Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a solution taken from a patient’s own blood. It is specially processed to contain concentrated levels of growth factors and platelets. It is being used to address tendinitis and tendon irritations, and bursitis around the knee, shoulder, ankle, and elbow joints.
How is PRP therapy administered?
The PRP procedure begins with drawing a small amount of a patient’s blood, about the same amount that your primary care doctor would take for typical lab testing. Then, the blood is processed at high speed in a centrifuge, isolating the platelets and growth factors in the plasma (fluid) portion of the blood.
The resulting PRP solution is then injected into the area to be treated, often guided by imaging techniques to ensure it is placed in the precise location needed. Thus, the platelets and growth factors are released directly into the injured area, where they boost the body’s natural healing response. PRP injections can be combined with other treatments, such as physical therapy and surgical interventions.
What can PRP therapy help with?
Some examples of treatment areas where PRP has been used include:
- Tissue healing
PRP therapy may be used to promote tissue healing. It was first used to help promote healing after jaw and plastic surgeries. Tissues that may respond to PRP therapy include:
Ligaments, like other connective tissues, have a limited blood supply and can be substantially time-consuming and challenging to heal. This fact makes PRP therapy an attractive option for those who experience such injuries.
- Inflammation reduction
PRP therapy has been used to reduce the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Inflammation in the joints can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced function.
- Hair growth
PRP injections into the scalp reduce inflammation and provide growth factors that can lead to hair follicle regeneration and new hair growth.
Why use PRP instead of other treatments?
One of the commonly-used treatments for damaged or injured tissues and joints is a cortisone injection. Cortisone is a hormone, specifically a steroid, that decreases inflammation. Once inflammation is reduced, pain, swelling, and reduced function will typically subside. Unfortunately, cortisone can also reduce activity in healthy cells and tissues and may weaken those tissues.
Joints that are injected with cortisone repeatedly show damage to the articular cartilage surfaces, which covers and protects the ends of bones. A cortisone injection doesn’t work to heal the damaged tissue actively; it only serves to suppress and mask the injury. PRP treatment can address the underlying cause of the problem, regenerating tissue, and providing lasting relief.
Additionally, PRP treatment is non-surgical and drug-free. Medications, like some kinds of injections, only suppress symptoms temporarily. Once the drug wears off, you need to take more, Some prescription medications are addictive, and you can build up a tolerance to them, requiring more and more of the prescription drug to get the same pain-relieving effect. Other medicines come with the potential for harmful side effects. PRP therapy is a natural form of healing that helps to avoid these pitfalls.