Famous athletes such as Tiger Woods and tennis star Rafael Nadal have made headlines by turning to platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) to help them recover from injury. Doctors are now using PRP for many reasons. While PRP therapy may not work for all conditions, studies have shown that it can play a role in the treatment of soft-tissue healing. PRP treatments essentially give the body the ability to heal itself through amplifying natural growth factors it uses to repair tissue.
But what exactly is PRP therapy, and could it work for you? Below we answer some of the most common questions associated with PRP therapy and shed some light on this relatively new treatment option.
What is platelet-rich plasma?
Plasma is the liquid portion of our blood. Other than plasma, our blood contains small solids, including red cells, white cells and platelets. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are best known for the important role they play in clotting blood. However, platelets also hold hundreds of proteins called growth factors that help with the healing of injuries.
Platelet-rich plasma is plasma with a higher concentration of platelets, and therefore growth factors, than what is typically found in blood. The level of platelets in PRP can be 5 to 10 times greater than usual.
How does PRP therapy work?
PRP therapy works through injections of the patient’s own PRP. First, one to two tubes of blood are drawn from the patient. The platelets are then separated from the other blood cells, and the concentration is increased by running the blood through a centrifuge. The platelet-rich plasma is then injected directly into the tissue of the injured area. The PRP releases growth factors that will increase and stimulate the number of reparative cells your body produces.
What conditions can be treated with PRP injections?
PRP injections can treat a multitude of areas and conditions. Its helps speed up the healing process of injured ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints. Specific conditions that can be treated with PRP include:
- Tendonitis/chronic tendon injuries
- Ligament and muscle injuries
- Nerve damage and injury
- Back and spine conditions
- Non-healing wounds
Ligaments, in particular, can take a long time to heal, making PRP an attractive option for those who have experienced injuries to this tissue group.
What are the side effects of PRP injections?
PRP injections use a patient’s own platelets and therefore do not usually cause any adverse reactions. A patient may experience temporary pain, irritation or bleeding near the injection site. Most patients resume normal activities immediately after having PRP injections. The entire process from blood being drawn to the injection itself takes under an hour.
Find PRP treatment in the Triangle
At Cary Orthopaedics, our doctors seek to treat patients conservatively, without surgery, whenever possible. PRP injections serve as a minimally-invasive treatment option for many patients to aid in reducing or eliminating pain. PRP therapy is just one of a whole array of options we offer for the effective treatment of injuries.
To find out more about PRP therapy and the types of conditions it may effectively treat, contact us today.