The Sherdog MMA website published a fascinating article in mid-June detailing the benefits of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for mixed martial arts athletes. The article has a lot to say about why MMA fighters are getting on board with PRP. Doctors specializing in sports medicine would do well to pay attention to what these athletes are saying.
For the record, MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It encompasses a full range of mixed martial arts offered in a variety of settings. The one thing all MMA sports have in common is injury. Among all the mainstream sports of the 21st century, few result in the kinds of injuries seen in MMA.
It would seem logical that PRP therapy would be popular in a sport so prone to physical contact. But MMA uptake of PRP therapy has been somewhat slow. The good news is that athletes are starting to take a second look at PRP therapy. They have seen how it has helped baseball players, football players, runners, and tennis players.
Training Is Critical in MMA
One of the things that stood out in the Sherdog article is the importance of training for MMA fighters. These athletes cannot afford to take even a single day off or they jeopardize their own well-being in the ring. If an MMA fighter is not training, he or she is either too injured to continue or planning to retire.
The need for incessant training means athletes cannot afford to take prolonged periods of time off due to injury. The faster healing takes place, the faster an injured athlete is back in the training room. The need for faster healing is one of the things driving MMA athletes to PRP therapy.
One particular fighter profiled by Sherdog injured himself during a training session in the lead up to a much-hyped UFC fight. This athlete ruptured his MCL severely enough that it looked like he wouldn’t be able to compete. Had he dropped out, he would have lost nearly $70,000 in earnings.
According to Sherdog, the fighter received PRP therapy on the affected knee, waited the prescribed 72 hours, and then resumed training. He eventually completed his training and went on to fight as scheduled. He insisted that without PRP he never would have finished training, let alone actually competed.
How PRP Helps MMA Fighters
The science behind how PRP helps MMA fighters is the same science other athletes benefit from, according to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. PRP therapy is rooted in the knowledge that blood platelets contain cytokines and other growth factors critical to tissue repair.
A proper treatment begins by drawing blood from the patient. The blood is spun in a centrifuge and processed to separate out concentrate platelets. A good concentration can be up to 10 times more platelet-rich than unprocessed blood. The resulting material is injected into the injury site where it signals the body to begin the healing process.
For MMA athletes, PRP treatments are all about getting back to training. More than any other kind of athlete, the MMA fighter cannot afford to not be training on a regular schedule.
So, what about your patients? You might not be treating world-class athletes looking to recover from injuries. But the average person on the street might also be looking for some relief from a sports related injury. The average osteoarthritis patient has tried everything else offered to him/her. Maybe PRP therapy would finally offer the pain relief he/she’s been looking for.