Platelet rich plasma therapy has been around for decades, but it's begun to pick up widespread recognition recently as more and more sports figures have chosen it over traditional medical procedures. Athletes who have opted for this alternative treatment are often considered the best in the world, including football players Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher, along with golfer Tiger Woods and baseball player Alex Rodriguez.

What exactly is PRP therapy? To begin treatment, a doctor extracts a small amount of blood from his or her patient and places it into a centrifuge. From there, the blood is separated into plasma, platelets and white and red blood cells. The doctor then injects PRP into the affected area. Platelets, which make up a fraction of our blood, are best known to clot wounds, but they can, as we'll soon discuss, do much more than stop bleeding.

If you're intrigued by the idea of PRP treatments, you might be wondering whether it could treat your ailment. Here are three common conditions PRP therapy treats.

"Tennis Elbow is caused by a slight tear in the elbow tendon."

1. Tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is most often seen in, to no surprise, tennis players, along with golfers who consistently overuse their arms, forearms and hand muscles. However, you don't have to be swinging a tennis racket or golf club to be diagnosed with tennis elbow. The injury is caused by a slight tear in the tendon that sits right along the elbow joint.

Tendon injuries usually take longer to heal than other injuries, such as broken bones. Bones heal much quicker because blood vessels regularly carry nutrients and oxygen to them. PRP could improve the healing time of other areas of the body, which are typically void of sufficient amounts of blood vessels.

2. Back pain
Have you been experiencing a lot of back pain even when sitting down and watching TV? Recovering from back pain can be a long, difficult road unless, of course, you use PRP therapy. Similar to other treatments, doctors identify the area of pain and inject PRP into it.

3. Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis causes joints to stiffen up in people who sit for too long. The result isn't just reduced mobility, but soreness. While methods exist to control arthritis, such as exercise, weight control and rest, few adequately counteract inflammation and alleviate pain.

According to a relatively new study, Clinical and MRI Outcomes After Platelet-rich Plasma Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis, PRP therapy is a viable treatment option for those suffering from this condition. In the study, researchers injected PRP into 15 patients and observed them after one week and then after one, three, six and 12 months.thereafter. Along with studying the overall effects of PRP on mobility and joint pain, researchers also looked at the knee's cartilage using MRI. As noted by Science Daily, the MRI, according to Hollis Potter, M.D., one author of the study, helps prevent subjective results. Researchers found that patients who received treatment stopped losing cartilage in contrast to those who didn't receive the treatment.

If you're convinced that PRP therapy is right for you, your next step is to talk to a doctor and find out more about this type of procedure. In general, PRP treatments take one to two hours to complete, including preparation and recovery. Unlike traditional surgery, PRP therapy doesn't involve incisions, cutting or removing body parts. It uses the body's own resources to naturally heal wounds and chronic conditions. Recovery time post procedure can take anywhere from a couple weeks to more, but in general, it doesn't take long to feel results.