Blood Therapy for Joint Injuries


Thirty years of pounding has taken a toll on John Spezzano's arms. This martial arts instructor has a bad case of tennis elbow.

"Probably a good two to three months that I couldn't open a door -- a door knob like this -- because it hurt so bad," Spezzano told Ivanhoe.

He couldn't find a treatment to ease the pain caused by the muscle and tendon tears, so Spezzano turned to Dr. Steven Sampson and an experimental treatment that uses his own blood to repair his injuries.

During the 45-minute procedure, doctors draw blood from Spezzano's arm. A filtration machine spins the blood separating red blood cells from platelets -- the part of the blood that stimulates healing.

This high concentration of platelets -- up to 23 times that of normal blood -- is injected into the injury, triggering the healing process.

"They branch out like sea sponges, and they expand and release growth factor, and they coordinate repair and regenerate new tissue," Steven Sampson, D.O., physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Orthohealing Center in Los Angeles, Calif., told Ivanhoe.

Studies show it reduced pain for 81 percent of patients with tennis elbow after six months. Ninety-three percent reported a reduction in pain up to three years later.

Runner Hersel Mikaelain is having a second knee treated.

"It eliminates the pain without the use of surgery," Mikaelain told Ivanhoe.

It may take months and several injections to see results.

"I'm hoping that it's 100 percent healed," Spezzano said. "I mean, it would be great if I could do everything that I do without pain."

He says the price -- $1,500 per injection -- is worth it if it keeps him in the ring.

PRP therapy is considered experimental, so it's not covered by insurance. Dr. Sampson is also using the platelet therapy for patients with knee osteoarthritis. He reports 62 percent of patients were satisfied with their pain reduction after one year.

Dr. Steven Sampson
Orthohealing Center
Los Angeles, CA

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.