10 Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy Facts

Platelet Rich Plasma PRP Therapy
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Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy or PRP Therapy, is displaying great promise more particularly with sport injuries, such as ligament sprains, chronic inflammation, and tendon tears.  This relatively new non-surgical treatment can help relieve pain, stimulate permanent healing, and eliminate the need for surgery.

In fact, if it lives up to its full potential, PRP could end up dramatically altering the way we treat acute and chronic pain.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

So what exactly is platelet rich plasma therapy?  It’s a procedure that involves taking a small quantity of a patient’s blood (akin to a lab test sample), and rotates it in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from platelets.

Once this is accomplished, the concentrated platelets are re-injected into the damaged area — knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, and even Achilles tendons.

The theory behind it all is having the platelets eventually release growth factors that help the tissue recover, having the patient ideally improve within a few weeks.

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Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a blood plasma that holds a high concentration of platelets that is much greater than that of normal blood.  The platelets are generally concentrated at 4-6 times above the normal platelet baseline.

In general, plasma represents a little more than half of the total circulating blood volume.  It is a clear, straw-colored liquid which is composed of over 90% water. Plasma also contains minerals, hormones, immunoglobulins, minerals, and clotting factors including platelets.

Since the treatment is something that can be debated and tested for some time to come, here are ten important facts you should know about Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment:

1. Caution on PRP Therapy Usage

Although there have been many positive personal stories and highly acclaimed successes on the use of PRP Therapy, some orthopedic surgeons remain wary and skeptical about such widespread trend, stating that there hasn’t yet been enough substantial research done to promote it widely.

2. Regenerating Tissue Therapy

Research studies and clinical practice have indicated that platelet rich plasma therapy is very advantageous. Both ultra-sound and MRI images have exhibited definitive tissue repair after treatment, validating the healing process.

Surgery can also be lessened or prevented when the treatment of injured tissues is achieved before the damage progresses considering that complications could possibly leave the condition irreversible.

3. PRP Common Areas of Use

  • .  osteoarthritis of the knee
  • .  hip and spine
  • .  shoulder
  • .  rotator cuff tears
  • .  pelvic pain & instability
  • .  back and neck injuries
  • .  ankle sprains
  • .  tennis elbow
  • .  tendonitis
  • .  ligament sprains

4. Activating the Body’s Healing Process

As you may already know, the human body has an amazing natural ability to heal itself. One of the body’s first response to injury is an immediate delivery of blood platelets to the damaged area. 

Filled with the capacity of growth and healing factors, platelets kick off the repair process, attracting the crucial aid of stem cells.

By leveraging this perfectly natural mechanism, PRP heightens the body’s efforts by providing a higher concentration of platelets and notably increasing the body’s natural healing ability.

5. Is PRP Therapy Safe?

Patients to whom PRP Therapy has been provided have shown noticeable improvement in their pain and discomfort level, as well as their ability to function.

Since your own blood will be used during the procedure, there will be no risk of any possible infection transmitted from another person.  Plus PRP is performed in a sterile, clinic-based environment, without the need for any general anesthesia or hospitalization.

6. Faster Healing

PRP Therapy assists in stopping pain through healing, where it can supply lasting results.

Initial improvement can be seen within just a few weeks. It slowly but steadily increases the effects as the healing progresses.

7. Main Purpose in the Use of Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

The ultimate goal of Platelet Rich Plasma treatment is to provide immediate solution towards swift alleviation of pain caused by injury.

It focuses on speeding up the healing process at a rate more quickly than the normal healing process; where at times, taking only as short as a few weeks.

8. How It All Began

Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment was first used on cardiac surgery in 1987 when physicians discovered that platelets have shown powerful healing properties. They began experimenting with bone and skin grafts, further exploring the soft tissue and bone regeneration processes.

Before that, PRP has already been in use for years by other specialties outside of pain management such as urology, ophthalmology, dentistry, and cardiothoracic surgery.

9. Another Common Name for PRP Therapy

Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment is frequently called stem cell treatment due to the fact that it behaves a method of bringing in cells from a person’s own body, which can then actually differentiate into either tendon, cartilage, or ligament cells.

At present, platelet rich plasma injections are not covered by insurance reimbursements.

10. PRP Therapy Risks

There is a very small chance for patients to suffer from any allergic reaction with the use of the numbing medicine during the procedure. A very slim risk for infection is also observed since the blood is being taken from the patient’s own body, processed, and eventually re-injected.

However, there will be some slight discomfort in the use of PRP, which is initial pain for the first 48 to 72 hours from the time the procedure has been completed.  This occurs due to the growth factors and inflammatory mediators in the platelet rich plasma beginning to work, and often leads to some aching in the treatment area for the first 2 to 3 days. 

Afterwards, the benefits should start to be felt and immediate relief from pain is usually experienced.

Progress of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

While there is currently no official acceptance of PRP Therapy as a genuine cure for certain illnesses and injuries, hopes run high.  Treatment with PRP Therapy for ligament injury, bursitis, tendon injury, inflammatory conditions, and arthritis continues to be very exciting and certainly on the cutting edge of regenerative medicine.

PRP injections are often combined with a physical therapy program. In fact, physical therapy treatment programs can help facilitate the growth of new tissues.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is being heralded as a solution for several health problems. It has also been regarded as a cure for brain cancer as well as a magical health restorative for other concerns. You might even have heard of PRP for hair loss.

However, you must be careful and do your research before accepting any treatment for whatever particular injury, illness, or condition you’re suffering from. While it might not be a panacea or universal cure, it could turn out to be a miracle treatment nonetheless.

Only time will give us the answers we seek, but while waiting, if you feel that you have the need for this kind of treatment, at least now you’re quite knowledgeable. PRP Therapy may give you a whole lot to gain.

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Updated: October 10, 2018

About the Author:

Melissa Gomez, RN, MSN is a board certified nurse and has been a contributing writer for the past five years. Ms. Gomez has a special focus on platelet-related illness prevention and health promotion.

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