Lynn Surprenant of Greenwich is an athletic 51-year-old mother of two,
who has enjoyed sailing, skiing, golf and other sports over the course of her life. Two years ago she developed painful tendinitis in her left elbow. It got better after resting it over the winter and then reoccurred after she went kayaking during a winter vacation. Her elbow became so painful that even picking up a glass of water was excruciating.
The following June, Dr. Seth Miller gave her a cortisone injection into the joint which brought her initial relief. Unfortunately, the benefit wore off after about eight weeks. When she returned to Dr. Miller, he suggested she try a new treatment option called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). Although not FDA approved, the treatment is increasingly being used by orthopedic surgeons and physiatrists to treat soft tissue problems such as tennis elbow, hamstring strains, MCL strains and patellar tendonitis.
At ONS, PRP is administered by physiatrist Dr. Jeffery Heftler, who explained the procedure, “First, 10 milliliters of blood was drawn from Lynn’s arm and then spun in a centrifuge for five minutes. This separates out the platelets from the rest of the blood. Then two to four milliliters of the separated blood is drawn out and injected it back into the injury site.” The theory behind the treatment is the platelets release growth factors which stimulate a healing response. Unlike a steroid injection, it can take up to six weeks to notice the full benefit of the injection. However, PRP seems to be effective in cases where steroids have failed.
Lynn was instructed not to use her arm for anything strenuous for two weeks but by the third week, she could tell it was feeling better. She started physical therapy to help get back the strength in her arm and by three months she was entirely pain free.
Ms. Surprenant says, “I am a big fan of PRP. I am now free of pain and back to doing all my normal activities.”
The ONS Foundation for Clinical Research and Education plans to initiate a study on the effectiveness of PRP for treatment of various soft tissue problems in 2010.