Carol Ellis, a patient at Center for Spine and Orthopedics came in after saddling horses and lifting bags of grain took a toll on her shoulders. After previously having rotator-cuff surgery, She decided she did not want surgery again, but instead plasma-rich platelet therapy. Read her story below to find out more about her experience.
Throwing hay, saddling horses and lifting 50-pound bags of grain takes a toll on Carol Ellis’s shoulders. Having had surgery for a severe rotator cuff tear more than 15 years ago, her shoulder had not hurt since until just a few years ago. When it started hurting, Ellis decided that she did not want to have surgery again. Instead, she was interested in trying plasma-rich platelet (PRP) therapy.
As a horsewoman, Ellis was very familiar with PRP. She had been using PRP injections on her horses for years with tremendous success. She discussed it with her physiatrist, Dr. George Leimbach, at the Center for Spine and Orthopedics. Dr. Leimbach was skeptical. “He told me that he wasn’t sure it would work,” Ellis recalls. “I thought it would, but I respect that he likes to think things through.”
Dr. Leimbach agreed to perform Ellis’ PRP injection. First, her blood was drawn and centrifuged to concentrate the platelets. Then, Dr. Leimbach injected them back into Ellis’ shoulder.
“The injection hurt like heck, but it relieved my shoulder pain,” says Ellis. “I can throw hay again about 15 feet and no longer have any problem lifting 50-pound bales of hay.”
Though a relatively new treatment for a variety of musculoskeletal injuries, PRP is gaining acceptance for treating tendon, ligament and joint injuries. Unlike traditional anti-inflammatory medications that merely mask symptoms, PRP offers the chance for real healing.
“When a tear or cut in the tissue occurs, the platelets work to create a scaffold, bringing those tissues back together and producing collagen and scar tissue to heal the torn tissue,“ says Dr. Leimbach. “The platelets also release growth factors and anti-inflammatory medications to help induce healing.”
Research about PRP’s effectiveness shows a wide variety of findings, and research is ongoing. One of the keys to successful treatment with PRP appears to be the exact placement of the injection. With 30 years of experience each, Dr. Leimbach and Dr. Paul Leo administer PRP very precisely, using image guidance with ultrasound, or in the case of disc pain, with fluoroscopy to ensure that the PRP gets to the exact site of injury.
PRP is particularly recommended as an option when traditional treatment options have failed or are otherwise not indicated.