Speeding Up Recovery

Getting injured is no fun, but whether a casual activity enthusiast or a professional athlete, accidents are a part of life. In some cases, injuries can’t resolve without medical interventions. When at-home solutions are no longer effective, traditional methods would require undergoing surgery to repair the damage. Nowadays, additional treatments are used to speed wound healing and get athletes back in the game. In particular, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are a popular solution and add-on option after surgery to facilitate recovery.

rio orthopedic sports medicine The Power Of Regenerative Medicine Can PRP Speed Up Recovery After An ACL Procedure

The creation of PRP

Once blood is collected from a patient, the sample is run through a centrifuge where the components are separated thanks to the machine’s rapid spinning. Blood is made of multiple parts, plasma, red blood cells, and platelets. The plasma is the liquid portion, while platelets are specialty blood cells that specifically aid in clotting and stimulating tissue regeneration to heal injuries. The red blood cells are separated out, and the remaining platelet-rich plasma is then used for the injection.

What is a PRP injection?

Platelet-rich plasma injections are considered a minimally invasive procedure and can usually be performed as an outpatient treatment. Once the PRP is created, a healthcare provider will inject the solution into the injured area. The goal is to increase the hormones, or biofactors, at the site of an injury to promote wound healing. Historically, PRP injections were a stand-alone option instead of surgery. Today, people can opt to have the injection following an operation to accelerate recovery.

Understanding ACL repair

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is critical for supporting movement and rotation in the knee. For most people, an ACL injury occurs when a person suddenly stops or changes direction. In most cases, an athlete with a torn ACL will need reconstructive surgery to correct the problem. During the procedure, the damaged ligament is removed and replaced with donor tissue that is usually harvested from the patient undergoing the operation. Typically, ACL reconstructive surgery is treated as an outpatient procedure.

Typical ACL recovery

For most athletes that undergo reconstructive surgery, the total timeline can take up to a year before an individual is cleared to return to previous activity levels. While people can go home the same day of the surgery, full independent mobility without crutches may not occur until 2-3 weeks later. Physical therapy (PT) is a critical component of recovery to regain range of motion (ROM) and strength. Swimming and running may be restricted until 4-5 months post-surgery.

Can PRP speed recovery?

Research is somewhat mixed over whether PRP injections can speed recovery or ensure better patient outcomes. For every clinical review confirming positive results, a competing study cites inconclusive or controversial evidence. However, studies generally state that more research is needed before making a definitive statement. Athletes wanting to get back into the game faster should consider speaking with a sports physician about options to treat and recover from ACL repair faster.

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