You have probably heard about PRP being used to assist professional athletes like Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Kobe Bryant and Troy Polamalu to speed up their healing time. These athletes received PRP therapy after experiencing injuries that should have sidelined them for months, but instead experienced faster recovery time thanks to PRP treatments. As a standalone treatment, PRP is best be used to treat acute soft tissue injuries. It can also be used in conjunction with stem cell therapy to help provide the necessary growth factors to maximize healing potential.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet rich plasma is autologous (your body’s own) blood plasma with concentrated platelets. Typical concentrations of platelets in PRP are 5-10 times that found in blood. Platelets are small disk-shaped cells within your blood that contain natural sources of growth factors, proteins and cytokines that stimulate the healing of bone and soft tissues.
PRP is made of many different growth factors that are all products of blood borne platelets. This conglomeration of growth factors provides numerous ways of assisting in cell repair, some of which include: decreasing inflammation, improving cell growth, and act as signals to the bodies immune system. Depending on the specific cytokines, numerous metabolic pathways that aid in cell recovery are activated.
What Conditions are Treated with PRP?
PRP Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy can potentially treat a range of sports and acute injuries resulting in joint, tendon and ligament pain. Soft tissue injuries are most responsive to PRP treatment. The following is a representative, non-exhaustive sample:
- Joint pain resulting from inflammation after an acute injury
- Chronic Degenerative Joint Disease
- Ligament and muscle injuries
- Tendonitis, e.g. tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow
- Early partial tendon tears
How does PRP Heal Injuries?
- Releases Growth Factors (Cytokines): An important function of platelets is their ability to release growth factors, which are responsible for almost all repair processes that naturally occur in the body. These growth factors are called Cytokines. Cytokines play a very important role in cellular communication and cumulatively accelerate tissue and wound healing. PRP is a consolidator of these growth factors and many proteins that collectively stimulate repair and regeneration.
- Stimulates Growth and Attracts Stem Cells: By gathering at the site of an injury and attaching to the injured soft tissue, the platelets create a solid foundation for blood coagulation to occur. This results in a formation of a fibrin clot that covers your wound and prevents blood from leaving your body. The platelets do this while attracting the aid of your body’s stem cells, another natural healing element. PRP and stem cells can begin to make a fibrin layer. With this essential platform, new tissue may form and healing can begin to occur.
PRP and Stem Cells
PRP therapy alone can be effective for acute sports injuries, but often not sufficient for treating chronic joint injuries and degenerative disc disease that causes lower back pain. Much more profound results – tissue regeneration and pain relief – are often seen in these conditions when PRP is utilized in combination with stem cell injections. Both PRP and stem cells used in treating joints are autologous, i.e. harvested from your own body.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Because the plasma is from your own blood, there is no risk of infection or disease transmission. This is a completely natural way to heal your acute soft tissue injuries.
- Draw Blood – We will draw your blood (approximately 60-120 cc’s) and use a multi-step centrifuge process to isolate the platelet rich plasma.
- Spin Blood In A Centrifuge – A centrifuge is a medical machine that will apply force to your blood by spinning. This causes the different cells in your blood to separate based on their unique densities.
- Tailor the PRP Formula – We will tailor a custom PRP formula for you and your specific injury.
- PRP Injection – The PRP is injected directly into the injured tissue under live-image guidance with ultrasound and/or fluoroscopy.
Advantages of PRP for Joint Pain and Tendon and Ligament Injuries
- Safe – The platelets are harvested from your own blood, so there is little to no risk of an adverse rejection reaction or disease transmission.
- Cost Effective – PRP treatment is a quick, cost effective, outpatient procedure that’s harvested from 60-120 cc’s of your own blood. No hospital or facility costs are incurred.
- Fast Healing Time – PRP Therapy is a 60 minute in-office procedure. This gives you the freedom to resume daily activities with fast healing time. Patients will often need a break from sports and exercise for several weeks to a month.
- Avoidance of Invasive Surgery – Stem cell therapy administered in concert with PRP injections often leads to avoidance of joint surgery or lifting the burden of pain medication.
- All-Natural – By using your own harvested platelets, you are giving your body a chance to heal itself naturally.