Platelet Rich Plasma ( PRP ) Therapy and Treatment
Plasma concentrates are a way to help the body finish the healing process and strengthen the weakened tissue. The use of PRP, a portion of the patient’s own blood having a platelet concentration above baseline, to promote healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints, can be applied to various musculoskeletal problems.
What is plasma and what are platelets? How Platelet Rich Plasma ( PRP ) therapy works?
Your blood is not all cells but is predominantly made of a plasma, the liquid portion of whole blood, in which your red and white blood cells are suspended. Also floating in the plasma are cells called platelets, also called thrombocytes, and their role is to clot the blood to stop a bleeder. In addition, platelets have proteins called growth factors that would be responsible for the healing and regenerating powers after damage to a blood vessel wall. Platelet activation plays a key role in the body’s natural healing process. Platelet-rich plasma therapy uses injections that contain a high concentration of platelets, which can be from 5 to 10 times more than the untreated blood to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. PRP injections use each individual patient’s own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems. Growth factors are the key to the increased healing time and dramatic pain relief of PRP therapy that has proven successful in a variety of conditions as a stand-alone line of treatment or in conjunction with Stromal vascular fraction therapy or Mesenchymal cell therapy. Even when surgery could not be avoided in certain cases, the use of PRP therapy in conjunction has an added benefit to a speedy recovery due to its healing and anti-inflammatory effects.
What conditions can be treated with PRP therapy?
PRP therapy has been found to significantly enhance the healing process, and using a PRP injection for shoulder pain caused by rotator cuff tears, for Achilles tendon ruptures and for other soft-tissue injuries is becoming more common. Also PRP has demonstrated to improve function and reduce pain in people who have tendonitis or chronic tendinosis conditions such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. This simple outpatient treatment may help you recover from a painful sports Injury or chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis also.
A list of common conditions PRP can help are below:
- Acute injuries, like pulled hamstring muscles or knee sprains
- Tendon, tendinosis or ligament injuries, like Rotator cuff tears, Achilles tendon, Tennis elbow, Golfer’s elbow
- Joint injuries
- Skin Rejuvenation
- Inflammation reduction
- Hair thinning & Hair loss
- Post-surgical repair
What are the risks and benefits of PRP therapy?
Some of the key benefits of PRP injections are that they can reduce the need for anti-inflammatories or stronger medications like opioids. PRP is a concentrated source of growth factors and cellular signalling factors that may accelerate and improve healing in many tissues. Platelet Rich Plasma therapy is minimally invasive, non-surgical same day procedure with minimal recovery time. No general anaesthesia is required and most patients don’t need post-operative pain medication. You are fully awake and ready to go home within a few hours after injections in the affected area. As injecting PRP involves using a person’s own platelets, there are no adverse reactions to the PRP injections. However, it is possible that a person may have irritation, a temporary increase in pain levels, bleeding or develop an infection related to the injection site. If you develop symptoms you are concerned about please do not hesitate to contact us.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy and Treatment Procedure Step By Step
The procedure is performed in an out-patient setting and can take up to an hour to complete. The main steps of the procedure are outlined below:
- Blood sample is drawn from a vein in your arm. The amount of the sample depends on where the PRP will be injected.
- Your sample is spun in a centrifuge machine and as the name implies the platelet rich plasma is separated from the rest of the blood. The separation process takes about 15 minutes.
- The activated platelets concentrate is then injected locally into the treatment area and this releases growth factors that stimulate and increase the number of reparative cells your body produces and the healing can begin. Ultrasound imaging is sometimes used to guide the injection.
The number of injections required depends on the injury or condition, but can range from one to six injections which are performed at regular intervals.
What are the necessary preparations before PRP procedures?
First, in order to determine if you are a good candidate and will benefit the most from PRP treatment, you will need to schedule an appointment with our Clinic to have assessment done by our Consultant, who will review your case, medical records, blood tests & radio-imaging scans and determine if you qualify as a candidate for Medica Institute therapies.
The choice of treatment is then at the discretion of the Consultant and is based on your unique case. In certain cases it may be a combination of more than one treatment protocol. The options are: Prolotherapy, Stromal vascular fraction therapy and/ or Mesenchymal cell therapy.
It is important to make us aware of any medications you may be taking before coming in for the PRP procedure, e.g. any blood thinners such as Aspirin. We will advise you if you need to cease any medications at the time of making the appointment.
What can I expect after the PRP Treatment? When do I see results?
Most people can resume their normal activities almost immediately after having a PRP injection, however this will depend on your injury but generally speaking you should avoid vigorous activity for a few days after the injection. Going about daily activities is usually fine. The doctor may provide you with some simple range of motion and muscle contraction exercises to perform after the injection.
The first day after the treatment, you might experience mild discomfort at injection site which should not be restrictive, mild pain in the treatment area may persist for a day or two. This can be alleviated by rest and if needed simple pain killers may be prescribed. Do not use anti-inflammatory medication for two weeks after the PRP injection as it will interfere with the body’s self-healing abilities.
Since this therapy is an orthobiological treatment that requires time for the cells to restore the damaged or injured areas, patients will not feel the effect of the injection immediately. On average, most patients will start to see signs of improvement in the form of reduced pain or increased function within 30 days.
Improvement in one or two days is common. This is due to the strong anti-inflammatory effect that lasts from 2-3 months. From there, you can see continued gradual improvement as the treatment help provide healing to the affected area.
Injuries or conditions may or may not require repeat treatment. Most of the time repeat treatment is done because some improvement has been seen and more is sought.
Reviews of your progress may extend up to 6 months following the procedure. Reviews can be by means of a clinic visits or alternatively for your ease by video / phone call.
You will be asked during the period of follow up to keep an accurate record of your progress to compare to your starting point.
The final outcome of the treatment and extent of improvement varies from one patient to another depending on type and severity of the condition, age, etc…