You may not play golf or baseball like a pro, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the same revolutionary therapies star athletes use to rehabilitate. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy can repair damaged and aching joints as well as damaged, torn or inflamed muscles and tendons.
“It’s one of the new and exciting treatment options for different musculoskeletal conditions that has come out,” Nathan Gasque, MD, a Bon Secours sports medicine physician (pictured above, right), says about PRP therapy. “A lot of the treatment options we have for different musculoskeletal conditions are just like putting a bandage on the injury. They’re just for helping out with symptoms, prolonging therapy and sometimes a patient ends up getting surgery anyway. We don’t have many options that help give your body time to heal, but PRP therapy is one of those options.”
This unique therapy relies on the healing power of your own blood. After a quick blood draw, a centrifuge is used to separate the blood into its various components – platelets, white cells, red cells and plasma. The provider then uses a certain percentage of each component to maximize the amount of growth factors and other elements that can trigger cell reproduction and tissue regeneration. Because you’re using your own body’s blood, the therapy is low-risk and doesn’t usually have any major side effects.
“If you have a patient who is either very against surgery or not a candidate for surgery and they’ve tried a lot of the basic types of therapies – from conservative management to steroid injections – and they’re really just not getting anywhere with it, PRP has really done a lot for those patients,” Dr. Gasque says.
Lachlan McLean (pictured above, left) can attest to PRP therapy. During his second year as a striker with the Greenville Triumph, the athlete was benched due to knee pain. Looking for an alternative to surgery, he ended up at Bon Secours.
“I’d never heard about PRP before, but Dr. Gasque and Dr. Scott Watson both very thoroughly believed it was going to be a successful procedure for me, which evidently, it was,” Lachlan recalls. “The difference you feel in joint mobility, smoothness of movement and just overall pain relief even after one treatment – honestly, I can’t even put it into words.”
Lachlan ended up receiving two PRP injections and was back out on the field within three weeks’ time.
“As soon as I had this treatment done, the back end of my season was quite injury-free,” he shares. “I was also able to finish the season strong and help us in the push for the playoffs.”
But this isn’t just a solution for professional athletes. Research shows PRP therapy can have big benefits for people suffering from osteoarthritis as well as muscle and tendon issues. It is also not just new problems that pop up, but also the ones that stick around for months or even years without responding to other types of therapy.
“I have a patient who has been dealing with shoulder pain for years and years,” Dr. Gasque shares. “They had been seen by different surgeons, tried different therapies, went to physical therapy and really just couldn’t get over the hump. They then received an injection and within several weeks they had less pain than they’ve had in years. They are back in the gym and doing very, very well. So, both acute and chronic conditions – I’ve seen a lot of success stories.”
Despite being a cutting-edge and revolutionary therapy, it’s simple to perform during your normal doctor’s visit.
“You come in and 40 minutes later you’re able to leave on your own,” Dr. Gasque says. “And you really shouldn’t have many issues.”
For anyone interested in PRP, Dr. Gasque recommends talking to your primary care provider first. This is because this therapy is fairly new. You may even want to seek out a sports medicine physician or an orthopedist.
Regardless of where you start, Lachlan says he’s proof it never hurts to start asking questions.
“There are some incredible people that work in the health care system that are very knowledgeable, as Dr. Gasque was,” he shares. “I asked him probably too many questions – I’m sure he got sick of the amount of questions I asked him – but he was able to answer everything. He gave me the peace of mind when it came to the treatment, and in the end, it’s paid dividends for me because I’m feeling great. I’m feeling back to myself, and that’s all you can really ask for. If you wake up and feel yourself every day, you can’t complain.”
Learn more about the orthopedics and sports medicine services we offer at Bon Secours.