man playing baseball

A pro athlete suffering from tendinitis or a similar nagging injury goes to the doctor looking for a solution. With millions of dollars on the line, the athlete demands something between the extremes of invasive surgery and the boring old standby of RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation.

More and more often, sports medicine’s answer is platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP, the procedure in which a doctor withdraws about 50 cubic centimeters of a patient’s blood, spins it in a centrifuge to isolate the platelets, and injects them directly into the injured area, where they promote the body’s natural healing response.

In the past, PRP was banned entirely by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and it is currently off limits if the injection is aimed at a muscle (rather than a joint or tendon). But as of Jan. 1, the procedure will be entirely legal – and hugely popular among top athletes.

Julie Masse, a WADA spokeswoman, said the anti-doping agency eased restrictions on PRP because there is no evidence that the procedure enhances performance.

“Current studies on platelet-derived preparations do not demonstrate potential for performance enhancement beyond a potential therapeutic effect,” Masse said. “WADA will, however, continue to closely monitor developments of these preparations.”

BY Michael O’Keeffe, Christian Red and Nathaniel Vinton
Sunday, September 26th 2010, 4:00 AM

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