PRP Injection Helps Runner Reach Boston Marathon
Running comes naturally to Jennifer Elton. Two years ago, she ran her first marathon so fast that she qualified for the Boston Marathon. But like many distance runners, she developed an injury that threatened to take her out of the race. For Jennifer, it was a foot issue. She describes the pain like running on a rock in your shoe. And it got worse and worse as the Boston Marathon approached. Six weeks before the race, she was off the road, training only in the deep end of the pool to protect her foot. That’s when Michelle Murphy of Murphy Family & Wellness Integrated Pain Management in Puyallup, WA sent Jennifer to the RAYUS Radiology for help.
PRP for Long Distance Runners
Her course of treatment included a Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection (PRP) at RAYUS in Federal Way, WA. Murphy, a Nurse Practitioner, works with a lot of injured athletes and says the procedure is simple, low risk, and can really make a difference in the healing process. It involves an injection or a series injections — in Jennifer’s case, right into that painful spot in her foot. Jennifer is hopeful the PRP will help:
“They take your blood and they spin it and then it separates it and the clear stuff on top has all that plasma in it that will help heal it. And so they inject that into the area and then it helps heal it a lot quicker.”
The procedure is used for anyone from professional athletes to weekend warriors who have tendon or ligament issues. For more details on the how it works and how much it costs, click here. Dr. Ranjeet Singh, one of RAYUS’s Musculoskeletal Radiologists, says:
“The injections aren’t the only part of the treatment but they’re part of the overall treatment strategy to get that athlete rehabilitated to a level where they can compete again.”
RAYUS’s track record with helping athletes is one of the reasons Murphy continues to send her patients in for PRPs. “The radiologists I work the most closely with within RAYUS take the time with the patients to actually do consults and you do not get that service in any other facility. Ever. They actually sit down with the patient, show them the image on a big screen and identify what their pathology is with them.” That personal service and speed are both factors for Murphy, a competitive triathlete herself. She knows how sports can take a toll on your body. She also knows athletes can be impatient when it comes to the healing process.
Getting Athletes Back on Track
Taking the time to repair and regenerate isn’t easy for many runners. Rest can lead to anxiety and depression because they can’t do what they love. Nobody knows the essence of time like a marathon runner who pushes through every second of a race that can last more than 3 hours. Try telling an athlete like that to take 3 months off training. That’s why Dr. Singh says catching and treating injuries early is key:
“They’re very different from the normal person because they do want to get back to competition and sometimes an extended rehabilitation process can be challenging for them. They want results quicker than what their body may be able to deliver them. This can be challenging.”
Downtime doesn’t translate very well for Jennifer, who has an approach to recovery that is almost as aggressive as her training schedule. While she was injured, she found alternate ways to train so she wouldn’t miss the Boston Marathon. Jennifer admits some people don’t understand her attitude:
“Oh, they say I’m crazy all the time.”
But among athletes, her drive to compete is the norm. “When we’re hanging out with all the people who do what we do, I don’t feel crazy at all,” Jennifer says laughing. “It feels totally normal. But I’ve always been a competitive and highly driven person anyway so to me it’s normal.”
With an Ironman competition on her calendar this summer and plans to someday qualify for the ultimate Ironman in Kona, Jennifer tries to balance her hopes of healing and her long-term goals.
Rather than thinking about the downtime, she suggests focusing on what it will take to get back to a sport long term. For injured long-distance runners, that means the most important race to win is the road to recovery.
RAYUS-Boston is part of our national network of outpatient imaging centers.