Restore joint function and promote tissue healing with Platelet Rich Plasma.
Noted for its use in the treatment of chronic tendon and acute muscle injuries, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy may have other benefits as well. The treatment works by bathing cells in a mixture made from a patient’s own blood. The purpose of PRP therapy is to help tissues heal faster.
- Most of the attention on PRP use has come from athletes who have embraced it in an effort to get back to competitive form
- There is also potential for other people dealing with musculoskeletal problems
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What it Is
Platelets are the component of blood that help with clotting. These cell fragments also have a lot of growth factors, or proteins that promote tissue healing. Since only one percent of blood is platelets and plasma, a concentrated amount is needed to have a more significant effect on tissues. Made from a patient’s own blood, the mixture is created by spinning blood at a high speed (centrifugation) to separate the platelets.
How it Works
Studies on platelet-rich plasma suggest it may work by accelerating soft tissue healing. Platelets repair and attract stem cells to the location of an injury, which may further promote tissue regeneration. PRP therapy can be applied in two ways.
The most common method is by injection. Along with a local anesthetic, the mixture is injected directly into the affected area. Pain may increase at the injection site after the anesthetic wears off and then decrease as the platelets work on tissues.
PRP are sometimes used during surgery on tendons, ligaments, and other tissues around joints. The mixture is stitched into torn tissues. The platelet-rich concentration may help surgically repaired tissues heal faster when it’s used during surgery.
Results experienced with PRP therapy will depend on several factors, including the overall health of the patient and the specific area being treated. Typically, patients who respond well to the therapy will notice a decrease in pain and increased function in about 4-6 weeks. It’s still necessary for patients to actively participate in physical therapy and take precautions to avoid re-injury. In some cases, PRP therapy may help patients delay or avoid surgery altogether.
PRP therapy is typically used to treat chronic tendon issues such as tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, and Achilles tendinitis that aren’t responding well to other treatments. The main use of PRP therapy by athletes is to help heal acute ligament and muscle injuries like a pulled hamstring or knee strain. Some other conditions that may respond to PRP therapy include:
- Arthritis affecting hips, knees, shoulders, and other joints
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other forms of nerve entrapment
- Lumbar spine disc pain
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
Platelet-rich plasma isn’t meant to be a substitute for other treatments for joint pain or injuries affecting tendons and other soft tissues. In fact, it’s not likely to be a recommended option until other more traditional treatments have been tried. The treatment has the most potential for patients with chronic tendon injuries, although there’s evidence it may help with other conditions. Research on PRP therapy suggests it’s similar to cortisone (steroid) injections in terms of the results it may produce. It’s also considered a generally safe procedure with minimal risks.