Plasma therapy can aid in healing injuries

Associated Press/The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch—September 30, 2012

Lou Flocken can rest easy now, something he hasn’t been able to do for nearly a decade.

Flocken, 56, has tendonitis in his right elbow, which caused pain after rounds of golf, while exercising or while working on weekend projects such as hammering.

He could feel discomfort just sitting at his desk at work, in the administration office at Ohio State University Hospital East.

Flocken had tried a number of treatments over the past eight years, including large doses of ibuprofen and physical therapy, to ease the pain. Nothing worked.

Then his doctor brought up a study of platelet-rich plasma therapy, which involves injecting the patient’s own white blood cells and platelets into the injured tissue.

He received a single injection in March.“Before the procedure, it hurt all the time,” Flocken said. “Now it only hurts if I’m really active or doing a lot of repetitive motion. “It gets better right away, though, and I don’t notice it in my day-to-day life.”

Although it has been used for decades among some physicians, the treatment’s recent popularity can be attributed largely to the success stories of improved healing from professional athletes.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy is most successful treating degeneration and tears in knee, ankle and elbow ligaments and tendons, doctors say.

However, Dr. Scott Rodeo, co-chief of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, said no one can predict whether the procedure will prove beneficial in any patient.

A patient’s history, the type of tear and the age of the injury are factors that need to be examined, said Rodeo, who serves as the associate team physician for the New York Giants.

“Even if the preparation and formulation of the platelets and cells were perfect, which they’re not, there is tremendous variability in the biology of the patient and the thing we’re trying to treat,” he said.

Despite the many questions, some doctors say the therapy will play a major role in orthopedics.

Six months after his injection, Flocken said he can play golf with only minor discomfort.

Read the full story at dispatch.com.

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