PRP: A shot full of miracles

Four and a half weeks ago I couldn’t bend over, extend my leg in front of me or sit for more than a few minutes without a deep pain in the butt. Four and a half weeks ago I got my first injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to treat a chronic hamstring tendinopathy. I was desperate and eager, but also very skeptical. “You’re a perfect candidate for the treatment,” my doctor encouraged me. “We’ve had incredible success with cases just like yours.” I wanted so badly to believe him, but didn’t want to face the disappointment if it didn’t work. This was my last resort. I had tried every other treatment in the books – ART, physical therapy, massage, dry needling, you name it – none of it helped. So why would PRP? What would I do if it didn’t work?

Platelet-rich plasma: The nitty-gritty

I covered the procedure in detail previously, but to summarize, I received three injections into the injured hamstring, each spaced a week apart. The first was intensely painful, but each subsequent shot was noticeably more tolerable. Despite my doctor’s advice to avoid running completely, I continued running throughout the treatment and recovery, albeit at a slightly reduced mileage (I’ve been logging roughly 25-35 miles/week, compared to my typical 40-45 miles/week). At no point did I feel the running set me back, and if anything, I suspect the gentle activity may have helped stimulate healing.

So, did it work, you ask?

Fast forward to today, and I can confidently say I’ve experienced a medical miracle. I’m by no means 100%, but in just a month I’ve witnessed dramatic, objective improvement and continue to improve daily. For the first couple of weeks, I really wanted to feel an effect and at points convinced myself I felt something. In retrospect, these early notions were most certainly a placebo effect. However, right around two weeks – after my final treatment  – the wishful thinking turned into an undeniable reality. Since then I’ve developed 1) increased range of motion, 2) remarkable strength, and 3) essentially no pain running. Even my ART and massage therapists were astounded at how different … healthier … my tissue felt. So I guess it’s really not just in my head?

Welcome back, Gumby!

I’ve always been flexible … almost too flexible for a runner. But that range of motion disappeared with my recent hamstring flare-up, and I haven’t been able to bend over without intense pain in seven months. Today, I can easily touch my toes (pain-free and without fear of ripping my hamstring!) and can almost do the splits, just like my typically Gumby-esque self.

Return of strength

The tearing in my hamstring left me not only tight and inflexible, but also weak. I’ve been unable to do simple exercises that engage the hamstring, like reverse planks and hamstring curls. Today, my bad leg is still weaker than my good, but I can hold a single-legged reverse plank without collapsing in pain. Now that‘s progress!

Goodbye pain!

The last tidbit of evidence that I’m legitimately improving is the joyous absence of pain while running! Sure, I still feel tight. My stride occasionally shortens, especially with fatigue or during the last couple miles of a long run. But I no longer have to stop mid-run to jam my fist into my cramping butt. Perhaps the most wondrous perk of the this miraculous healing process has been regaining those blissful miles of meditative escape. Instead of cringing in anxious anticipation of when my hamstring will throw a tantrum, or of when my hip will lock up and my feet will refuse to turn over, I can once again float along, physically fluid and mentally free.

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6 thoughts on “PRP: A shot full of miracles

  1. David says:

    Hello, just got my first PRP injection 3 days ago, is just sore to sit and bending. Have you Done any strenght work between your shots or just run? Your tendon Also looked much better on ultrasound on the last injection? Hopefully i can soon notice improvement . any advice? Thanks

    • Emilie Reas says:

      David, the soreness is normal and will go away pretty quickly. Yes, I’ve been doing a LOT of strength work over the past year or so, focusing mostly on hamstrings, hips and core. The PRP will help healing, but will not address the cause of the problem, which could well be weakness or muscular imbalances. Good luck!

  2. […] fractures, torn tendons, you name it, I had it. This came to a blissful end about a year ago when I bid adieu to my most frustrating injury, a chronic hamstring tendinopathy that’s haunted me nearly my […]

  3. Mustapha Maalej says:

    I got my PRP last week. Had a Hamstring tendinopathy for a year but in my case, I couldn’t run at all. I also did a needling procedure where the doc poked the hamstring 6 times before injecting the Plasma. My pain is very uncomfortable but I should gove it 1 more week before starting my recovery with doing walks first. Glad to hear it worked for you. I really hope it does for me too 🙂

  4. Hi, I just had a PRP almost 2 weeks ago, also for a tendinopathy of my high hamstring.
    Just wanted to share my experience and ask for some feedback on how others have evolved in their healing process.

    The tendinopathy has been bothering me at least for 9 months. My symptoms are similar to Emilies’, just that mine seem to be milder, as my flexibility was not that bad. The main limitations were running beyond 2 miles without pain and doing a reverse plank on my painful leg without feeling it right away. Another issue I have is the irritation of the sciatic nerve if I seat for too long, for instance in a car.

    I haven’t been running much for the past 6 months, just a bit here and there, as I was doing a lot of strengthening of my gluts and I wanted to see if it had improved. There was some improvement as I would feel the pain less frequently, but the problem was still there.

    I decided to see a new doctor who recommended the PRP without hesitation. He told me to not run and not to do anything strenuous. This was two weeks ago.

    So far I cannot say I have noticed a difference. If I do the reverse plank, I feel the pain right away. If I go up stairs, sometimes I feel it, sometimes not, like before. I haven’t tested running yet.

    Emilie mentioned that the crucial change came after two weeks. I am hopping that in 2 days (which will be my two weeks point) I can say the same.

    Have others also felt a sudden change after a certain period? And until then it feels as nothing had really changed? Or in general it is a very gradual and slow recovery up to four weeks?


    • Lindsey says:

      Hi Sergio,
      Wondering if your HHT ever improved? I had my first PRP injection today and I’m pretty sore. I’m praying this does the trick for me. My HHT affected my whole leg. Tightness throughout my quad calf and foot. Hoping this fixes all my problems

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