WHAT IS IT? PRP therapy uses a runner’s own blood to stimulate the healing process in a tendon or joint. Doctors draw a small amount of blood from a patient’s arm and spin it in a centrifuge, which isolates platelets and plasma containing healing proteins, says Dr Jonathan Drezner of the University of Washington Sports Medicine Center in the US. The PRP is then injected into the injured area to spur cartilage, tendon and muscle regeneration.
WHAT DOES IT TREAT? It is generally used to treat chronic injuries, including hamstring and Achilles tendon problems. ‘The worse the tendon degeneration is, the better PRP tends to work,’ says Drezner. He suggests trying the traditional protocols first: ice, rest, biomechanical adjustments and physiotherapy. But if those fail, ‘PRP can be life-changing’, he says.
HOW EFFECTIVE? The studies on PRP show mixed results, though a review in the journal Current Pharmaceutical
Biotechnology evaluated the effectiveness of PRP in sports medicine cases and concluded that it may help connective tissue heal when other treatments have failed.
WHO’S HAD IT? Three-time US Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier Michelle Lilienthal reportedly used PRP to treat chronic hamstring pain.
DOES IT HURT? Drezner says that the injection may be uncomfortable, ‘but no one has ever jumped off the table’.
WHO OFFERS IT? Larger sports medicine clinics, such as the London Orthopaedic Clinic.
WHAT’S THE COST? Around £900 to £1,200 (London Orthopaedic Clinic). Lessexpensive treatments may not use ultrasound to place the injection, which, Drezner notes is key for tendon issues. ‘This treatment is about precision, and ultrasound allows us to be precise.’
TREATMENT PLAN? Most runners benefit from a single injection, though some require a second treatment three to six months later.