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Blood platelet injections can help heal injured tendons

Posted June 16, 2010
Updated June 17, 2010

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— Active people suffering from tennis elbow or jumper's knee might soon to be able to find relief from injections commonly used in other areas of medicine.

Jade Ellis was a star long jumper at Duke University, and he's trying to make a career out of it – except for one painful injury.

"Mid-January, I actually tore my Achilles' tendon while competing in the long jump at UNC," Ellis said.

He went to Dr. David Berkoff with Duke Sports Medicine, who recommended using a method called Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, injections. The method will let Ellis avoid surgery.

Berkoff took 12 cc of Ellis' blood and used a double-barreled syringe to separate out 3 cc of concentrated plasma. He used an ultrasound to direct the syringe's needle and injected the plasma directly into Ellis' injured tendon. Blood injections can help heal tendons Blood injections can help heal tendons

The concentration of platelets in the plasma encourages healing.

Platelets have "a whole host of growth factors that are responsible for the proliferative healing phase of an injury," Berkoff said.

PRP injections have been used to speed up healing in dentistry, cardiac surgery and even arthritis treatments. Its application to tendon injuries is relatively new.

Ellis had his first PRP treatment a month ago. "Between the PRP injection and the ones I did after that, I was able to do a lot more," he said.

After his most recent injection, Ellis will take a few days and slowly build up his workout routine.

"Hopefully, we can get back to a training on a very competitive level in the next couple of months," he said.

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  • cheyenne Jun 18, 2010

    I wonder if this would help a hamstring injury from 2006, although it is yet to be determined if that is exactly what popped. Three renowned groups of orthopedists are yet to pinpoint it and basically have done zero to help me. It's four years later and I'm still on a cane for Pete's sake.

  • drowningdeep Jun 17, 2010

    I had this procedure on my elbow for a severe case of tennis elbow.It's not an immediate fix,but my elbow did get better.

  • Malcontent Jun 16, 2010

    Just mention the word 'injection' to my husband and he get's lightheaded! LOL I'm thinking if the treatment works then do it!