Non-Surgical Procedures for Ligament and Tendon Injuries

PRP for Ligaments and Tendons

When tendons and ligaments are damaged as a result of injury or overuse, small injuries or tears may develop as part of a condition known as tendinopathy. Tendinopathy is a general term used to describe a spectrum of tendon diseases from inflammation to complete rupture.  Although these tissues are strong and help us engage in all kinds of physical activity when they are healthy, they do not heal well when damaged by a sprain or by overuse, as they commonly have a poor blood supply.

Certain elements within the blood  help tendons and ligaments heal by stimulating a repair and growth response that accelerates the process of developing of new tissue. Unfortunately, the tendons and ligaments do not receive a rich supply of these valuable nutrients, which is why they often take a long time to heal and can cause patients severe pain within the joints of the lower extremities and other parts of the body.

What is platelet-rich plasma?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is plasma with a high concentration of platelets, which contains a large amount of proteins. These proteins can initiate and accelerate new tissue growth within the tendons and ligaments to repair damage and relieve symptoms for patients with tendinopathy or other causes of chronic pain.

Injecting platelet-rich plasma into damaged tissue is an effective yet minimally invasive treatment option used to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by this chronic injury. By enhancing the body’s natural healing abilities, patients are able to enjoy a faster and more thorough healing process that relieves symptoms and allows them to return to their regular activities.

What is platelet-rich plasma used for?

Platelet-rich plasma injections can be used to treat a wide range of Foot & Ankle conditions, including:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Arthritis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Joint pain
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Shin splints
  • Achilles tendonitis

How does this procedure work?

During the PRP injection procedure, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient and placed in a processing unit to separate the platelets, white blood cells and serum from the red blood cells. The platelets and white blood cells are then placed in a centrifuge and concentrated and loaded into a sterile syringe. Some of the patient’s blood is used as an activator and injected with the PRP into the targeted tissue to stimulate the healing process.

This procedure is performed under local anesthetic, which numbs the injection site to minimize pain for patients. Most patients tolerate the injection well and experience little to no discomfort from the injection.

Most patients require one to three PRP injections in order to achieve the desired results from this procedure.  Your Doctor will evaluate your condition a few weeks after the initial treatment to determine whether or not additional injections are needed. This treatment is commonly combined with exercise or physical therapy in patients with acute injuries.

What can patients expect after the PRP procedure?

After platelet-rich plasma injections, patients may experience soreness and aching for several days, which is a sign that the healing process has begun. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are discouraged for first few weeks to avoid interference with the healing process. After this initial time they may be taken if needed to help alleviate these symptoms. Patients can return to work and other normal activities immediately after treatment, but should refrain from heavy lifting and strenuous activity. Commonly patients are placed in a fracture boot to rest the injured extremity.

What are the benefits of this procedure?

For many patients, platelet-rich plasma injections offer significant relief from pain and other symptoms, and eliminate the need for surgery or long-term medications. This treatment also promotes the healing process and allows patients to return to their normal activities faster than with other nonsurgical treatments.

Are platelet-rich injections safe?

Since the PRP is produced from the patient’s own blood, there is very little risk for complications with this procedure. There is always a risk of infection with any type of injection, but most patients undergo this procedure with no problems.

Your doctor can help you figure out if this procedure is right for you. If you are interested in learning more about platelet-rich plasma injections, please call us today to schedule an appointment.