Like Tiger Woods, You Could Have PRP Treatments for Bad Knees

Tiger Woods tees off on the first tee during round one of the US Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California on June 12, 2008. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Tiger Woods tees off on the first tee during round one of the US Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California on June 12, 2008. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) /

Ever wanted to be like Tiger Woods? Now you can.

If you’re a Tiger Woods follower, you know that Woods has had knee problems for a long time.  In 2008, he had reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

As he described it at the 2010 Masters: “As you all know, 2008 I blew out my ACL and part of my reconstruction with my LCL, it wasn’t reacting properly, it was a little bit stuck.”

That’s when he first had PRP, as far as we know.

It was also about that time when Dr. Anthony Galea, the doctor who treated Woods with PRP, was in the news for rumored prescribing of performance enhancing drugs. There was a cloud of suspicion around it all, and it seemed, from the reporting, that the term blood spinning and PRP was something that bordered on illegal. But that’s not the case.  I know because I just had PRP treatments on both of my knees and nobody got arrested.

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Woods obviously knew that and, later on, also used PRP to help repair his Achilles tendon.

“I tore my Achilles in my right leg. I then had PRP injections throughout the year,” he explained in the same news conference. “It does help you heal faster and (I) did everything I possibly could to heal faster so I could (get back) on the golf course going through the PRP injections.”

Woods is not the only high-profile athlete to have the treatment.

Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets have also had the therapy.  Scott McCarron has also had them for his elbow.

And I’m not going to say that Ozzie Smith had it done, but there’s a medical center specializing in PRP that has his name on it.  Draw your own conclusions.

In an interview done 10 years ago, Dennis A. Cardone, DO, and specialist in sports medicine at the NYU Langone Health, said he had treated more than 30 athletes with PRP.

So, while PRP had some negative connotations because of association with what some athletes were doing called blood doping, it is not the same thing according to the U.S. Center for Sports Medicine in St. Louis.

PRP treatments were also confused with problems associated with athletes taking HGH, and PRP somehow got confused with HGH, human growth hormone, banned by the Olympic committee in 1989.  It is not HGH.

What happens with PRP, at least the treatment I had, was that blood was drawn from my arm.  No big deal.  I waited about 15 or 20 minutes while they put it in a centrifuge where the various components of the blood separate into layers.  They took out the best stuff and put it into a giant-sized syringe for injections. And they injected it into the sides of my knees, which have torn menisci – whatever the plural or meniscus is—and arthritis.

However, in addition to PRP, my specialists also injected something called hyaluronic acid.  To do this, they use one needle and change out the back end of the syringe where the stuff is and keep pumping.   Then they change needles and containers and do the other knee.  Honestly, I mostly didn’t watch because i was trying not to shriek.  But I know they started with one substance and then switched and followed with the other. The hyaluronic acid is like part of what is in rooster comb, but i doubt it will cause me to rise at dawn and give out a cock-a-doodle-do.

To say it felt odd and caused a minor amount of pain, it not an overstatement. But it was not long lasting and not horrible.  All they used for painkiller was cold spray. Mostly it felt like somebody had filled up my knee area with some new stuff that maybe my knee wasn’t going to like. But as soon as the injecting stopped, there really wasn’t what you could call pain.

After the injections, my knees were stiff.  I had both done at the same time. Intelligently, I brought along a cane, just in case I needed it for stability.  Turned out to be a good idea, actually.  But I drove myself home.

The hardest part, I thought, would be that I couldn’t take anti-inflammatories before the treatment, and I can’t take them for four weeks after the last treatment, which is coming up. In addition, they recommend no serious working out for three to five days at least after a treatment. And only moderate workouts for the first couple of weeks afterward. Supposedly they continue to improve for several months.

What turned out to be the hardest part is the first 30 or so hours after it.  I didn’t work out before the treatment because I knew I couldn’t take any anti-inflammatories beforehand and I knew long walks would give my knees pain. So, like half of America, I became quite the couch potato. Luckily, I like Downton Abbey and our PBS stations were doing reruns. Then there were the news conferences on COVID which everybody watched.

After the injections, I was allowed to take Tylenol arthritis pain pills and put quite a dent in a couple bottles of those.  But two days after the second treatment, shockingly, I’ve had no pain in my knees.  It feels like there are little balloons inside my knees, almost making them springy.

I’ve been swimming twice for about 45 minutes, which is about half my pre-COVID shutdown workout time. In the next few weeks, I’ll add to that, and expect it will take until sometime in June to get back to full distances.

I haven’t gone for walks longer than to Publix grocery store, Home Depot and Target.

So, if you have bad knees, and if your insurance covers it or if you can afford it, be like Tiger and get PRP. The platelets and whatnot in the plasma are supposed to promote healing, and the inflammation you get after the shots is supposed to actually accelerate the healing.

With everything being closed down for COVID19, it seemed like a perfect time to be out of commission since everything else was out of commission anyway.  I’m not going to get on a trampoline any time soon, but I feel like this has been a great treatment for me.