The human body has an inherent ability to heal tissue, but that healing capacity diminishes as we age. Even in younger individuals, the capability is slight in certain tissues, such as knee cartilage.
Certain conditions, such as degenerative arthritis, can cause severe joint pain, and traditional medical treatments may mask the pain temporarily, but not alter the condition itself. With the help of regenerative medicine and options such as platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), the ability to repair damaged tissue is improved.
PRP is an innovative therapy that is now gaining in popularity substantially. The procedure entails drawing blood from a patient and then spinning it in a centrifuge machine. This generates a layer of concentrated platelets and growth factors that can possibly reduce pain and regenerate damaged tissue such as tendon or cartilage.
What are platelets and what is their role in repairing arthritic and damaged tissue?
Plasma makes up the liquid part of human blood, and it contains red cells, white cells, and platelets.
Platelets play a vital role in blood clotting during an injury and with helping the repair process itself. Once activated, they start releasing proteins responsible for healing, called growth factors. When platelet rich plasma is administered to a person, these growth factors speed up the body’s normal healing capability and may push it farther than it would normally go.
How is the PRP administered?
The 1st step of the procedure consists of acquiring a bit of blood from the patient, similar to a simple blood draw. Afterwards, we us a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the blood.
The centrifuge process separates the blood into three components. The middle layer contains the heavily concentrated platelets and growth factors, and this is the part used for the procedure.
The 2nd step of the procedure consists of injecting the concentrated solution, rich in platelets to the area experiencing pain. Numbing medicine is used to relieve discomfort during the injection procedure.
We will simply inject the platelet rich plasma into the painful area, using ultrasound or x-ray guidance if needed. Once the affected ligament, tendon and joint is injected with PRP, it starts healing with normal inflammation as the first step.
How does PRP work?
Once the platelets are injected in the painful area, they start a powerful regenerative process. They start releasing growth factors, and these will increase blood flow to the area, and generate a healing process.
Also, the platelets and growth factors send out signals which calls in the body’s stem cells as well to promote healing. The damaged tissue is replaced by new cells, and the cartilage has the potential to be identical to what “God gave you”.
What types of medical conditions are treated with platelet rich plasma therapy?
Conditions that involve joint pains and ligament/tendon injuries are often excellent candidates for PRP therapy.
Here is a partial list of the conditions PRP helps considerably.
- Golfer’s elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Shoulder tendinitis and Rotators Cuff Injury
- Joint arthritis – hip, spine, knee, ankle, SI joint, elbow, wrist
- Headaches – Migraines, Occipital Neuralgia
- Soft Tissue Injury – Tendonitis, meniscus tears in the knee, ligament sprains.
- Sacroiliac Joint Pain
- Ankle sprains
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Muscle tears
Because of their immense effects in treating conditions related to tendon, joint, or ligament damage and pain, platelets are frequently used in treating athletes and quite a few have already used this therapy to speed up the healing processes in their bodies, so they could get back to playing at a very high level.