Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
- Source: Autologous (from you)
- Treatment Areas: Lumbar facet and SI joints, large joints, small joints,
muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Stage of Arthritis: Mild to Moderate
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) has been used in high profile athletes for over a decade to heal acute sports-related injuries. Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Tiger Woods, and Steph Curry are just a few of the famous athletes that have benefited from PRP injections over the years. It wasn’t until the famous athletes began getting PRP that the general public and the medical community, in general, took an interest.
Decades ago, scientists and some pioneering physicians discovered that putting a concentrated amount of platelets into a wound helped the wound heal faster than normal. Over the last 2 decades of refinement and research the methods of obtaining and preparing PRP have become streamlined and more effective. Now, PRP is a mainstay of regenerative medicine treatment. It is safe, effective, has no side effects, and has even been shown to be superior to cortisone for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Studies have shown that cortisone injections can actually damage cartilage inside joints, and cortisone has other side effects such as elevating blood sugar, thinning of the skin, easy bruising, poor wound healing, and many more. More and more doctors and patients are choosing PRP over cortisone for acute and chronic musculoskeletal complaints.
About Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment
How is PRP used for tissue regeneration?
Platelets are tiny but specialized blood cells that circulate in our bloodstream. They have 2 major functions. The first function is to stop bleeding. When you cut yourself or have an injury, platelets are the first things to congregate at the site of injury. They clump together in response to exposed/damaged tissue and stop the bleeding. (This is why you tend to bleed longer when you take aspirin. The aspirin prevents platelets from working.) But the second function of platelets is the one we are interested in. Platelets are like miniature pharmacies. They are literally packed full of hundreds of different chemicals called cytokines. After the platelets clump together at the site of an injury, they release large amounts of these chemical cytokines. These cytokines signal the body that an injury has occurred, and the body responds by sending stem cells and more growth factors into the injured tissue. This step is critical in how our bodies heal tissue damage. The growth factors in PRP are what the body uses to initiate the healing process. We are taking your body’s own growth factors, concentrating them, and injecting them directly into the areas of tissue injury. This kick-starts the healing process, and the body takes over from there, healing itself.
Who is a candidate for treatment utilizing PRP?
PRP is an excellent first choice treatment for patients with mild degenerative arthritis. PRP is also utilized for partial tendon tears like rotator cuffs, patellar tendons, Achilles’ tendons, muscle tears, partially torn ligaments, small joints like thumbs and wrists, and facet joints in the spine. PRP does not contain stem cells…only growth factors, so patients with more advanced degrees of tissue damage, like rotator cuff tears or moderate to severe arthritis, may require actual stem cells.
Is the procedure painful?
PRP is obtained through a simple blood draw. The blood is then spun in a centrifuge and the platelet-rich plasma is collected and concentrated into a syringe. This process takes about 20 minutes depending on how much PRP is required to complete your injections. No drugs or chemicals are added, save for a naturally-occurring anticoagulant to keep the specimen from clotting in the syringe during processing. Your own blood is used for this and not anyone else’s. The only people that should not have PRP treatment are patients with certain types of blood disorders like leukemia or patients with abnormalities of platelet number or function, most of which are easily diagnosed by routine lab testing.
How long before I can expect results?
PRP is not like a cortisone shot. (For one thing, cortisone has many side effects.) Cortisone works quickly, in a day or two, and then begins to slowly wear off. PRP is the opposite. It takes several weeks for the growth factors in PRP to begin healing the tissue damage. Usually by week 3-4 most patients are beginning to see a noticeable decrease in their pain levels. But the good news is that, unlike cortisone, the effects of PRP get STRONGER over time. The healing process continues, and patients continue to notice gradual improvement in their pain levels for the first 6 months after a PRP injection.