Professional and Olympic Athletes Using Platelet Rich Plasma for Joint Pain and Muscle Injuries
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) has been used medically since the late 1990’s. Dentists were the first to use this natural healing mechanism to improve outcomes of dental surgery and tooth extractions. PRP has been used since 2000 for accelerated healing during surgery, following orthopedic, thoracic and cardiac surgical procedures. PRP has found wide use in non-surgical orthopedic treatment of knee and shoulder pain. It can be used for a variety of common sports injuries.
Platelet rich plasma can heal injured tendons, ligaments, muscle, cartilage and bone. Major league sports has discovered the incredible natural healing effects of PRP. Major sports leagues have adopted PRP therapy as one of the first line treatments of their injured athletes. Professional sports has recognized the economic value of PRP in that one PRP treatment costs $1500-2000 as compared to the typical orthopedic surgery which can range from $35,000 – 75,000. Treatment with platelet rich plasma has virtually no down time and does not require months of physical rehabilitation. Healing time is faster than with surgery and the complication rate is negligible. Professional athletes can get back in the game faster. The International Olympic Committee has approved the use of PRP in Olympic candidates and athletes. Platelet rich plasma has become an early treatment option in the treatment of professional athletes that have suffered muscle, joint, tendon and ligament injures.
NFL Players Who Have Received PRP
Hines Ward, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, has use platelet rich plasma therapy on at least two occasions for a torn medial collateral ligament — a knee injury. The use of PRP allowed him to go on and win two Super Bowls. Mr. Ward has attributed his ability to play to receiving PRP.
Other NFL players have successfully been treated with PRP for various injuries. Troy Polamalu, a Steeler’s defensive safety, has had his share of traumatic injuries. As one of the top defensive players, Polamalu has had repeated trauma to his knees. He had one significant MCL injury for which he had PRP therapy.
Donald Jones of the Buffalo Bills and Andre Dixon of the Hartford Colonials have also had PRP therapy for their injuries -all with excellent success. Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain. To expedite the recovery process, Johnson underwent platelet rich plasma therapy.
These professional athletes were able to get back to playing football in only a few short weeks, instead of the normal 2-4 months of healing and rehabilitation time it take for more conventional therapies. Surgical treatment would sideline these highly trained athletes for a whole season. NFL physicians have discovered that PRP is the answer to getting these players healed quickly, with needing to resort to surgery. Platelet rich plasma regenerates new, stronger tissue in these injured players.
Major League Baseball and PRP
Alex Rodriguez, one of Major League Baseball’s most famous players used five PRP treatments to accelerate healing and recovery following hip surgery that left him in pain. His trainers were amazed to see how much faster A-Rod was able to get back into playing baseball.
Takashi Saito suffered an elbow injury in his pitching arm while playing as a Pitcher for the LA. At 38, surgery was not a good option, as recovery could have taken as much as 9 months. He had PRP therapy and was able to resume pitching in only a few weeks. Saito credited his unlikely recovery from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament to PRP therapy.
In one year, Major League Baseball’s 30 teams had 519 players who spent 28,602 days on the disabled list for injuries sustained while playing baseball. This represented $455 million in total salary sitting idle, as these athletes were sidelined. PRP therapy can and does have a major effect in reducing recovery and down time.
National Basketball Association and PGA
One of the most famous basketball players, Kobe Bryant, has had several arthroscopic knee surgeries for right knee pain. He went to Germany to receive platelet rich plasma therapy. Being in his 30’s, he did not see more surgery as a good alternative. The promise of non-surgical, more rapid improvement with PRP therapy for his knee pain convinced this basketball legend to undergo therapy. Similarly professional golf star, Tiger Woods has undergone platelet rich plasma therapy more than once following ACL reconstructive surgery. His knee pain continued after surgery and he went with PRP with beneficial results.
National Tennis and World Soccer
Other major national and international sports have recognized PRP therapy as an outstanding alternative to “standard” conservative therapy and certainly its benefits over surgical intervention. World tennis star, Rafael Nadal underwent PRP therapy after injuring his knee. His physician, Dr. Mikel Sanchez, described platelet rich plasma as a miraculous regenerative treatment. Indeed, that is what PRP does, regenerates new tissue. Major League Soccer players have also discovered the potential for better, rapid healing with PRP therapy.
Jonathan Bornstein, one of the top new young stars in soccer, twisted his knee resulting in a torn ligament. Facing the prospect of being out of playing soccer for 10 weeks, Bornstein elected to have PRP for his knee injury. He was back to running in 3 weeks and was ready to resume playing soccer only 2 weeks later. The list of professional athletes in a broad range of Major League sports, who have undergone platelet rich plasma therapy is growing every week. This list is beyond the scope of this article. The conclusion though is that PRP therapy is here to stay in the treatment of these injured, highly trained athletes.
PRP therapy is considered to be acceptable medical therapy by the International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency and most professional sports association. Platelet rich plasma therapy is distinctly not blood doping and has been ruled on by the IOC and WADA as well as professional athletic associations.
Platelet rich plasma is a unique, non-surgical therapy to heal injured tissue. The platelets contain growth factors, cytokines and other agents that trigger the healing cascade. The difference is that with PRP therapy, a massively concentrated amount of platelets and tissue regeneration proteins are injected directly into the damaged tissue. The body uses the same natural healing process for injuries but not in this high concentration. With this high concentration of healing platelets and growth factors, injured tissues can be regenerated and healed in only a few weeks. The new tissue formed is stronger and healthier. Many patients can have pain relief in 3 weeks. Many other painful conditions can be treated with PRP. If you suffer from joint, muscle, tendon or back pain – contact Sarasota Neurology for PRP therapy in Sarasota.
Photo Credits: tomcoolinmiami (Hines Ward) Keith Allison (Alex Rodriguez) Keith Allison (Takashi Saito) Francisco Diez (Rafael Nadal)