Yet another pro athlete has elected to treat an injury with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Pro footballer and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen underwent PRP injections after injuring his elbow in early November 2022. But why? Don’t the experts claim that PRP injections are useless?
Some medical experts do not believe in PRP therapy’s efficacy. But some does not equal all. PRP injections, along with other types of regenerative medicine, are fully supported by a large number of clinicians throughout the country. For pro athletes, it is all about the results.
Getting Back into Competition
Allen didn’t immediately turn to PRP injections after injuring his elbow. But the desire to get back in the competition more quickly is what ultimately motivated him to give them a try. Just a few weeks after starting the therapy, he was back on the field.
Josh Allen’s story is not unique. Just run an internet search on all the pro athletes who have turned to PRP injections and then read their stories. You will hear one after another describe how opting for regenerative medicine got them back into competition faster. Many of them experienced a more full healing rather than just mere pain management.
It Works with the Body
In fairness, there isn’t a ton of clinical data to prove regenerative medicine’s efficacy. This is not because researchers are afraid to test things like PRP injections. It is actually because current regulations allow PRP and stem cell injections as long as the material in the injections themselves is autologous – meaning donated by the patient being treated.
Even without a ton of clinical evidence, there is still plenty of anecdotal evidence to look to. Pro athletes try PRP injections because they believe the therapy works. It is as simple as that.
As for how it works, the jury is still out. The pain management experts at Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX say that PRP injections are designed to work with the body to promote healing. It’s all about what is in the injections.
Plasma, Platelets, and Growth Factors
The human body is naturally designed to heal itself. When a soft tissue injury occurs, the body recognizes that injury and immediately begins to flood the area with the biological tools to make the necessary repairs. But natural healing takes time.
PRP injections are believed to decrease the necessary time by encouraging the body to more aggressively do what it normally does. How is this accomplished? By injecting plasma, platelets, and growth factors into the site of injury.
Everything contained in a PRP injection is already in the patient’s body. The only difference is that it is more concentrated in the injection. Therefore, the injury site is flooded with a higher concentration of platelets and growth factors, thereby encouraging the body to heal more quickly.
A Simple, Outpatient Procedure
One of the most exciting aspects of PRP therapy is that it is minimally invasive. It is conducted as a simple, outpatient surgery that takes less than an hour in most cases. Here is the basic process:
- The injury site is located and evaluated
- Blood is drawn from the patient using a standard procedure
- The blood is processed in a centrifuge to concentrate plasma and platelets
- The resulting concentration is injected directly into the site of injury
Some patients respond extremely well to a single treatment. Others undergo multiple treatments. It is really up to the doctor and patient to determine how many treatments are necessary for maximum benefit. As for pro athletes, they will generally undergo as many treatments as necessary to get back in the competition.