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Could Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy Heal Your Chronic Hamstring Injury?

June 27, 2011

You’ll see it mostly in sprinters: a pulled hamstring. Though it’s certainly not isolated to these athletes.

Football players can pull a hamstring. Baseball players. Soccer players. Just about anybody who is involved in a sport that demands sudden bursts of speed from the athlete.

Could be the tennis player darting after ball in the far corner. A wide receiver breaking out of his pattern to catch a ball. A basketball player chasing down a stolen ball.

These maneuvers put enormous strain on the hamstring, basically pulling it beyond capacity, which results in an injury that sidelines the athlete.

When a Hamstring Injury Is Chronic

With proper sports medicine practices like rest, stretching and lightweight exercises, an athlete can properly heal from a hamstring pull.

But allowing enough time during the recovery period for rest is very important. Impatient athletes and their coaches can aggravate the injury if they shorten the rest period.

That can lead to a cycle of recurring injury to the hamstring.

In some cases extended rest will lead to a full recovery. But often times all other therapies fail and the injury is simply resistant to a full recovery.

Only once you’ve exhausted all other therapy options should you then consider platelet-rich plasma injections.

What Are Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections?

First you should know that PRP injections are not illegal. It’s not the same as blood doping or using growth hormones.

You are using your own blood and re-injecting it back into your body (at the site of the injury) within a few minutes time.

See, PRP therapy starts by drawing your blood, then spinning that blood in a centrifuge until there is a concentration of plasma cells and growth factors. That substance is then injected into your injured tissue.

In theory, the substance speeds healing and improves the tissues health.

Will PRP Injections Work for Your Hamstring Injury?

There’s no question: scientists aren’t yet clear about what makes PRP work, even with the anecdotal stories of its healing potential and minimized side-effects of healing.

But if quality of life and avoiding the rigors of surgical repair are important to you—whether you are a professional or amateur athlete—then PRP therapy could be a viable option for you.

But there’s a hitch: only after conventional treatment methods have failed should you evaluate PRP therapy for your hamstring injury.

If you want more information, read my article on the PRP therapy side effects.

Dr. Rick Lehman is a distinguished orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri and an articular cartilage reconstruction pioneer He owns U. S. Sports Medicine in Kirkwood, MO, and LehmanHealth. Learn more about Dr. Rick.


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