PRP injections are recuperative measures which both doctors and patients are exploring. Keep reading to learn more about the medical use of platelet-rich plasma.
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In this article:
- What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
- How Is PRP Created?
- What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
- Why Are PRP Injections Important?
- How Do PRP Injections Work?
- How Are PRP Treatments Injected?
- Where Are PRP Injections Administered on the Body?
- Who Should Consider Undergoing PRP Therapy?
- When Will I Fully Recover from PRP Injections?
- How Long Does It Take for PRP Treatment to Take Effect?
PRP Injections: Promote Wound Healing and Recovering with Plasma Therapy
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Blood is mainly plasma, a form of liquid which contains tiny solid components (platelets, white blood cells, red blood cells).
Platelets, which help in clotting blood, also contain proteins called growth factors. These proteins are important in the process of healing injuries.
Platelet-Rich Plasma or PRP is plasma which contains a higher number of platelets than what’s normally found in the blood. The platelet concentration of PRP and the concentration of growth factors is 5 to 10 times richer than normal.
How Is PRP Created?
To develop platelet-rich plasma (PRP), blood must first be drawn from the patient. Doctors then separate the blood cells from the platelets.
The process of centrifugation will then increase the platelet concentration. This platelet-rich concentration will be combined with the remaining blood from the blood sample.
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy or PRP therapy utilizes a patient’s own concentration of platelets to help speed up the healing process of injured muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
PRP treatment injections are prepared by extracting one or a few tubes of the patient’s own blood. The samples are run through a centrifuge in order to concentrate the platelets.
The activated platelets will then be directly injected into the affected body tissue. The injections will release growth factors which stimulate and increase the number of reparative cells that the body produces.
Why Are PRP Injections Important?
PRP injections have been found to significantly improve and enhance the body’s healing process. Using PRP for soft-tissue injuries, like rotator cuff tears and Achilles tendon ruptures, is becoming more common among patients.
PRP therapy can also improve bodily function and reduce pain in patients suffering from chronic tendinosis or conditions like tennis elbow.
Research is currently being conducted to evaluate and study the effectiveness of PRP treatments. According to the studies currently reported, PRP injections are most effective in treating chronic tendon injuries.
Much of what we know about platelet-rich plasma therapy has mainly been about the treatment of acute sports injuries, which include ligament and muscle injuries. PRP therapy has been used in treating professional athletes suffering from common sports injuries like knee sprains and pulled hamstring muscles in the thigh.
In recent treatments, platelet injections have been used during certain types of surgical operations to help patients’ tissues heal. PRP has also been applied during surgery performed to repair torn knee ligaments and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
How Do PRP Injections Work?
Platelets have several important roles to play in the body. These blood cells promote blood clotting so one does not bleed excessively when they’re wounded.
Platelets also contain proteins or growth factors which help wounds heal. Studies show that injecting areas of tissue damage and inflammation with platelet concentrations can encourage repair.
The PRP treatment is carefully injected into the affected area. For example, the injections can be administered for Achilles tendonitis, a condition common in tennis players and runners. The heel cord can become inflamed, swollen, and painful.
A mixture of local anesthetic and PRP treatment can be injected directly into the inflamed area or tissue.
After, the pain in the injected area may increase for the first week or two following treatment. It may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial, recuperating effect.
PRP injections may also help improve healing after surgery.
Athletes who undergo an operation for a torn heel cord may support recovery through PRP injections. In this case, doctors prepare the PRP treatment in a special way which will allow it to actually be stitched into torn tissues.
How Are PRP Treatments Injected?
As soon as the patient’s Platelet Rich Plasma concentrations have undergone the process of centrifugation and prepared for injections, the treatment can be administered. Some doctors may opt to add an activating agent like calcium chloride or thrombin, while others choose to just inject the platelet-rich plasma.
The quantity of PRP and the number of injections needed may vary per treatment. Most doctors will perform just one injection, but other times PRP treatments are given as a series of injections over several weeks.
Patients may feel some discomfort from the blood extraction and the actual PRP injection. Both procedures will require piercing a sterilized needle through the skin.
Anesthetics can be given to help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with platelet-rich plasma therapy. The joint or muscle pain relief from a PRP injection is not immediate.
Here’s what you can expect from a typical PRP treatment injection process:
- A healthcare professional draw a blood sample. The sample amount needed depends on where the platelet rich plasma treatment will be injected.
- The blood sample is placed into a centrifuge, a machine which spins around very quickly, causing the components in the blood to separate. This process takes around 15 minutes.
- A technologist will then take the separated plasma and prepare it for injection into the patient’s affected area.
- Doctors may use imaging, like ultrasound, to pinpoint the specific areas for injection.
- Overall, PRP injections will usually take around one hour.
Where Are PRP Injections Administered on the Body?
PRP injections are injected directly into the injured or diseased body tissue. Sometimes, doctors will use ultrasound imaging to guide the injection.
The activated platelets will release growth factors that stimulate and increase the number of reparative cells the body produces.
Because Platelet Rich Plasma Injections are popular for treating both acute and chronic soft tissue injuries, injections are typically administered in the joints, ligaments, and tendons of the:
Who Should Consider Undergoing PRP Injections?
PRP injections are recommended for people who are suffering to injuries in their muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments. It’s also beneficial for people who would rather not opt to take anti-inflammatories drugs or stronger medications like opioids.
One of the benefits and advantages of PRP injections is reducing the need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Furthermore, the side effects of PRP injections are very limited since the treatment was prepared from the patient’s own blood.
When Will I Fully Recover from PRP Injections?
When the PRP treatment is injected following an injury, doctors will recommend rest the affected area. The recommendation for rest is more related to the actual injury more than the platetel rich plasma injections.
Most people can continue their daily activities following PRP injections.
How Long Does It Take for PRP Injections to Take Effect?
PRP injections are used to promote growth cells and healing, so there may be no immediate effect or difference after receiving the injections. But, in several weeks or months, the area can be observed to heal faster or grow more hair than you would normally expect.
Learn more about PRP injections and how they work in this video by Dr. Sagar Patel:
PRP treatments are paving the way for alternative and safe treatments for common muscle and joint injuries. These treatments are a mechanism in helping the body repair itself.
More research is still needed to explore further benefits and possible disadvantages. But based on what we know so far, PRP injections will provide tantamount benefits to the medical research field.
Would you undergo PRP injection treatment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!