The Knee's the Thing: Focus on the Meniscus

American Athlete Magazine—January 13, 2012

One factor that may prevent future re-tears in the meniscus and possibly even side-step surgery is the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP).  Having gained buzz in the sports world over the past few years (Tiger Woods and Phillies’ pitcher Cliff Lee have used PRP to deal with a sore knee and abs, respectively), PRP is the process of centrifuging (spinning) a person’s own blood until it contains a concentrated mix of plasma cells and growth factors. That end product is then injected into the injured tissue. This, doctors say, speeds healing, improves tissue health, and rapidly creates new collagen and blood vessels—although, so far, studies on humans have failed to prove as much.

Dr. Answorth Allen, MD, an associate attending orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, NY, and a team physician for the New York Knicks, says PRP is especially beneficial for healing meniscal tissue, which naturally has a low blood supply. Because of its success as both a first line treatment for a tear as well as a way to augment meniscal repairs, Allen uses it routinely.

“PRP has made a large difference in meniscal repairs, encouraging healing in an area that only has about a twenty-five percent vascular supply,” says Allen. “There’s no science to prove it yet, but I’ve been impressed with the results. And as time and technology advance, we’ll see more and more ways to approach tears. So even if the rates of these injuries continue to climb, they’ll become that much easier to treat.”


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