In recent years, practitioners have discovered that the body is capable of self-healing. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a branch of Regenerative Medicine and Orthopedics that can harness this potential and augment standard growth factors produced by your body to heal tissue.
What are plasma and platelets?
Plasma is the blood’s liquid component. It is primarily made up of water and proteins and serves as a medium for circulating platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells throughout the body. On the other hand, platelets (or thrombocytes) are blood cells that form blood clots and perform other vital healing and growth functions. They have proteins known as growth factors that enable them to carry out their functions. Note that it is impossible to control inflammatory responses, heal tissues, or regenerate new skin without platelets because the body cannot prompt itself to run in “healing mode.” Moreover, platelets increase collagen production and induce blood flow, both of which are essential for the healing of the body.
The goal of this therapy is to boost the effectiveness of platelets. By accumulating and isolating platelets into one injection, a wounded body part may receive up to five times the normal amount of stem cells found in whole blood. Best of all, the blood is drawn from the patient’s own supply, avoiding the possibility of contamination, infection, mismatch, or other complications. Essentially, platelet-rich plasma has been shown to accelerate the healing process significantly, and PRP injections are becoming more common for several injuries and diseases.
The following are seven common conditions for which platelet-rich plasma therapy is beneficial:
- Osteoarthritis, as in degenerative knee disease patients.
- Patients who suffer from joint or disk disease in the spine.
- Ligament tears or sprains sustained due to sports, work-related, or other injuries.
- Individuals suffering from tendonitis, like Achilles tendonitis.
- Hand injuries include skier’s thumb, texting thumb, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Shoulder problems, for instance, labral tears, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff partial tears,
- Conditions affecting the elbow, such as tennis or golfer’s elbow.
What is PRP, and how is it administered?
In general, PRP therapy accelerates the healing of afflicted tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints by injecting concentrations of patients’ platelets. it is a pretty simple procedure that Dr. Alicia R. Carter from Miami performs in under two hours. It doesn’t require any hospitalization and can be done as an outpatient process.
Unlike in other blood tests, where you’re generally required not to drink or eat for about 12 hours prior, it doesn’t require any preparations. You’ll only be required to hydrate well beforehand to facilitate a simple process. If you’re on NSAID anti-inflammatory or corticosteroid drugs, the doctor may require you to stop using them for about a week before the surgery and not get back them straight away; they may adversely interfere with the therapy or nullify the outcomes.
PRP therapy involves the following:
- Collecting blood
The procedure usually requires about 15 to 50ml of blood. It is similar to providing a blood sample for a test. A practitioner inserts the collection needle into your arm’s vein and collects blood in a small vessel.
After collection, your blood is inserted into a centrifuge, which spins it very quickly, separating your red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and white blood cells.
- Processing and collecting your platelets
Regular human blood has approximately 200,000 platelets for every ml. On the other hand, platelet-rich plasma has 5X that amount. After processing, the practitioner will have about 7ml of platelet-rich plasma, which they will administer immediately.
- Injecting the Platelet-rich Plasma
The practitioner will inject directly the activated and concentrated substance into diseased or injured body tissue. This results in the release of growth factors, which activate and increase the number of stem cells produced by the body. Occasionally, ultrasound imaging is used to direct the injection.
What Is the Injection Process for PRP?
To inject the concentrate into an injury site, the practitioner will cleanse your skin with alcohol, Betadine, or iodine to ensure it is clear of potential infection-causing germs. Because the therapy may take a few more minutes, you’ll be given a local anesthetic to ensure comfort.
Traditionally, an anesthetic is administered into the afflicted area and allowed to take effect for up to fifteen minutes. Alternatively, the practitioner may use ultrasonic probes to establish a “nerve block” to achieve the same result as an additional injection. The ultrasonic nerve block may also be necessary because of your physical state, nature, location of the injury, or personal preference.
The practitioner will use the ultrasound to visualize the area and guide their hand to inject the concentrate into the correct area. They will use a tiny amount of ultrasound gel on your skin over the afflicted area, then apply a small ultrasound probe, or wand, to the area. Then display the final image on a screen. If the wounded body part has scar tissue, they’ll puncture it several times to develop routes for the PRP to infiltrate.
Is Post-Op Care Required Following the Therapy?
After undergoing the therapy, you should be able to resume your normal daily activities. Since the injection fills your injury site with fluid, it is typical for the area to feel tender and swollen—as if you sprained your body part. Most people can treat this pain with simple analgesics, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Remember that you should not treat any discomfort following PRP therapy with NSAIDs such as naproxen and ibuprofen since these medications will significantly interfere with the treatment. Some individuals may develop substantial post-procedural discomfort due to the therapy’s heightened inflammatory effect. One important thing to do is to exercise patience. PRP does not provide rapid pain alleviation. The regeneration of healthy tissue using it will require weeks to complete.
In summary, platelet-rich plasma therapy utilizes your body’s natural healing abilities to expedite injury healing, alleviate pain, and improve overall health and function. If you’re interested in learning more about PRP and how it can benefit you, contact us via phone or online.