Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Stem Cell Therapy to Help Heal Injuries
A sports-related Injury is not simply frustrating, it can disrupt active involvement in sports and your quality of life. For professional athletes, injury can even be potentially career-ending.
Most sports-related injuries can be healed or at least controlled through medications, physical therapy, or surgery, but there are new emerging techniques that have been credited with getting patients back in the game faster than before: PRP and stem cell treatment.
In fact, PRP and stem cell treatment have been utilized by many famous athletes, such as Stephen Curry, Tiger Woods, and Rafael Nadal. And now, EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region patients have access to these breakthrough treatments too!
Our board-certified Sports Medicine physicians are expertly trained in treating applicable patients with PRP and stem cell therapy techniques. For those unfamiliar with these new treatment options, we delve into the basics below.
What Is PRP?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a highly concentrated source of growth factor proteins (known as platelets) derived from the patient’s own blood (plasma). Blood is mainly liquid, but it does contain microscopic solid components, such as white cells, red cells, and platelets. Each platelet contains hundreds of proteins called growth factors, which are critical to the body’s healing process.
To develop this, your EmergeOrtho doctor draws a portion of your blood, and then separates the platelets from the other solid components within the blood. Then, through a process called centrifugation, the platelets’ concentration is increased. Last, the increased concentration of platelets is recombined with the remaining blood.
How Is PRP Applied to the Patient?
PRP is applied in one of two ways:
- Via injection to the injured area
- Via stitching to surgical sites
Which Pro Athletes Have Successfully Used PRP?
There are a number of professional athletes that have successfully undergone PRP treatment, which ultimately helped them return to their sport’s career:
- Los Angeles Angels Pitcher, Garrett Richards
In 2016, Richards suffered from a severe ulnar collateral ligament tear that would require Tommy John Surgery and two years on the bench. After undergoing PRP treatments, he was back starting the season, six months later, without having to undergo Tommy John Surgery.
- Golden State Warriors Point Guard, Stephen Curry
In 2016 during the playoffs, Curry suffered a grade-one MCL tear in his knee. A typical recovery time for a grade-one MCL tear is three weeks, but with PRP treatment therapy, Curry was able to get back in the game in just two weeks.
- Former Los Angeles Dodgers Closing Pitcher, Takashi Saito
During the 2008 MLB season, Saito suffered a partial tear to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing elbow. In an attempt to avoid Tommy John Surgery, which would have benched him for 10 to 14 months, Saito opted for PRP treatment. He was back pitching in September without a trace of pain. He went on to continue PRP and Stem Cell Injections for six years.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells are special cells in the human body that have the potential to develop into more stem cells, or another type of cell, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells, or bone cells. These cells can help in the repairing and healing of damaged tissues.
In the laboratory under specific conditions, stem cells divide to form more cells, called daughter cells. Stem cells are usually extracted from fully developed adult tissue, such as bone marrow. No other cell in the body has the ability to transform into another type of cell.
How Is Stem Cell Therapy Applied to Patients?
Since stem cell therapy has a wide range of applications, stem cell therapy can be implemented and implanted:
- Via injection
- Via grafting
Which Pro Athletes Have Successfully Used Stem Cell Therapy?
A number of professional athletes have seen success with stem cell therapy, including:
- Retired Professional Golfer, Jack Nicklaus
During an interview, Nicklaus admitted that for most of his professional career, he suffered from debilitating back pain. He said despite trying various treatments, like cortisone shots and back surgery, he still suffered from chronic back pain. After receiving stem cell therapy in Munich, Germany, he was playing golf pain-free at a charity event four days later.
- Professional Tennis Player, Rafael Nadal
Chronic knee pain caused Nadal to sit out most of the 2012 tennis season. After many failed attempts to alleviate the pain, he tried stem cell therapy in 2013. In 2014, he went on to win ten titles.
- Major League Baseball (MLB) Pitcher, Bartolo Colon
In 2010, while playing for the White Sox, Colon missed the entire season due to an elbow injury. After undergoing stem cell therapy treatments, he was signed to the Yankees the following year and performed better than ever.
Are PRP and Stem Cell Treatments for You?
Modern regenerative medicine techniques such as PRP and stem cell treatments, have helped many professional athletes. With the trusted team at EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, we are confident they can help you too. Our ultimate goal is to help you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better. To see if you are a viable candidate for treatment, and to learn more, self-schedule an appointment now. Or, call us any time at (919) 220-5255.
Dr. Benjamin Petty is the Director of The Orthobiologic Center of EmergeOrtho-Triangle Region.