Maximize Healing with PRP

A patient getting an injection.

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It’s the spirit of the athlete, a drive to test our physical limits and then to push just a little harder to discover our body’s maximum potential. We self-identify as gritty, focused, disciplined and resilient. No matter the level of sport at which we compete, or if we are combating the effects of age, a desk job or indulging in the best of Charleston’s rich dining culture, those of us who buffet our bodies like prizefighters will likely, at some point, push it too far.

At Winning Health, Dr. Andrew McMarlin and Dr. Jana Upshaw make it their mission to restore and optimize their patients’ physical health and athletic potential. Winning Health offers sport-specific training programs, injury prevention and treatment, surgical intervention and customized therapy. One service Dr. McMarlin offers is platelet-rich plasma injections, which harnesses the body’s own restorative power to heal itself by extracting platelets from the patient’s blood and injecting them into diseased tissue. Unlike stem cell treatment that is derived from amniotic tissue, PRP injections recruit your own stem cells to the targeted area in order to jump-start and accelerate the healing process. While some facilities advertise “stem cell” injections, according to Dr. Upshaw, “they are actually injecting dead, sterile cells” and charge premium out-of-pocket fees.

As a former Olympian and lifelong athlete, Dr. McMarlin is no stranger to injury and attests to the effectiveness of the treatment. Because the body does not reject its own platelets, side effects are minimal, and many patients are less dependent on opioids or other forms of pain management.

PRP injections maximize the healing process, but Dr. McMarlin cautioned that “it is really important that patients do the guided physical therapy in conjunction with the treatment to get the maximum effect.”

Because of its effectiveness, more athletes are seeking PRP injections, and the treatment is becoming more widely available. According to Dr. McMarlin, it is crucial that patients receive the right kind of PRP for their condition. For soft tissue injuries such as tendinopathy or acute phase hamstring and quad tears, patients require pro-inflammatory – or leukocyte-rich – PRP. By increasing inflammation, a gelatinous clot is set up in the tendon or muscle and stem cells are recruited from the bloodstream into the pathway of the injured muscle or fiber. Contrastingly, anti-inflammatory – or leukocyte-poor – PRP is effective when treating injuries inside the joint, such as arthritis.

“Many places will offer generic treatment but may not be aware of what formulation the patient requires. If they are not careful, the treatment might be counterproductive and worsen the injury,” Dr. McMarlin explained.

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Using ultrasound guidance, Dr. McMarlin is able to localize exactly where the PRP is needed for optimal results. While pro-inflammatory PRP injections can heal scar tissue and prevent chronic injury, Dr. McMarlin stated that he sees an even stronger interest in joint treatment.

“LP-PRP helps with pain and function of joints more than steroids and cartilage gel, and evidence shows that patients will get better pain control and better function than they would with other types of injections,” he said.

Its ability to improve a patient’s quality of life makes PRP treatment a worthwhile investment, and Dr. McMarlin’s expertise ensures that his patients receive the proper formation and additional therapy that maximize its effectiveness. As those pursuing a healthy, productive lifestyle, we seek to realize our body’s full potential. By exploiting the body’s own ability to heal itself, PRP injection therapy does just that.

For more information on Winning Health, visit www.winninghealth.md.

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