One of the most common interventional orthobiologic procedures in use today is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. You might have heard friends, family, or even professional athletes raving about this procedure, as it has the potential to significantly strengthen the bodies ability to repair and heal soft tissue injuries. While the procedure has been around for a very long time, particularly in the field of veterinary medicine, it has recently made a major entrance into the field of musculoskeletal treatment. However, it is a very nuanced procedure that should be fully understood by practitioners before they endeavor to offer it to their patients; seemingly small changes to the composition of platelet-rich serum can have major impacts on the procedure’s effectiveness, and the injection regimen should be calibrated to each patient’s individual needs.
What Is Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a medical procedure during which a physician draws a patient’s blood, processes it, and then reinjects it under imaging guidance with the goal of using the healing properties of these cells to support tissue regeneration. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) describes the end product of a mechanical process through which the blood is extracted and refined to create a serum with a much higher concentration of platelets than that which is found in unprocessed blood.
Platelets, which have long been known to play a role in the clotting process that the body uses to slow and stop bleeding, have recently been recognized for the role they play in the healing process. This is largely due to the hundreds of proteins called growth factors they contain, which promote healing and fight inflammation. The use of imaging guidance–whether it be ultrasound or fluoroscopic–to accurately reinject this prepared, highly concentrated mixture of healing cells to the site of injury, platelet-rich plasma therapy can reduce pain and inflammation and accelerate healing without the need for major surgical intervention.
Benefits Of PRP
In addition to its ability to promote healing and drive recovery, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has a number of key advantages over more traditional treatments, including surgery. First, the procedure is minimally invasive, so recovery time is minimal, and there is little to no scarring, which many patients appreciate. Second, because there are no incisions made during the procedure and it is performed under local anesthesia, it has a drastically reduced risk profile in terms of serious complications, including blood loss, infection, and the myriad side effects of general anesthesia. Finally, preparation of the final injection does not require additives or chemicals, so there are no foreign substances of chemicals being introduced to the body during the procedure.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy can significantly enhance the healing process for a wide range of injuries and condition. It can be used to manage many soft-tissue pathology, including:
- Chronic tendon injuries, including tendonitis and tendonosis;
- Acute ligament and muscle injuries;
- Rotator cuff strains, sprains, and tears;
- Tennis elbow;
- Golfer’s elbow; and
- Many other tendon, ligament, or muscle injuries and conditions.
However, there are a number of factors that go into determining whether or not platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is right for a patient. If you believe you might benefit from this revolutionary procedure, the first step is to schedule an appointment with the team at RestorePDX today. We will help you understand your condition, evaluate all of your treatment options, and choose the best path forward to recovery.
What To Expect With Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)
After performing a detailed history and physical examination, and interpreting the results of the various necessary diagnostic tests–including musculoskeletal ultrasound, x-ray, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)–your physician may determine that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a viable treatment option for you. Here’s what to expect during the course of the procedure:
On the day of your treatment, someone will draw blood from your arm, just like you are undergoing routine lab work.
The Blood will be placed in a centrifuge machine specifically designed for producing a platelet-rich plasma serum. The physician will decide how concentrated the platelets need to be, and make any other adjustments to the composition of the serum.
After the separation and concentration process is complete, your physician will administer a numbing agent over the site of your injury in preparation for the injection.
Once you are numb, your physician will use an imaging guidance modality like ultrasound to guide the injection precisely to the site of injury and then, once they are confident the injection is placed properly, inject the preparation.
Recovery After PRP Injection
Because platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is minimally-invasive, it is performed in the outpatient setting, and you will be sent home on the same day as your injection. Depending on your injury, you may be asked to wear a brace or splint of some kind, and you will probably be asked to modify your activity levels for a few days or weeks following the injection. You may experience pain and soreness at the site of the injection, but you should not be in significant pain. You will follow up with us a few weeks after your injection to make sure everything is progressing to plan.