What was once an exclusive treatment reserved for high-level athletes, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are now recognized as beneficial for a variety of injuries and are available to anyone suffering from chronic tendinitis, ligament strains, and joint injuries. While it sounds like something out of a futuristic science fiction movie, PRP therapy is actually simple science that uses your body's own healing powers in a concentrated form to help you—literally—heal yourself. How does this work? Is it for you? Learn everything you need to know about PRP injections here.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
Whether you are aware of it or not, your body is constantly healing itself. From fighting off infections with antibodies to producing growth factors that heal injuries, your body is doing what it can to keep you functional and pain-free. Sometimes, however, your body can use a little help to speed up the process and get you back on your feet. Platelet-rich plasma injections do just that. Your blood is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Platelets not only function to clot your blood when you are cut, but they also contain proteins called growth factors that work to heal injuries.
Back in the 1970s, doctors figured out that they could increase the platelet count in blood to use in transfusions for patients who had low platelet counts. In the 80s and 90s, surgeons started using this formula to help with wound closure after a surgical procedure. For over 20 years now, PRP has also been used by orthopedic surgeons in sports medicine to treat athletic injuries.
Today, it is a fairly simple in-office procedure that takes a small amount of the patient's own blood, puts it in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from other blood cells, and then injects the platelet-rich plasma into the patient's injured tissue. This plasma has five to ten times more platelets than a normal blood sample. The higher concentration of growth factors in PRP can speed up the healing process.
When Is PRP Therapy Used?
PRP injections can be used to treat a chronic injury or to improve healing after surgery. If you have chronic tendinitis, a pulled muscle or ligament, or a sprained knee, for example, your orthopedist might recommend PRP therapy to reduce inflammation and speed up healing. In these procedures, your PRP is carefully injected into the injured area under local anesthetic. After several weeks, many patients experience reduced swelling and less pain. PRP injections are also used during tendon or ligament repair surgery to boost the body's ability to heal damaged tissue.
What Kinds of Injuries Can PRP Injections Treat?
When rest, stretching, and physical therapy are not effective in treating strains, sprains, and chronic pain, your orthopedic specialist might recommend PRP injections to promote healing. At Northwest Extremity Specialists, we have successfully used PRP treatment in patients with the following:
- Soft tissue injuries. Muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, hamstring pulls, and torn ligaments can be treated with PRP injections. These kinds of injuries can take months to resolve on their own, but PRP can get you back on your feet faster.
- Postsurgical care. After a joint replacement, tendon reattachment, or muscle repair, your orthopedic surgeon can use PRP injections to accelerate healing.
- Osteoarthritis. In some cases, PRP can be injected into the cartilage of an arthritic joint to reduce inflammation and pain. It can be a more effective treatment than cortisone shots.
Whether PRP injections are the right treatment for you can be determined by an evaluation of your symptoms and a review of the treatments you have already tried.
Interested in PRP Injection Therapy? Contact Northwest Extremity Specialists
Whether you are an avid tennis player with tendinitis, a roofer with a bum knee, or a retired athlete with osteoarthritis, PRP injection therapy might be a treatment that can ease your pain and speed up the healing process so that you can get back to work, play, or relaxation more quickly. Call us today at 503-245-2420 to make an appointment in the Portland-area office closest to you.