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Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections Help Heal Soft-Tissue Injuries

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Sports Medicine

UW Health Sports Medicine is one of the few clinics in the Midwest to offer platelet-rich plasma (PRP), an injection therapy that uses a patient’s own "supercharged" blood to heal chronic soft-tissue injuries. PRP is a fraction of plasma that has been isolated and used to enhance regeneration in tendons and other soft tissues.

 

The healing potential of PRP has been attributed to the release of multiple growth factors from the highly concentrated platelets.

 

In PRP therapy, physicians draw the patient's blood and concentrate the platelets with a centrifuge. They then inject the platelets directly into the injured area using ultrasound guidance to direct the needle. Over time, the injected platelets release growth factors that stimulate tendon and tissue healing, and recruit cells that will eventually form new tissue.

 

UW Health sports medicine physician John Wilson, MD offers PRP therapy primarily to recreational and competitive athletes with chronic soft-tissue injuries, or people with overuse injuries due to physically demanding jobs.

 

Clinical outcomes show that PRP may be an effective option for patients who have tried everything else—physical therapy, splints, orthotics - but who are not interested in surgery. Patients typically notice improvement after one or two injections, though total recovery usually takes three to six months, depending on the severity of the condition.

 

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Promising Research, Future Investigation

 

In a recent study, Dr. Wilson found that patients with chronic tennis elbow who received a single platelet-rich (PRP) injection had a 75 percent reduction in pain over a four-month period. In addition, ultrasounds performed four months after treatment showed physical evidence of healing.

 

The UW Health Sports Medicine team is currently enrolling patients in a study which will assess the effectiveness of PRP versus cortisone injection for chronic plantar fasciitis. Future investigations will evaluate PRP as a treatment for osteoarthritis and acute soft-tissue injuries.

To refer a patient to be evaluated for the study, contact OrthoAccess staff at uwhealth.org/orthoaccess, (888) 978-4611 or by email at orthoaccess@uwhealth.org.