Pain management is typically an important component of healing from any injury. Of course, in the case of sports injuries, the concern isn’t necessarily just about returning to health. Athletes are more likely to be worried about being able to regain a high performance level.
While controlling pain is by itself-helpful in regaining joint function, it’s also important to look at treatments that promote genuine healing.One newer form of treatment, platelet-rich plasma, has gotten some attention in sports medicine for its potential to help restore tissue.
How platelet-rich plasma works: This is usually done as a minor outpatient procedure using the patient’s own blood. After this is drawn from the patient, it’s processed in a centrifuge machine that spins the blood at high speed until it separates out into different components, including plasma. This process can be done in a few slightly different ways. It typically includes adding a solution at the beginning that helps keep the blood from clotting before it can be separated.
The plasma that is left when other types of cells have been removed includes high levels of platelets, the cells that help to prevent and stop bleeding and that form clots. While they’re an important part of immediate healing, these along with other growth factors are thought to help tissue repair itself, and to promote natural stem cell growth and development. The plasma is injected at the site of the injury.
The effects: In the short term, there may be some increased achiness as the injured tissue begins to respond to treatment. This will subside, however. The healing process promoted by platelet-rich plasma is more gradual than other types, involving slow improvement over time as the tissue repairs itself.
As important as the platelets themselves are the different types of growth factors that become concentrated, such as for connective tissue and epidermal (or skin) growth. However, the process by which this works, as well as its demonstrated effectiveness, is still being studied. Some athletes need to be careful about the details of their treatment in order to avoid problems with doping tests. Platelet rich plasma treatment can leave effects similar to human growth hormone, whole blood doping, and other banned performance-enhancing treatments.
What it can be used for: Platelet rich plasma is most commonly used to help treat injuries to tendons and other types of connective tissue. It is thought to be especially helpful for the Achilles tendon or similar areas that generally get poor blood flow, making healing more difficult. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, along with rotator cuff bursitis, are other forms of tendonitis sometimes treated this way.
After some types of operations, including plastic surgery and oral surgery, platelet rich plasma is used to help heal other types of soft tissue and skin.It can also sometimes be used to help promote bone and cartilage repair in conditions like osteoarthritis. In some cases, it can be used for nerve injuries.
Although a new technique in sports medicine, platelet rich plasma has been in use for several years now to promote healing from all of these types of injuries. Although not well clinically studied at this point, it is generally safe and often thought to be helpful. Pain management doctors in Las Vegas can discuss platelet rich plasma treatment as an option for patients who haven’t been helped by other nonsurgical treatments.