About Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections
When your body is injured, it attempts to heal itself through its own repair mechanisms. Thanks to modern technology, our providers are able to harness many of these innate healing mechanisms to jumpstart our body's healing processes. Found within our blood, platelet-rich plasma plays an important role in the healing of injuries, and can be used to help treat a wide range of orthopaedic conditions and injuries.
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What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Blood is a specialized body fluid, and is made up of four main components: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Platelet plays a key role in the process of wound and soft tissue healing, and can be divided into two categories - platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and platelet-poor plasma (PPP). While platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood, they also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.
After a blood sample is obtained from a patient, the blood is put into a centrifuge, which is a tool that separates the blood into its individual components. The sample is put through a "soft spin" to separate the platelet-containing plasma from the red and white blood cells, and then through a "hard spin" to further separate the plasma into platelet-rich and platelet-poor portions.
Once separated, the platelet-rich portion is extracted and prepared for use. PRP is given to patients through an injection, which may require the use of ultrasound guidance to assist in its precise placement. After the injection, a patient must avoid exercise for a short period of time before beginning a rehabilitation exercise program.
With a substantial amount of research supporting the efficacy of PRP, studies have found that PRP injections are able to improve function and decrease pain while accelerating the healing of many orthopaedic injuries and conditions, including acute and chronic tendon problems, as well as injuries to ligaments and muscles. Recent research has shown promising results in treating symptoms related to osteoarthritis, including reductions in pain and stiffness and improvements in knee function.
Performed in-office, PRP injections help many of our patients avoid surgical intervention and lengthy recovery periods. Since the procedure is performed in our office, there is no need for anesthesia, surgery, or other invasive procedures - not only does this save our patient's time, but also saves them money!
PRP is autologous, which means it contains substances that come directly from your own body. By utilizing your own blood, your risk of an allergic reaction occurring is greatly reduced compared to the use of other injectable medications, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid. While your provider may recommend resting the affected area after treatment, this is more related to the injury and less about your body's reaction to the PRP injection. In most cases, patients are allowed to continue their daily activities following treatment.
Many of our patients feel significant pain relief after their first injection, but the extent of the injury or damage to the area may cause a brief delay in symptom relief. However, over the following days and weeks, patients notice the rapidly accelerated healing process occurring thanks to the PRP injection, and are back on their feet in days instead of months.