If you’re watching the Timberwolves play the Washington Wizards today, you won’t be seeing their All-Star Point Guard John Wall. That’s because he’s out for several weeks after getting PRP treatment to his knee. He had sustained a knee-to-knee contact that was causing lingering pain, and his team doctors coordinated with the Cleveland Clinic’s sports doctors and decided that PRP was the best option to stimulate his healing and prevent chronic pains that might bother him in the postseason.
If you follow professional sports, you’ve probably heard a lot about PRP. Kobe Bryant travelled to Germany for PRP on his degenerated knees back in 2011, which allowed him another 5 productive seasons before he retired. That treatment was only allowed in Germany as the FDA has issues with how long that doctor stores blood and how it is processed, but countless other athletes have undergone a more standard PRP treatment in the United States to recover from injuries faster and more completely. Steph Curry underwent PRP on a grade-1 sprained MCL in order to return to the 2016 playoffs faster. Hines Ward famously suffered a grade-2 sprain of his MCL in the 2009 AFC Championship game, but had PRP to stimulate his healing and allow him to play in Super Bowl XL, going on to be named Super Bowl MVP. Tiger Woods had PRP to his LCL and his Achilles tendon in 2008 and had one of the best years of his career in 2009. Stephen Strasburg and dozens of other major league pitchers have undergone PRP rather than Tommy John’s surgery or as an additional treatment to stimulate healing in the elbow.
PRP works by stimulating the body’s natural healing response by providing extra growth factors to the site of injury. The patient’s blood is removed from a vein in the arm and then centrifuged to separate it into layers. The platelet layer is removed and concentrated in a smaller volume of plasma, which is the water portion of the blood. Platelets can be concentrated anywhere from 2 to 20x the body’s natural concentrations, depending on how advanced of a lab processing system is used. Platelets contain the growth factors that typically stimulate repair of tendons and ligaments- such as after a sprained ankle- but can also help reduce the pain of arthritis and chronic degeneration. It is not related to blood doping (where red blood cells are concentrated and reinjected to improve oxygen-carrying capacity) or human growth hormone (HGH), both of which are banned in sport. PRP simply harnesses the body’s natural healing mechanism to stimulate repair of chronic or acute injuries, tendonitis, and arthritis. While professional athletes make headlines seeking these new treatments, more and more weekend warriors are coming to Rejuv Medical to reverse their degeneration and get back on the playing field with the help of Platelet Rich Plasma.