Today’s elite athletes push their bodies to the very limit of performance. Sometimes, that limit is surpassed, resulting in bodily stress of injury. In the quest to get athletes back onto the playing field as quickly as possible, sports medicine experts have developed a number of innovative new treatments that promise a revolution in how sports injuries are treated.

For professional athletes especially, it’s important that they recover from injuries as quickly as possible (without risking a worse injury). Invasive surgeries frequently lead to long, painful recoveries. The goal of sports medicine today is to find alternative treatments. That’s where PRP therapy and stem cell therapy come into play.

PRP stands for platelet rich plasma. Platelet rich plasma therapy is quick, easy and painless. It begins with an extraction of blood from the patient. This blood is then separated into its various components. The blood plasma is full of essential reparative elements: platelets and proteins. This high-potency plasma is then re-injected at the site of injury. Because PRP therapy uses the body’s own repair system, there is little risk of side effects. It’s a far safer proposition than steroidal medicines or surgery.

Stem cell therapy is similar to PRP therapy, except instead of blood plasma the doctor injects a solution derived from bone marrow and or fat tissue. But the principle is the same. The injections accelerate the body’s normal processes of tissue repair. Platelets and stem cells send out specific chemical messages, alerting the body of trouble and sending in reinforcements to speed the healing process.

Both stem cell treatment and PRP injections are much cheaper than surgical interventions. They’re also an outpatient procedure. That means patients won’t have to spend days or weeks recuperating in a hospital bed. No surgery also means no scar tissue and no hidden, long-term ill effects.

One of the biggest advantages of these new techniques is that they are, technically speaking, all natural. Instead of manufactured, chemical drugs, PRP and stem cells are part of the body’s own repair process. Steroids, NSAID pain relievers, and other painkillers all carry the risk of side effects. At the end of the day, no drug is as effective as the body’s own resources for healing and recovery.

Athletes naturally worry about chronic injuries – problems with joints and muscles that never seem to go away. These innovative therapies, however, offer realistic hope of long-term freedom from pain. Less pain means better performance out on the track.

It’s important to realize that neither PRP therapy nor stem cell therapy will not  result in overnight cures. Instead, they simply speed up the natural healing process.  This is the same process that the body uses to deal with injuries or recovers after surgery.  In most cases, multiple injections will be necessary.  However, the low risk and possibly high reward of these treatment options should put them high on every athlete’s list.