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19 Tue

Beware the treatment hype

Beware the treatment hype

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


Beware the sports/orthopedic treatment hype triad: famous athlete, famous doctor, and untested treatment.  This is a line from an article in the New York Times regarding sports medicine and the popularity of unproven treatments for athletes.  The article described common injuries to athletes and the increased use of unproven treatments such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections.  I oftentimes refer to it when patients ask me about this treatment.

There are treatments that are proven to work like casting a broken bone or a surgical repair to a ruptured Achilles tendon, the article goes on to say, and then there are the fad treatments that have become popular because celebrity athletes are getting the treatment and showing promising results.  There are many news reports of athletes receiving PRP injections to fix a number of injuries and their quick return to sport.  Because of this media exposure, weekend warriors are coming to sports medicine specialists and asking for these unproven treatments by name.

PRP injection has had great success in the media, but little by way of scientific evidence and study.  According to the New York Times article, some injuries can heal over time, so does PRP injection really work?  It’s an expensive procedure that may not be covered by insurance.  Many doctors were cited in the article discussing its possible benefits, but most studies were found to be lacking sufficient scientific rigor and definite conclusions were hard to come by.

I’ve written about scientific method and getting reliable information on the internet before, but when it comes down to celebrity endorsements, it’s tough to compete.  My opinion?  Get a second one.  Always think about and research possible treatment options for your injury.  In the Times article, the sports medicine specialty was described as a boutique business where one has a product and needs to sell it.  It can be close to a conflict of interest for a doctor to perform or prescribe a treatment that they have a vested interest in.

Do some research and make up your own mind.  One thing you could try is to try some conservative treatment first.  How about a visit to a physiotherapist?  The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) acknowledges physiotherapists as primary medical care providers for their professional athletes.  Physiotherapists are the first line of medical care courtside, before, and after matches.  We are experts at musculoskeletal injuries, and all our treatments are evidenced-based.  We don’t have the ‘boutique business’ aura that sports medical doctors have, so you can expect proven treatments that can address your injuries.  If we can’t, we can refer you out to another medical professional for additional diagnostic testing or for other treatment options.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.


Image courtesy of Praisaeng /

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