Surgery free treatment for injured joints being tested - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/22/09

Surgery free treatment for injured joints being tested

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We probably all know somebody who has had a knee injury, from professional athletes to weekend warriors.  Now, a promising new therapy could help joints heal without surgery.  It's called PRP, which stands for platelet rich plasma.  First, blood is drawn and goes into a centrifuge.  The high speed spinning process helps separate blood components.  Plasma with concentrated platelets is then injected into the patient at the injured site.

Dr. Alan Lazar, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, says, "They [PRP's] can help grow ligaments and tendons and help heal joints and up until now we thought platelets, really all they did was stop bleeding. But what they really are, they're the initiator of healing in the body.  The first 10 days are a little more painful, the platelets are a little irritating and then with a month or six weeks, you see a major effect."

There are about 50 patients experimenting with this new therapy.  It is considered an alternative therapy, so, Medicare and most insurance companies will not cover the costs of PRP, which runs about $500 per injection.  It could take up to 6 of those injections.  For some people, though, it's worth it, because the shots should promote healing and allow the patient to avoid surgery.  However, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says, "PRP may be valuable in enhancing soft-tissue repair and wound healing... but, in bone repair, it remains controversial."

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