BEND, Ore. (KFSN) --Most of us don't think about our tendons and ligaments until we tear or damage them. Surgery used to be a common fix, but a non-surgical solution is gaining support among professional athletes and weekend warriors. Here's how your own blood can help heal you.
Whether he's skiing or fishing, Craig Apregan relishes every moment he spends in nature.
Apregan told Ivanhoe, "These trees, these mountains have been here for billions of years and I'm just here for one, small sliver of time. And that's what makes it special."
But the price for that pleasure is a set of worn-out knees.
"I wanted to increase the time or prolong the time in which I needed new knees," explained Apregan.
So he turned to a new approach, platelet rich plasma injection therapy or PRP, where a patient's blood is withdrawn, platelets are separated, concentrated and reinjected into the injured area.
Dr. Ronald Rosen at Open Paths Integrative Medicine in Bend, Oregon told Ivanhoe, "It causes a more potent inflammatory response because the platelets have substances that have helped this response that can build cartilage, heal ligaments and help with muscles too."
This regenerative injection therapy, growing in popularity with professional athletes, isn't a one-shot fix. Depending on the severity as many as six series of injections might be required, spaced about a month apart.
"This is a regeneration process and it takes time for the body to regenerate," explained Rosen.
"Knees got better," Apregan told Ivanhoe. "They don't swell as much. I was able to ski long, ski hard, ski in the back country. It's been absolutely wonderful."
Besides being both much less invasive and expensive than surgery, PRP therapy heals tissue with minimal or no scarring and, unlike pain-relieving cortisone injections, does not cause any further degeneration of injured tissues or joints.