My name is Darryl Talley. I’m in my mid-50’s, live in Gardendale and I’m a CPA. I am a firm believer and the poster child for platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP)!
For more than twenty-five years, from my mid-20’s to early-50’s, I suffered with chronic tendinitis in both of my elbows. During the early years, I lived with the chronic pain and agitation that significantly impacted my quality of life.
I was an active, fit guy that “lifted heavy,” but when the tendinitis “started peaking” I could not perform simple, daily activities like carrying the groceries, typing on my computer, or picking up my kids without radiating pain and discomfort. I even avoided shaking hands at church or business meetings…nobody likes to shake your hand when you wince in pain from a simple gesture!
In my late 20’s (early 1990’s), at a period when the tendinitis was unbearable, I finally decided I needed to see a doctor. I found a very good pain management doctor in the Birmingham area. He diagnosed me with tendinitis and recommended steroid injections. I got an injection in both elbows. The pain and discomfort totally went away within a week, but 6 months later the tendinitis returned.
For nearly 20+ years, I was on a continuous cycle of steroid injections in both elbows, living pain free for 6-8 months until the tendinitis would flair up again causing me to go in for another round of steroid injections…do not pass go, do not collect $200.
In the summer of 2015, my pain management doctor brought up the idea of me trying a newer procedure he was performing. Some of his other patients had been seeing positive results from the procedure. It was called platelet-rich plasma therapy, or PRP for short.
At first, I thought PRP sounded quirky and that it was the newest medical fad. However, he went on to explain that it was a non-invasive procedure, in which he injected “a concentration of natural nutrients from the human body”…aka blood plasma…into my elbow tissue. He continued explaining the innovation and process, but when he mentioned that the “natural nutrients” were amniotic fluid from foreign placental tissue, essentially a portion of the afterbirth from a mother’s deliver of her new born baby, I decided against the procedure.
I was not very keen on injecting SOMEONE else’s blood into MY elbows. I told my doctor I wanted to do my own PRP research, so we moved forward with my standard steroid injection that day.
Nonetheless, I went home and started researching “PRP” on the internet. I started educating myself and reading testimonials of how the therapy had helped other people from across the world who suffered from tendonitis.
A few weeks after my latest visit with my pain management doctor (and the PRP conversation), I had an appointment with Dr. Cherie Miner at Andrews Sports Medicine regarding my elbows. I wanted a second opinion about my chronic elbow pain and about PRP. Dr. Miner had been our family’s “go-to” sports medicine doctor for years. Between myself and one of my daughters, we’d been in to see Dr. Miner many times over the years. Honestly, in all those years, I never went to see Dr. Miner specifically for my elbow tendinitis because I guess I had the mindset that I already had a doctor helping me manage the issue and his treatment plan was working okay for me.
Because I had been reading about PRP, I asked Dr. Miner about it. I had also learned it was likely that my current treatment of continually receiving steroid injections in my elbows would have negative long-term side effects.
After Dr. Miner examined my elbows, she explained that the Andrews practice were big proponents of PRP therapy and it had helped many of their patients who had either acute and/or chronic muscle and tissue injuries/conditions. She also mentioned that Dr. Ricardo Colberg was the most experienced Andrews physician when it came to PRP.
Dr. Miner quickly called Dr. Colberg and he stepped into the exam room a few moments later. I gave him a cliff notes version of my decades rollercoaster ride with elbow tendinitis, steroid injections. Dr. Colberg explained the entire PRP procedure – including how he administers the procedure in the clinic exam room under sonogram ultrasound-guided injection. However, the detail that stood out the most was that the PRP is derived from the blood of EACH INDIVIDUAL PATIENT. That #1 detail that stuck with me is that ONLY MY BLOOD PLATELETS would be injected into my body.
Dr. Colberg recommended I make an appointment to see him to specifically discuss PRP in more detail. I made an appointment with Dr. Colberg before I left the Andrews office.
During my initial appointment with Dr. Colberg the following week, he ordered an x-ray. We discussed the current condition of both of my elbows. He diagnosed me with chronic lateral epicondylitis and calcific tendinitis in my right elbow and chronic lateral epicondylitis and an intrasubstance tear in my left elbow. While both elbows and supporting tendons and muscles were under stress, Dr. Colberg was very surprised my tendons were not in worse condition based on the years of steroid injections received, which typically break down the structure strength of tendons. Dr. Colberg thoroughly explained PRP, including the risks and benefits of the procedure.
Suffice to say, Dr. Colberg performed the PRP therapy procedure on my left elbow on October 16, 2015. There was no pain and very little discomfort during the procedure. His staff withdrew my blood, took it out of the room to place it on the centrifuge, and then returned momentarily. At that point, Dr. Colberg injected my PRP into the concentrated area of my elbow, using the precise guidance of the sonogram ultrasound. I left the office in a sling and was told to wear it at all times the next week, which would stabilize my elbow and provide the PRP the maximum opportunity to stimulate my tendons and better activate the healing cascade.
I returned for a follow-up appointment two weeks later. Both Dr. Colberg and I were both pleased with the outcome. I had the PRP therapy on my right elbow on December 18, 2015, with very positive results as well. Since my right elbow was the worst of the two (due to a larger concentration of calcium deposits), Dr. Colberg had to perform a subsequent injection with a higher concentration of PRP a few months later.
Today is February 9, 2018. It has been nearly 2 ½ years since Dr. Colberg performed my first PRP procedure. I am amazed that I have not had a hint of tendinitis since the PRP was performed. If I had continued on my decades roller-coaster ride of steroid injections, I would have likely had 4-5 episodes of tendonitis and the subsequent 4-5 steroid injections.
I'm incredibly grateful to Dr. Colberg. Had he not performed this procedure in late 2015 and early 2016, I would still wrestle with tendinitis about every six to eight months!
If I were in the same situation as I was in 2 ½ years ago, I would do PRP again in a heartbeat!