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Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy Gold Standard for Tendonitis Treatment?

May 9, 2011

From competitive runners to casual tennis players, tendonitis can affect just about everybody sometime in their life.

The condition, which is an inflamed tendon (that thick fibrous cord that attaches muscles to bones) due to overuse, can occur in the rotator cuff or patellar tendon and is most of the time temporary and treatment involves extended rest, application of ice, elevation and ibuprofen.

Tendonitis is most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels and when it affects certain athletes, it takes on different names: golfer’s knee, tennis elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, swimmer’s shoulder and jumper’s knee.

If the tendonitis gets really bad, cortisone injections and physical therapy are necessary. Most of the times these treatments heal the condition, but it’s not unusual for the condition to demand further treatment.

Severe tendinitis can lead to a ruptured tendon, which means surgical repair. But most cases of are successfully treated with rest and medications to reduce the pain and inflammation.

When the actual tendon and sheath are replaced by scar tissue, the condition becomes tendonapathy. Relentless pain usually follows. Naturally, use of that part of the body declines and the sufferer can feel crippled. When the dysfunction and pain reach that point, more advanced options need to be sought.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Tendonitis

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy is one of these options. PRP therapy starts by drawing blood from an athlete, then spinning that blood in a centrifuge until there is a concentration of plasma cells and growth factors. That substance is then injected into the athlete’s injured tissue.

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

According to some researchers, several in vitro and in vivo studies have uncovered potential benefits in treating tennis elbow with PRP therapy. Other studies have proven that PRP has value for treating Achilles tendonitis and plantar fascilitis.

PRP Therapy Encourages the Natural Healing Process

It is quite possible that in the future PRP injections will become the gold standard treatment for tendonitis. This is especially true to those patients who fail to respond to conventional treatments like physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. In fact, PRP therapy may save an athlete from the rigors of surgery and the lost time involved with recovery.

Some anecdotal evidence coming out of Europe demonstrates that injuries like groin pulls and ankle sprains are being effectively healed by PRP treatments. Professional athletes from Europe who are opting for PRP therapy to treat sports injuries include soccer and hockey players.

There’s something very natural about allowing the body to heal itself. That’s basically what PRP therapy does. And as the treatment of acute and painful tendonitis with PRP advances, the future for those suffering looks very promising indeed. No longer will surgery be their only option.

Will PRP Therapy Work for You?

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 sports injury.

In fact, the International Olympic Committee issued a cautionary note on PRP therapy: “Proceed with caution in the use of P.R.P. in athletic sporting injuries” because “We believe more work on the basic science needs to be undertaken.”


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