What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a non-surgical procedure used to treat pain caused by degenerative joint disease, ligament laxity, and musculoskeletal pain. This method involves drawing the patient’s blood, centrifuging the blood to isolate platelets and growth factors, and then re-injecting the solution into the site that needs treatment.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma used for?
- Musculoskeletal pain: shoulder, knee, low back, tight muscles, tendinitis, tendinitis, partial rotator cuff tears, trigger points.
- Joint Pain: shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, hip, knee, ankle, and toes.
- Degenerative joint diseases: osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, partial meniscus and labrum tears
- Ligament Laxity: partial ligament tears: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial/lateral cruciate ligament (MCL/LCL), and Sacroiliac (SI).
Why Platelet-Rich Plasma than any other treatment?
Many treatments, such as surgery or medications, have side effects and drawbacks. Orthopedic surgery is not always successful but is it permanent. Opioids, NSAIDs and other pain medications can not only be addictive but have long-term health consequences as well. Platelet-Rich Plasma is a noninvasive natural procedure with little risk to max benefit.
Does It Hurt?
A local anesthetic (lidocaine) is used to numb the area and decrease pain. Most patients tolerate the procedure very well with little pain. There is often some discomfort with the use of needles. It varies patient to patient. It helps to be in a relaxed mental state and to keep the muscles less tense. You may notice some discomfort over the next 2-3 days as the tissue heals and regenerates.
How does it work?
Your blood contains both platelets and growth factors that help heal and remodel your body. Areas like ligaments and joints have poor vascular support (blood flow). Due to the low amount of blood flow to these regions, subsequently, growth factors and platelets reach these sites in low concentrations. This results in areas having more significant pain and needing greater time to regenerate.
Average blood has a platelet concentration of about 200,000 per microliter. The Platelet-Rich Plasma can exceed 2 million platelets per microliter. By injecting the platelet-rich plasma into the treated areas, we are not only providing an area with little vascular support nutrients but also 10x the average amount. This leads to a decrease in pain, decrease in healing time, and increase the integrity of the structures.
When the platelet-rich plasma is injected into the body, the inflammation causes some cells in the area to be damaged. When these cells are damaged, they release cytokines. Cytokines are messengers to the body that something has gone wrong, and that growth factors and stem cells should be brought to the area to heal the damage. In this sense, platelet-rich plasma not only gives direct support through the platelets in growth factors in the solution, but it encourages the body to remodel the site that has been injected.
How long does the process take?
The actual process of injecting often takes 15 minutes or less. Time must all be allowed for the patient to have their blood drawn and centrifuged adding another 15-20 minutes. Total time is 30-45 minutes.
Can I see/feel results right away?
Many patients experience some form of relief after their first procedure. The location will be acutely inflamed for the first few days. After the inflammation decreases many experiences a decrease in pain and an improvement in symptoms. Depending on the severity of the conditions most patient notice improvement within 3-4 treatments.
Are there any risks?
This procedure and its solutions have been proven to be safe and rarely have complications. With the use of needles, there is a chance of an inadvertent puncture of arteries, nerves, spinal fluid, and lunges. Having a well-trained practitioner that takes the necessary precautionary steps will also limit the risk of complications.
When can I return to work or exercise?
This is an outpatient procedure and most patients feel comfortable returning to work the same day. Exercises should be limited for the first 24-48 hours depending on how your body responds to the treatment.