Athletes and active individuals who endure chronic pain from tendon injuries or osteoarthritis may finally get relief from a safe, non-surgical procedure. It's called Platelet-Rich Plasma (Cell) Therapy, and it utilizes platelets from the athletes' own blood to rebuild a damaged tendon or cartilage. It has been successful in not only relieving the pain, but also in jumpstarting the healing process.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy is done in an exam room and takes less than an hour. The patient's blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge for 15 minutes to separate out the platelets. The platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the damaged portion of the tendon or cartilage with the guidance of an ultrasound machine.
Injuries treated with Cell therapy include: rotator cuff, quadriceps, hamstring, Achilles tendon injuries and tennis elbow. Essentially any tendon or ligament injury except complete tears may be treated successfully with Cell therapy. Cell therapy is exactly the treatment needed to reduce the downtime of the athlete while also reducing the chance for re-injury or perhaps the risk of a more serious injury that will result in surgical intervention or permanent disability.
Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.
Cell is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual. To develop a Cell preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.