports. Surgery or chronic use of pain medication has long been the go-to option for treatment. Now, athletes can turn to platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a form of regenerative medicine, to treat the injury. PRP leverages the body’s natural healing abilities, getting athletes back to the game sooner.


How does PRP help your knee?

Platelets are cells within the blood that help with clotting, especially after a wound. These cells band together and release proteins called growth factors to prevent excess bleeding and repair and restore damaged tissue. The regeneration happens through stem cells, which the platelets recruit en masse to accelerate the healing process. Scientists have discovered that platelets are powerhouses in healing muscles and ligaments. By extracting a blood sample, doctors can separate platelets from red blood cells and plasma with a centrifuge machine. After combining the platelets with the plasma, the nutrient-rich material is injected into the injured area. Here are 3 benefits for athletes with knee injuries.

1. Less pain with fewer drugs

Knee injuries, whether acute or chronic, often come with inflammation, pain, and swelling. Athletes can use medication to manage the pain and return to sports as quickly as possible. However, some athletes prefer to avoid strong opioids due to the potential dangers. Moreover, medication merely masks the pain without addressing the root cause. PRP injections begin to treat pain at the source by regenerating damaged muscles or ligaments. Additionally, some studies have reported PRP as effective in reducing joint pain. With platelet rich plasma, athletes can use less pain medication and see better long-term results.

2. No more extended timeouts

Knee injuries can sideline athletes for weeks or even months. Meniscus tears, for instance, can require several weeks for recovery and additional time to return to full fitness. PRP can reduce this timeline by limiting inflammation, accelerating healing, and improving function. The additional stem cells also enhance the body’s natural healing abilities. For athletes, this can mean returning to sports days or weeks sooner than expected. Doctors even suggest PRP as part of the recovery plan after surgery to help with lowering inflammation and pain.

3. Potentially skipping surgery

When an injury is moderate to severe, surgery is often recommended. However, some athletes prefer to avoid surgery and find natural ways to heal. This could be for personal reasons or to reduce the risk of a more severe injury later. The use of PRP may prevent the need for surgery, reducing inflammation and pain by restoring hyaluronic acid production. In some cases, PRP regenerates lost tissue, which can be essential for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains or meniscus tears.

Risks and considerations

Platelet rich plasma has been used in different applications for decades. However, with any procedure, surgical or not, comes risks. For instance, there is a chance of infection, bleeding, calcification, and allergic reactions at the injection site. PRP also requires multiple sessions lasting several weeks and may not work for every individual. Athletes and people in generally good health can benefit from PRP. This regenerative medicine also works well as a part of a comprehensive rehabilitation strategy.

A long-term investment in your knees

Athletes who struggle with knee injuries can be sidelined for months with chronic pain. With PRP, the body’s natural healing abilities are amplified. Continually injecting platelets into the bothersome knee reduces inflammation and helps regenerate tissue, getting athletes back to the game faster.

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