Pain Care Treatment: Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) is the latest treatment that many professional athletes receive in order to heal and return to playing sooner. It is non-surgical, with quicker healing times and has been showing promising results for many conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, muscle, ligament and tendon strains, sprains and tears (Rotator Cuff, Patella, ACL etc), that have failed other conservative treatment.
PRP is “platelet-rich plasma”. This is also known as autologous blood concentrate APC. Platelets are a specialized type of blood cell that are involved with injury healing. With PRP, a concentrated platelet solution is injected into the injured area to stimulate healing.
Why does it work?
Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is blood plasma with concentrated platelets. The concentrated platelets found in PRP contain huge reservoirs of bioactive proteins, including growth factors that are vital to initiate and accelerate tissue repair and regeneration. These bioactive proteins initiate connective tissue healing: bone, tendon and ligament regeneration and repair, promote development of new blood vessels, and stimulate the wound healing process.
PRP works by recreating and stimulating the body’s natural healing process. In order to benefit from these natural healing proteins the platelets must first be concentrated. To prepare PRP, a small amount of blood is taken from the patient. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins and automatically produces the PRP. The entire process takes less than 15 minutes and increases the concentration of platelets and growth factors up to 500%.
When PRP is injected into the damaged area, it stimulates the tendon or ligament, causing mild inflammation that triggers the healing cascade. As a result new collagen begins to develop. As this collagen matures it begins to shrink causing the tightening and strengthening of the tendons or ligaments of the damaged area.
How is PRP done?
PRP can be performed in an outpatient surgery center facility or in the office. First, blood is drawn from the patient and placed in a special centrifuge, where the blood is spun down. During this process the platelets are separated from the red blood cells and are concentrated. The red blood cells are then discarded and the resulting platelets concentrate is used for treatment. During the time the blood is spinning in the centrifuge, the painful area is injected with a local anesthetic such as lidocaine, to numb it up. The entire pain management treatment takes approximately 30-40 minutes.
How often can PRP be done?
Typically, after the initial pain care treatment, patients are seen for a follow up in 6-8 weeks. Some patients respond very well after just one treatment. However, typically 1-3 treatments are necessary.
Patients can see a significant improvement in symptoms. This may eliminate the need for more aggressive treatments such as long-term medication or surgery, as well as remarkable return of function.