Platelet Rich Plasma Injections are used to stimulate healing using one’s own blood components. The physician will withdraw your blood, put the blood into a centrifuge where the platelets are extracted (platelets are now known to release healing proteins known as growth factors) and then inject that solution directly into the injured site using an ultrasound guided technique to ensure proper placement. These proteins then stimulate repair and regeneration at the site, offering the patient pain relief and quicker healing rates. In most cases, 1-3 injections are required.
PRP Injections can treat a number of conditions for the hip, knee, arm, shoulder, lower leg and feet. It is best to consult with your physician for a complete listing. However, below is an abbreviated list of conditions that can be treated with PRP.
Platelet injections are an alternative to surgery. Ideal candidates would be those who prefer a less invasive option to surgery or those who are unable to undergo a surgery. It also allows for a much quicker recovery period and is much less painful than a surgery.
It is important that patients considering this therapy find a doctor with experience in these types of injections. It is more likely to have a favorable outcome if the doctor administering the injections is experienced and skilled.
A large amount of growth factors are released at the site of injury upon injection. These platelets induce an inflammatory response to initiate healing. The platelets are able to restore tendons and ligamentous proteins as well as strengthen cartilage allowing it to become firmer and more resilient.
Patients usually tolerate the injection well. However, there can be soreness after the injection due to the PRP-induced inflammatory response. You can expect swelling and soreness during the first 48 hours post injection and are given pain medication to help alleviate the discomfort.
Most patients see some improvement within 2-6 weeks. The pain becomes less and less as the weeks pass with most clinical trials reporting improvement up to 6-9 months post injection.
Platelet injections are safe. Since you are using your body’s own blood components and there are no foreign substances being injected into your body, the injections are considered safe.
However there is some minimal risk involved. During research studies and clinical trials, the only risk noted was that the injection could cause an infection to develop. This is not unique to platelet injections, anytime a person undergoes an injection there is this risk. But because there are no foreign bodies being injected and there is no concern of disease transmission, this therapy is considered to be safe.
Using one’s own body as a healing mechanism is a relatively new concept in the world of medicine, and an exciting one at that. As therapies such as these begin to prove they are beneficial and effective, you will likely see similar therapies develop in other medical areas.
Patients with severe anemia, low platelet count, abnormal platelet function, active systemic infection or those with an active cancer are not recommended to be administered PRP.
As people seek out alternative options to surgery for injuries and other conditions, therapies such as PRP will become more in demand. Not only are patients excited about it but physicians are as well as it gives them more options to offer their patients. Treating patients with their own body components is revolutionary and more than likely just the beginning of these forms of treatment. Further research will occur and the use of these treatments will continue as long as they prove to be effective.