Spanish explorers spent centuries looking for the fountain of youth and healing without success. But perhaps modern science has found the next best thing and it’s inside all of us. Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is derived from our blood and has been used to encourage healing in a variety of fields, including plastic surgery, dentistry, dermatology, and orthopedics.
While we think of blood as a liquid (that liquid is called plasma), it contains solid matter such as red cells, platelets, and white cells. Platelets are used primarily for clotting blood — think of them as the first responders our body sends when we suffer a soft tissue injury. They also contain hundreds of proteins, known collectively as “growth factors,” which play a very important role in healing.
Platelet Rich Plasma is exactly what it sounds like – plasma that has many more platelets than the average equivalent amount of plasma – often 5 to 10 times richer than is typical. PRP is prepared by drawing blood from a patient. This blood then has its platelets separated from other blood cells increasing their concentration in a process known as centrifugation. Then the concentrated mass of platelets is combined with the remaining blood, resulting in PRP.
How Does PRP Work?
Typically, PRP is carefully injected directly into the area that is injured. As an example, if a patient has tendonitis in the heel, PRP would be injected directly into the inflamed area (using a local anesthetic for pain management). There is also a surgical application of PRP. During surgery, PRP can be stitched into the torn tissues of the injured area (such as a ligament).
This is a very attractive alternative to surgery, as it uses the body’s natural ability to heal itself. The entire therapy takes only a few hours and has the added benefit of no or minimal recovery time! Most patients can return to their jobs or daily activities shortly after PRP therapy.
What Conditions are Treated with PRP?
While much of the attention in the media has centered around PRP to treat acute sports injuries (such as healing sport celebrities’ muscle or ligament injuries), studies have also shown PRP to be very effective for treatment of chronic tendon injuries, such as chronic Achilles tendonitis, arthritis or “tennis elbow.”
It has also been suggested that PRP ca,n reduce lower back pain (including treating structural ligaments) by improving stability and dispersion of the body’s weight along the spine.
What are Some of the Side Effects of PRP?
PRP is very safe overall, provided you are working with a practitioner who is well-trained in PRP procedures. At Coastal Orthopedics, we have practitioners who are knowledgeable and experienced in PRP treatments. Most side effects (if any) are mild and disappear a few days after injection. Over-the-counter pain medication can be effective in managing pain during recovery. While it’s best to avoid intense exercise for several days following the injections, regular activity and movement aren’t usually impacted. Other side effects can include swelling at the place of injection, headaches, increased pain and stiffness and rarely, permanent nerve damage. Before getting treatment, it’s important to take your time, ask many questions and ensure that PRP is right for you.
Are you suffering from tendonitis or living in pain and wondering if PRP is right for you?
In today’s modern world, there’s no reason to live in pain – it’s time to get on the path to recovery. If you’re interested in learning more about PRP or if you’re experiencing pain that does not subside after rest and other at-home remedies, please contact us. Our Coastal Orthopedics’ Regenerative Medicine Concierge at 941-794-5868 is ready to schedule an appointment or to send you more information to make an informed choice.
We have four convenient locations in Bradenton, Florida to serve you better: Coastal Center, Lakewood, Pointe West and East Surgery Center and are looking forward to answering your questions.