Five months ago I was diagnosed with a partial tear in my triangular fibrocartilage (TFCC). Unfortunately it’s in my dominant wrist and has halted my climbing, writing, and other weight-bearing activities for the past 9 months.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment:
PRP is an active yet more conservative approach to treating tendon or cartilage that would’ve traditionally required surgery or steroid injections. My sports doctor had originally referred me for a surgical procedure expected to result in a month of rehab but full results. However, the consulting surgeon anticipated a painful three months of rehab in a cast.
Instead, he suggested I give PRP a go. Should the process work, I should regain most functionality of my wrist. However, unlike the more positive predictions of my doctors, he did warn that neither PRP nor surgery guarantee I will be able to climb hard again.
I will be hooked up to a centrifuge that will filter blood from my arm into its main components. This process can take around 40 minutes. Then, they will extract and prepare a sample of the platelet-rich portion of my blood and inject it into my TFCC in hopes to stimulate its healing and regrowth.
When they’re injecting the plasma back into my wrist, the doctors may have to use an ultrasound to make sure they are injecting it at exactly the right spot inside my joint capsule.
Benefits of PRP:
Because it is your own cell that they are injecting back into you, the chances of infection or rejection are way lower. The platelet-rich injections provide massively increased growth factors to the affected area to promote healing.
PRP is not a highly researched treatment, however it is far less invasive than most surgical options. It’s often used for chronic knee and elbow injuries.
Will it hurt and how long will it take to heal?
I’m not sure yet if the blood withdrawal and re-injection processes will hurt. I’m assuming the PRP shot into my wrist may hurt a fair amount, since it must be injected deep into the site of the injury.
My consulting surgeon said that I’ll likely have to get a couple PRP treatments before I see healing and results. He warned me that my wrist will likely be quite sore for a couple weeks after each shot, as my body adapts.
**Update (Feb 2017): The injection was quite painful but after about a week my wrist was back to its current state. Read my current wrist update here.
If PRP treatment does work, I should be able to avoid having surgery done on my wrist. However, going for this option does mean I could waste a few more months with limited to no results. However, my surgeon was confident that, for my case, this was the best step to take. In the meantime, he fitted me for a wrist brace that is made specially for TFCC pain. So far it is really tight and uncomfortable but it may help me stay active at my job and be able to write at school.
For now, I’m forced to continue waiting to climb. My first PRP injection is scheduled for mid-December, so I’ll have more updates then!
OrthoInfo article: Kelly, Frank, MD. “Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP).” Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)-OrthoInfo – AAOS. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Sept. 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
Process of PRP Therapy. Digital image. Stem Cell Orthopaedic. The Institute of Regenerative & Molecular Orthopaedics, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
Wilson, John, MD. Knee Injection. Digital image. Arthritis-health. Veritashealth, 1 July 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.