Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) is one of the first real successes in the field of stem cell injections to help heal damaged cartilage and soft tissue injury (tendons and ligaments). The platelets mentioned are found naturally in the blood’s plasma and contain a vast amount of healing and growth factors.
The body uses these in its natural healing process, but not all areas of the body are able to make good use of these platelets due to reduced blood flow. Injecting a platelet-rich plasma sample into these areas can help provide relief.
What will Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy treat?
This therapy is used as a means of augmenting the body’s natural healing process to jump start healing in a damaged joint or soft tissue area. Nearly every joint of the body can gain some benefit from a platelet-rich plasma injection, along with soft tissue damage such as tendinitis of the elbow/rotator cuff or in the treatment of various ligament injuries. Since these areas have naturally poor blood supply, it is typical for them to not heal well on their own – something PRP can quickly correct.
How is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy performed?
This procedure is performed as a short outpatient procedure that can often be done in the comfort of the pain management clinic. The first step for the patient is to have a blood sample drawn, no more than the amount a simple blood work requires.
This sample will be placed in a centrifuge where it will be spun to separate the blood into its base component, two of which will be discarded. The third layer will be the platelet-rich plasma which will be used as an injectable for the patient.
The site will be sterilized and numbed with a local anesthetic prior to the injection. The needle will be guided into the problematic area of the joint through the use of fluoroscopic imaging (not always necessary). This is a series of X-rays taken of the area which will show exactly where the needle is at any given time, allowing the physician to inject with accuracy.
The blood is centrifuged down to PRP which takes 60 cc’s down to about 5-10 cc’s.
How well does Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy work?
Once the plasma has been injected into the patient, there will be swelling and some minor pain. This is a normal reaction and helps with the healing process. The platelets of the injectable also provide natural healing factors of the body, stimulating the healing of the area even further.
The PRP therapy provides growth factors and also pulls in stem cells from the body to help repair the damaged tissue. Recent studies have shown that degenerative arthritis responds well to the treatment, and tendonitis of the elbow and rotator cuff do as well. Patients are often able to avoid surgery with the PRP therapy, and athletes typically get back in the game faster.
What are the risks of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
There is no risk associated with a platelet-rich plasma injection beyond the standard risks of needle-based injections: possible reaction of swelling, infection, bleeding, or soreness at the site of injection. While there is a component of blood used within this injection, there is no risk of negative reaction as the blood is pulled from the patient himself.
Although some patients think the swelling that occurs following this injection is a negative side effect, it is actually part of the treatment process. It should fade within two to three days.
What is the bottom line with Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
In the treatment of degenerative arthritis, this therapy is a very safe and effective means of obtaining relief.
PRP often works great for Runner’s Knee (patellar tendinitis)
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Platelet Rich Plasma, contact Texas Pain Network today. The practice offers San Antonio pain doctors who are experts in all types of procedures such as PRP!
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!