An innovative approach to relieve pain by promoting long-lasting healing of musculoskeletal conditions is now available through Dr. Tom DiStefano, orthopedic surgeon at St. Francis Orthopedic & Sports Medicine. Autologous conditioned plasma therapy, more commonly known as platelet rich plasma (PRP), is a revolutionary new treatment that is showing exciting potential faster recovery from sports medicine injuries such as hamstring strains, quadriceps strain, MCP sprains and high ankle sprains, just to name a few.
Surprisingly simple, PRP therapy involves taking a small quantity of the patient’s own blood, placing it in a centrifuge that spins the blood at high speeds to separate the blood’s components and injecting it back into and around the point of injury. Because it is the patient’s own blood, there is no risk of a transmissible infection and a very low risk of allergic reaction. The concentrated plasma jump-starts and significantly strengthens the body’s natural healing signal.
The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes, including preparation and recovery time. Performed safely in the physician office, PRP therapy relieves pain without the risks of surgery, general anesthesia, or hospital stays and without a prolonged recovery. In fact, most people return to their usual activities right after the procedure. The process is completely safe since the substances used are derived from the patient’s own body.
While responses to treatment vary, up to three injections may be given within a six-month time frame, usually performed two to three weeks apart. However, patients have experienced complete relief after the first or second injection.
Elite athletes including Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers ,Takashi Saito of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jose Reyes New York Mets have undergone successful PRP therapy without adverse effects. However, the treatment is not restricted to high-profile athletes. PRP has been found to be effective in treating such conditions as partial rotator cuff tears; plantar fasciitis; tennis elbow; ankle sprains; tendonitis; and ligament sprains.
“Athletes value PRP therapy for its ability to help accelerate recovery from certain injuries, reduce the need for surgery and allow a quicker return to sport,” explains Dr. DiStefano. “However, anyone with a tendon or ligament injury may be considered a candidate for PRP therapy.”
When PRP is injected it stimulates the tendon or ligament causing mild inflammation that triggers the healing cascade in musculoskeletal injuries and arthritis, and allows even a severely damaged tissue to heal. Most patients don’t require anything more than cold pack for pain from the procedure. Often, following a PRP injection, an “achy” soreness is felt. This “soreness” is a positive sign that healing has been set in motion. The soreness can last for several days but gradually decreases as healing and tissue repair occurs.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. DiStefano, call St. Francis Orthopedic & Sports Medicine at (660) 562-7999. Dr. DiStefano is board-certified with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He offers a walk-in sports injury clinic from 8 to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.