Platelet-rich plasma therapy turns patient's blood into healing agent
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Monday, January 31, 2011
1/31/11 at 5:42 AM
Tulsa has seen a surge of people being treated for muscle and joint injuries with a relatively new therapy made popular by profess-ional athletes.
The procedure involves drawing blood from a patient and putting that blood through a special centrifuge that separates the plasma. That concentrated substance is then injected back into the patient at the site of the injury.
It can be used to treat arthritis, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, tendon injuries and muscle tears.
The procedure, known as platelet-rich plasma therapy, is done in an outpatient setting and is minimally invasive. One treatment takes about an hour, said Tony Jabbour, a doctor at Tulsa Bone and Joint Associates.
The platelets contain tissue growth factors that stimulate the healing process, he said.
"We're just enhancing the own body's way of healing things," he said.
Jabbour had the procedure performed on his arthritic knees, and he is happy with the result, he said.
The doctors at Tulsa Bone and Joint use an ultrasound to guide the needle while injecting the blood back into a patient. The ultrasound allows the doctors to see joint movement in real time and pinpoint exactly where to make the injection.
"If you get it just in the right place, it is painless," Jabbour said.
PRP therapy is still being studied for its effectiveness. Some results have shown little improvement.
A study published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that patients with an Achilles tendon injury were no better after a year of PRP treatment than those who received a placebo saline solution.
Still, athletes such as Tiger Woods, Hines Ward and Takashi Saito have said PRP helped them dramatically and enabled them to return to their sports - golf, football and baseball, respectively.
Jimmy Huebert, who also practices at Tulsa Bone and Joint, said PRP therapy should only be used after other options have been exhausted and surgery is the only remaining alternative.
"It's something that is a nice tool that we have to repair and maybe heal some muscular/skeletal injuries that might have needed surgery," he said.
The process worked for Nancy Wallace of Tulsa, who had a ski accident about 30 years ago that resulted in osteoarthritis in her left knee.
She received PRP therapy in April and was feeling remarkable better within 48 hours, she said.
"It was like he (the doctor) gave me a bionic knee," she said. "I had the most wonderful summer of bike riding."
Wallace, 64, rides about 150 to 200 miles a week during summer. She received another injection in November and has continued to ride every week, she said.
"Nothing has ever worked like this," she said.
In addition to three doctors at Tulsa Bone and Joint, at least one sports medicine physician in the Tulsa area uses ultrasound-guided PRP and has reported some success with patients.
"You get mixed responses," said Troy Glaser with Central State Orthopedic Specialists. He administers the therapy from offices in Bixby and Tulsa.
Keith Stanley of Tulsa Bone and Joint said PRP therapy can also be appealing because it doesn't involve putting foreign chemicals in the body.
"This is as natural as it gets, because we're using their own blood," he said.
Original Print Headline: New treatment turns blood into healing agent
Shannon Muchmore 581-8378
Nancy Wallace can continue to ride her bicycle every week because of platelet-rich plasma therapy, which has relieved pain in her arthritic knee. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World