Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Best known for their importance in clotting blood, your platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are important in the healing of injuries. PRP therapy is a process whereby your own blood is drawn and then infused with additional platelets from other blood cells. The concentration of platelets is increased using a process called centrifugation. The resulting plasma is then injected into the site of your injury/surgery. It’s not exactly clear how PRP works, but laboratory studies have shown that the increased concentration of growth factors in the PRP can speed up the healing process.
PRP Therapy is making headlines not only for its potential, but also because of its proponents. Some of the world’s most elite athletes — golf’s Tiger Woods, baseball’s Takashi Saito and football’s Hines Ward — have used PRP for wound healing.
Stem Cell Therapy
Another progressive procedure is Stem Cell Therapy. Stem cells are your body’s raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated.
Stem cell therapy uses laboratory-grown cells. Researchers manipulate the stem cells so that they specialize into specific types of cells. These specialized cells are then implanted into the patient.
Stem Cell Use in Orthopedics
In orthopedics, stem cells are used to treat acute and chronic injuries of muscle, tendon, ligaments, bone, and cartilage. Specific conditions that can be treated with Stem Cell Therapy include mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the joints, particularly the hip and knee joints. Tendon injuries, such as partial tears of the rotator cuff of the shoulder, have responded well to Stem Cell Therapy.
Studies have shown Stem Cell Therapy to be safe and low-risk. The effectiveness of Stem Cell Therapy is still being researched.