PRP injections have been shown to relieve acute and chronic pain and accelerate healing of injured tissues and joints. Conditions aided by PRP include plantar fasciitis, meniscus tears, osteoarthritis of the spine, hip and knee, ligament sprains, and rotator cuff tears. This non-surgical therapy is an injection of a concentrated mixture of the patient’s own blood.
The limited blood supply and poor healing properties of ligaments, cartilage and tendons make treatment necessary after injury. Unlike physical therapy or medications (like NSAIDs) that don’t treat the underlying cause of pain, PRP injections can accelerate the healing process, eliminating the cause of pain. For conditions like lateral epicondylitis, PRP Therapy can be an effective treatment.
Lateral epicondylitis is common in people who play a lot of tennis or other racquet sports, thus giving the condition its more common name, “tennis elbow.” It is important to recognize that any activity which involves twisting your wrist repetitively can lead to this condition. We see painters, plumbers, construction workers, cooks, and even butchers develop tennis elbow, due to repetitive motions in wrist and forearm. This condition may also develop from constant computer keyboard and mouse use. Essentially, when you use the same muscles over and over again, small tears develop in the tendon. Over time, this leads to irritation and pain where the tendon is attached to the bone.
Where there are tendon injuries, blood supply is short. PRP is used to give the injured area a boost so that the injury can heal quickly and completely. The PRP process begins by taking a small sample of the patient’s blood (about 60ml). It’s very similar to having a routine blood test performed at your doctor’s clinic. The blood is collected and placed into the Harvest Technologies’ Platelet Concentrate System (our preferred system). The container is then placed in a centrifuge where your blood is spun for 14 minutes. When the centrifuge has stopped spinning, your blood components are separated into its primary components – platelets and white blood cells, plasma and red blood cells.
A portion of the plasma is removed. The patient’s concentrated platelets are mixed with the remaining plasma to form a concentrated solution. This platelet-rich solution is then injected into and around the injured tissues.
The concentrated platelets release many growth factors that promote a natural immune response. Macrophages – specialized white blood cells – rush in to remove damaged cells and prepare the tissue for healing. Stem cells and other cells multiply, repair and rebuild the damaged tissue. This accelerated healing response reduces pain, promotes increased strength and improves joint function.
"The entire PRP treatment process takes about an hour and the patient is able to return home the same day. There is minimal discomfort during the treatment. Patients are advised not to take any anti-inflammatory medication since it may interfere in the natural healing process of PRP."
PRP does not pose any danger of allergy, hypersensitivity, or foreign-body reaction and it is a safe choice for many patients. Prognosis is generally good. Full recovery from injection usually occurs within one week of the procedure. Many patients require three to four treatments before the injured tissues are completely healed and they return to a normal, active lifestyle.
PRP Treatment has many prospects. While it has been more widely used in pain management and sports-related injuries (perhaps you’ve seen it used on pro athletes), we are beginning to use PRP therapy for hair loss and facial treatments. Probably one of the most exciting prospects of PRP is that it works to heal the cause of the injury, not just relieve pain. This also speaks to underlying principles of naturopathic medicine. It is much better to work with the patient to find the root of the problem. For tennis elbow, we know what the cause is and work efficiently to heal you so you can get back out on the court.