Platelet rich plasma, commonly referred to as PRP, is the patient’s own human blood that is spun down and separated producing a concentration of platelets above the natural values commonly found in their blood. This concentration of platelets can jump start and aid healing when injected in a certain area of the body that is chronically injured and when proper healing has not taken place. Platelets are the clotting cells within human blood, but they have great potential in boosting the healing of damaged muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These platelets contain natural growth hormones and proteins that tell your tissues to increase rebuilding to enhance your recovery and help stop the pain.
Platelet Rich Plasma treatment has shown to be an effective and natural alternative to steroid injections, helping to eliminate longterm medication and ultimately prevent surgery, and patients typically see a significant improvement in symptoms and return of movement. Platelet Rich Plasma therapy has been shown to restore blood flow, new cell growth, tissue regeneration, and may ultimately result in faster healing of soft tissue injuries.
Physicians that are trained in the use of Platelet Rich Plasma therapy inject Platelet Rich Plasma into spinal ligaments, facet joints, or discs when other traditional treatments have failed and have found promising results. Furthermore, sports medicine doctors have also found great results when Platelet Rich Plasma is injected into injured shoulder rotator cuffs or Achilles tendons when proper healing has not taken place.
Currently there are many clinical trials underway around the world to determine the full potential of using Platelet Rich Plasma. Initial studies suggest the growth factors released by platelets recruit reparative cells, aid and assist tissue repair, and expedite soft tissue healing.
Your doctor will perform an exam and discuss if Platelet Rich Plasma treatment is a good option for your condition. A sample of your blood will be withdrawn from typically your arm.
The sample of the patient’s blood is placed in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from white blood cells and platelets.
Blood cells are separated from the plasma, creating a concentration and the plasma is divided into platelet-poor and platelet-rich portions.
Only the desired platelet-rich portion is collected and injected back into the injured tendon, ligament, joint, or disc that has been determined to be the source of the problem, which hasn’t been healing with conventional treatment methods.
If the problem source is around the spine, fluoroscopy guidance must be used to assure safe and proper placement of Platelet Rich Plasma at the desired site. If the problem area is in an extremity like a shoulder rotator cuff or Achilles tendon, often ultrasound guidance is used to assist the injection into the injured area.
The injection stimulates a mild inflammatory response, which triggers the healing process. This process may be repeated 1-2 times over a sixteen-week period.
Platelet Rich Plasma is derived entirely from a patient’s own blood, which is considered extremely safe with zero concern for rejection, infection, or disease transmission.
Patients who receive injections of PRP may feel temporary pain and soreness at the injection site, which may last up to 1 week.
It is advised to have a light physical therapy designed course and avoid overloading the injected tissues in the weeks following the injections, which allows the tissues to gradually heal without added stress. It is advised that the patient should use ice, elevation, and other medications for comfort while the PRP is initialing healing.
Platelet Rich Plasma is typically not considered a first line treatment option and is usually only considered after other traditional treatments have failed with little to no improvement.
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