Let's be honest. No one enjoys having their blood drawn. But for Carmen Duran Rajraji, a small vial of blood could help heal a debilitating rotator cuff injury.
"I've used physical therapy and massage therapy, chiropractor, cortisone shots," said Rajraji. Nothing seemed to work and Rajraji was exploring a surgical repair when she first heard about Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy
"So we are essentially fooling the body into healing itself by creating a scenario where the body thinks there has been an acute injury," explains Dr. Roger Nichols.
Nichols has treated about 130 patients using Platelet Rich Plasma, which is separated from your blood using a centrifuge. The concentration of platelets is five times greater than whole blood.
Ultrasound imaging is used as a guide to inject the P.R.P. into the target tissue, simulating internal bleeding from a tendon injury. Essentially, the platelets act as a beacon for your body's natural healing agents.
"The body then sends stem sells from the marrow space to the area of chronic injury generating a robust healing response," said Nichols.
"I called it the magic goo to start out with," jokes Dave Driscoll, who suffered from tennis elbow. The injury forced him to quit the game he loves for more than two years. That is, until he took a swing at PRP.
"I couldn't pick up a Coke can without almost dropping it, and six months later I don't have to wear a brace anymore and I play tennis whenever I like," said Driscoll.
He's just one of many success stories.
"With a single PRP injection 90 percent of our patients are cured of their disease," said Nichols.
As for Rajraji, she likes those odds and the fact that she can perform normal activities while healing.
"I'm looking forward to it, getting my arm back," she said, laughing.
Platelet Rich Plasma therapy does not replace surgery when there is a complete tear of a tendon. Costs vary, but at Boulder Community Hospital the treatment runs just over $1,000. It is covered by many insurance plans.
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