Human bodies comprise many tissues with multiple functions. Sometimes, they break down, get torn, or injured during certain activities. Musculoskeletal tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments are such tissues. Healing these tissues is tough as they are used regularly to help you move. Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is an effective way to naturally heal our bodies using our own blood.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has been recognized as a unique, non-surgical therapy to heal injured tissue. PRP has been used for decades for wound and soft tissue healing by orthopedic surgeons and wound care physicians. Currently, it is being used in surgery, used to reduce post-operative pain, promote tissue repair, and reduce healing periods in a variety of different disciplines. PRP Therapy promotes physiological wound healing, soft and hard tissue regeneration by delivering growth factors at high concentrations to the treated site.
What are Platelets?
Platelets are a crucial part of the body’s ability to stop bleeding and to repair damaged blood vessels and cells in the body. A good way to think of them is as “little power-houses”, which release proteins (called growth factors) when they become activated by contact with the body’s tissue. Growth factors, such as: VEGF, TGFβ, PDGF, IGF, and IFG involve in: stimulation of cellular proliferation of fibroblasts and osteoblasts, promote synthesis of extracellular matrix, and enhance collagen synthesis. When a high concentration of healing platelets and growth factors are introduced into the injured area or arthritic joint the healing process is jump-started.
How is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) made?
To prepare PRP, blood is taken from the patient's arm with a special kit similar to a normal blood test. It is then placed in a special centrifugation machine that separates the platelets and other healing factors from the blood. The platelet-rich solution is then collected and applied to the treated site to promote soft and hard tissue regeneration. The whole process takes about 20-30 minutes.
What are the Benefits and Advantages of PRP Therapy?
PRP stimulates the healing of the injured tissue by activating the body’s natural healing capacity. This may eliminate the need for more aggressive and expensive treatment options such as long-term medication or surgery. In addition, PRP Therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that is done in the clinic; therefore, the patient goes home the same day.
- PRP is autologous, so the injections carry fewer risks to no risk.
- PRP may be used in combination with other treatments.
- Other treatments have some side effects or drawbacks:
- Cortisone injections only help with inflammation while having NO healing capabilities. Repeated injections can weaken ligaments and tendons over time and may have detrimental effects on healthy cartilage.
- Hyaluronic Acid only provides lubrication, allowing bones to glide one another. No healing capabilities and have no long-term benefits.
- Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) can reduce pain but long-term use can aggravate stomach problems.
- Minor surgeries such as arthroscopic debridement have mixed results.
- Joint replacement surgeries require long-term rehabilitation and are reserved for more debilitating cases of arthritis.
- PRP operates under the theory that in treatment for osteoarthritis injected growth factors will:
- Inhibit inflammation and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis
- Increase the production of natural lubricating fluid in the joint, thereby easing painful joint friction.
Who is using PRP Therapy?
PRP Therapy has become increasingly popular after several high-profile celebrities and professional athletes have talked publicly about the benefits they have had from the treatment. It has become an early treatment option in the treatment of professional athletes that have suffered muscle, joint, tendon and ligament injuries.
Many famous athletes had admitted beneficial implications of PRP Therapy, such as:
In 2008, Woods had an ACL injury. After reconstruction, he received PRP injections.
The Yankees player had 5 PRP sessions after his hip surgery in 2009. He was able to get back into shape for playing again way sooner than anticipated by his physician.
Used to fly to Germany to heal his knee faster and avoid the threat of having to retire early.
Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward
Both NFL players underwent PRP and got back in time for the Super Bowl to lead to victory. They had knee and rotator cuff injuries.
PRP Therapy is used in other Medical Treatments:
- Hair Restoration
- Pain Management
- Wound Management
- Sexual Rejuvenation
- Cosmetic Gynecology