What is PRP Injection Therapy?
Living with chronic pain can be frustrating and difficult. These conditions do not just affect professional athletes. In fact, every year millions of people suffer from chronic and painful conditions that affect the way they live their lives. Until now, doctors had limited options to treat chronic pain. However, new technology known as platelet-rich plasma therapy or PRP has introduced a way to regenerate blood cells to promote healing within the body.
Platelet-rich plasma speeds healing when it is placed right into the area of chronic pain. People who have had:
- chronic sprains;
- tendon injuries;
- rotator cuff tears
- and arthritis
can all benefit from this type of therapy. To perform this treatment, doctors inject the blood sample after it has been prepared properly directly into the injured area. Patients are ordered to rest for 6 to 8 weeks, then may undergo physical therapy. Some people who have more severe injuries may require multiple injections to achieve the pain free results they are looking for. PRP Injection therapy is a bit different than the more advanced stem cell therapy. Typically, stem cell therapy is much more complex to extract and prepare.
How Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Prepared?
Blood is comprised of white cells, red cells, and platelets. The platelets are responsible for helping the blood in the body clot properly. However, scientists have found platelets contain special proteins that help the body regenerate and heal. These proteins are known as growth factors and they can be up to 10 times more powerful in platelets than red or white cells. To extract these proteins, blood must be taken from the patient. Once the blood is drawn, it is placed into a centrifuge until the plasma separates from the white and red cells. Once it has separated it is added back into the remaining blood sample. The result is a higher concentration of plasma in that blood sample.
How Does PRP Treatment Work?
One of the best things about PRP treatments is that it is non-invasive. This means no surgery is required to administer the treatment. This reduces the risks of anesthesia and diminishes the likelihood of infection. After preparation, doctors inject the blood sample directly into the painful area. Doctors often numb the area to be injected with Lidocaine before performing the injection. This makes it a bit less painful, especially if the area to be treated is in a sensitive place. Doctors have also used this treatment during surgery to help speed the healing process. In these cases, doctors inject the blood sample right into the area after the surgical repair is made. Doctors have the blood sample prepared in such a way that it can be sutured into the wound where the torn tissues are. Over time, this helps the wound heal more effectively.
Are PRP Injections Safe?
PRP injections are considered to be one of the safest forms of treatment. When doctors introduce new medications or substances into the body, there is always a chance an allergic reaction could occur. However, platelet-rich plasma therapy uses a patient’s own blood. This eliminates the chance of a life-threatening allergic reaction. There is a small chance of nerve damage, which depends on the area being treated with the injections. A small chance of infection does exist, as with any type of treatment that introduces a needle into the body. Excessive bleeding could also occur in certain people, although it is rare. Overall, PRP injections are safe for those who are healthy overall.
Who Is A Candidate For PRP?
People with arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis in the knees, shoulders, and hips are generally good candidates for PRP. Those who experience chronic and painful tendonitis in the elbow may also benefit from this treatment. There is a long list of professional athletes who have used platelet-rich plasma treatment recently.
Doctors have used it to treat fractures and acute ligament tears.In most cases, doctors require patients to try other means such as anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and physical therapy before PRP.
When Can I Return To Normal Activity After PRP?
How fast patients return to normal everyday life depends on the severity of an injury and the area being treated. Most people feel better soon after the first injection and are anxious to become active again. While each case is evaluated on an individual basis, doctors have a basic idea depending on body part. Those with ankle injuries usually wear a boot when walking for 1 to 2 weeks after injection. Elbow and shoulder patients wear a sling for at least 1 week, longer if necessary. Knee patients are often allowed back to their normal activities just 24 hours after PRP injection therapy.
PRP has been proven to reduce the effects of both short-term and chronic conditions in many people. Since it uses blood taken from the body, there is less risk than with other types of treatments. While more scientific data is needed to be certain, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks. The risks associated with PRP injections is no higher than cortisone injections. Doctors have used steroids for years to treat chronic pain.
Perhaps the best thing about PRP injection therapy is its lasting effects. Since it works with the body’s own natural healing process, it does not wear off or diminish over time, unlike steroid injections. Most people treated with cortisone need another injection in 6 months to 1 year. Many people treated with this type of therapy never need another treatment to the same body part. This makes PRP a groundbreaking discovery in chronic pain management.
If you feel you may be a good candidate for PRP injection therapy contact us right away for a consultation. It is also important to check insurance information. Some insurance companies do not cover this new technology, but it is considered on a case-by-case basis.