Every year in the United States, about 33 million people have musculoskeletal injuries — and roughly half of those involve their tendons or ligaments. Tendon injuries and chronic conditions like tendonitis are often associated with sports and recreational activities, but the fact is, anyone can wind up suffering from an injured tendon. And when a tendon injury does occur, it can take a huge toll on your activity level and your quality of life.
Traditionally, minor tendon injuries have been treated with noninvasive options like ice, rest, and physical therapy, while more severe injuries sometimes have required surgery to correct. Today, though, there’s another option called platelet-rich plasma used for patients with many types of tendon injuries, including tendonitis and other chronic tendon-related conditions. As a top-ranked orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Texas, Dr. Joshua Harris offers the most advanced PRP treatments to optimize each patient’s recovery. If you have a tendon injury, here’s what you should know about PRP therapy.
Your blood comprises many different components, including red and white blood cells, liquid plasma, and tiny structures called platelets, which play a vital role in healing. Platelets contain special proteins called growth factors, and it’s these growth factors that help your tissues repair themselves after they’ve been damaged. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is a blood product made from a small sample of your blood, and it contains much higher concentrations of platelets than “normal” blood — as much as five times as many.
Treatment begins by processing a small sample of your blood to extract the platelets and concentrate them. Then, the PRP obtained from your blood is reinjected into your body at the site of injury. PRP is often used alongside other noninvasive and minimally-invasive treatments, depending on your needs. In patients who require surgery to repair a badly torn tendon, PRP can even be administered at the end of the procedure to speed healing right at the surgical site.
PRP has been used extensively to treat chronic and acute tendon injuries in athletes as well as non-athletes. After injection, the PRP growth factors begin “signaling” cells and chemicals involved in tissue repair, activating natural healing responses near the injection site. PRP can be especially effective in treating chronic injuries related to overuse and “wear and tear,” like golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and tendonitis types.
Because it taps into your body’s natural healing responses, PRP takes a few weeks to work — about the time it takes for your cells to repair and restore themselves. During that time, you can resume most of your regular activities — but you’ll need to avoid strenuous activities, like heavy lifting or running, that can put excess strain on the area that’s being treated. PRP injections can also be repeated if necessary for more stubborn injuries or chronic conditions, like arthritis.
Dr. Harris is skilled in various cutting-edge treatments and therapies, including sports medicine treatments, to ensure each patient gets the most appropriate care for their needs. Before PRP or any treatment is prescribed, Dr. Harris will perform a thorough exam and evaluation to ensure the treatment he recommends is the best one for you. To learn more about PRP therapy and other treatment options for tendon problems, call the office at 713-244-6395 or use our online form to book an appointment today.