Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is an innovative and increasingly popular type of regenerative medicine to treat acute and chronic soft-tissue injuries. This cutting-edge procedure is particularly popular for athletes and has gained notoriety in recent years as more and more high-profile athletes have utilized it as a way to return to their sport as quickly as possible. As more is learned about the procedure and its effectiveness, PRP therapy is proving to be a good treatment option for athletes of all levels because it helps to relieve pain while also allowing patients to return to daily routines sooner than other treatments allow.
What is PRP Therapy?
The primary component of blood is plasma, which is a liquid, but blood also contains some solid components including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. While platelets are often associated with blood clotting, they are also important because they contain proteins that play an important role in healing injuries. In fact, your body’s first response to a soft-tissue injury is to send platelets to the area. They start the natural healing process and attract stem cells to further help with the healing process.
Given the integral role that platelets play in the body’s healing process, PRP therapy works to inject high concentrations of platelets to an injured area. In PRP therapy, blood is first drawn from a patient. It is then placed in a centrifuge, which separates platelets from other blood cells. This highly-concentrated blood is then injected into the injured muscle or joint to help support and speed up the healing process.
Who is a Good Candidate for PRP Therapy?
Research is ongoing to better document the effectiveness of PRP therapy and to determine under what circumstances it is most effective. Nevertheless, current research does help to identify some factors that have an impact on the effectiveness of this treatment, namely the area of the body treated, the overall health of the patient, and whether the injury was acute or chronic.
From our experience at Glaser Pain Relief Center in Encino, California, we’ve found this treatment to be effective for patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and shoulder. Additionally, it’s proven effective for those with sports injuries including a torn ligament, chronic tendon injuries, chronic elbow ligament injuries, tendonitis, knee ligament pain and injuries, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff injuries, and ankle sprains. Further, the current research indicates that PRP therapy is highly effective for patients suffering from tennis elbow symptoms or chronic elbow tendon injuries.
What to Expect during PRP Therapy
PRP therapy is an in-office procedure that takes about 30 minutes. The first step of the procedure is having your blood drawn. Your blood will then be placed in a centrifuge for the process of separation and concentration. This process takes about 15 minutes. During that time, your doctor will likely reevaluate the location of your injury and use an ultrasound to perfectly pinpoint the location for the injection. That spot will be numbed with a local anesthetic, and then the highly concentrated blood will be injected, usually with ultrasound guidance.
Patients might feel discomfort but should not feel any pain during this short procedure. There is generally some soreness at the sight of injection immediately following the procedure, but all soreness should be resolved within a day or two and you should be able to resume all normal activities within 48 hours. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, it could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months for the injury to completely heal. During this time, your physician will likely create a treatment plan to further support healing, likely including physical therapy.
Even for athletes suffering from some of the worst sports injuries or ongoing soft tissue injuries, PRP therapy has proven to be an effective way for them to get pain relief and to return to normal activities as quickly as possible. Contact Glaser Pain Relief Center to learn more about this innovative, effective, and minimally invasive treatment.