In a previous post, NFL Players Turning to Stem Cells to Treat Gruesome Injuries, we talked about how some gridiron stars have opted to treat ligament tears with stem cells instead of going through reconstructive surgery. Other athletes, such as Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez, have previously used PRP therapy to treat injuries. While this helps the super athlete, can normal, everyday people use advanced medical procedures, such as PRP therapy, to treat similar conditions?
Marni Wesner, a sports medicine physician at the Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic and lead author of a new pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of PRP therapy on treating degenerative tendinopathies, says yes, it is possible.
Wesner and her team examined whether PRP could be a viable solution to treat acute or chronic tendinopathies, or soft tissue injuries. PRP, or platelet-rich plasma injections, is a type of non-surgical procedure that involves extracting blood from a patient's arm, separating the platelets with a centrifuge and then injecting them into the injured area.
To conduct the study, researchers examined nine participants with rotor cuff tendinopathy (as part of what they called an RCT study) and 178 others who had a variety of tendinopathies (as part of a cohort study). The groups were broken down into those who received PRP treatments and control groups.
Researchers injected 4 ml of platelets into patients receiving PRP and 4 mil of saline into the control groups. Participants then were required to undertake a three month standardized, home-based, daily exercise program and were monitored between one and three months depending on the study they were part of.
Wesner said their findings were remarkable.
" The MRI before and after showed structural change."
"We studied patients 35 to 60 years old with rotator cuff tendinopathy due to normal aging. For the first time, we were able to not only find reported improvements in pain and mobility, but also in the tissue – the MRI before and after showed structural change and a decrease in the size of tears," said Wesner, according to ScienceDaily.
Doug Gross, interim chair of physical therapy at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and corresponding author of the study, supported Wesner's claim that patients' health improved.
"Based on MRI findings before and after the injections, we saw improvements in the tissue six months later in five of seven patients undergoing PRP and an appropriate rehabilitation program. The healing in the tissue appeared to correspond with the reported improvement of the pain and also with the clinical assessment of function," explained Gross.
While this study only examined 187 patients, its real goal was to lay the groundwork for a more in-depth research later on tissue repairs.