Platelet Rich Plasma, PRP for short, is one of the most compelling areas in the field of regenerative medicine because of the multitude of applications that it has in healing the body. It is an area in which many different subfields in the medical community agree that the research into the field is promising and the applications currently in use showcase the positive movement towards the regenerative field. As we go on a journey into the entire subject of regenerative medicine, why not look at this therapy which uses a simple procedure using one’s own cells to help heal the problems of the body.
What is PRP?
Platelet Rich Plasma is a relatively simple procedure that can be done within the same day as a doctor and patient agree to this course of treatment. Many people think that this is something unusual because often patients must schedule lengthy procedures weeks in advance. That is one of the biggest benefits of the procedure as its simplicity and ease of access makes it a viable solution for people on tight time tables.
PRP is done through a simple process which involves a blood draw and then reinjection of the plasma from the blood itself. When most people think of human blood, the color red and any number of scenes from movies and literature can flood the mind. However, while the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets which make up the blood are important in day to day function, equally if not more important is the presence of the plasma itself. The liquid provides the greatest volume of a human’s blood in comparison to other factors and has a number of important properties for healing. During the treatment, blood is withdrawn and then the plasma is separated from the remaining matter to then be used for reinjection in the process. This means that the cells being used to heal the body are from that same body.
How does PRP Work?
PRP therapy occurs after the separation of the plasma from the blood. Due to the extremely high concentration of human growth factors in plasma, it provides a good catalyst for healing within any number of areas of the body. It can be used in joints, muscle tissue, and even the tendons themselves to heal injuries ranging from mild degeneration to advanced conditions such as neuropathy from diabetes. Through a series of injections concentrated around the core problem, such as a knee or tendon, the body sees the need to focus healing efforts their and works in a kind of healing matrix. This is the reason that many athletes are turning to the use of PRP as there have been several cases that show the benefits of the therapy in regard to strains, tears, and inflammation.
After the injection, patients are told to be careful with the site of the injection during the initial recovery period. For those individuals using PRP in major joints or muscle groups, it is especially important to keep as little strain on the regions as possible. This might involve a leg brace or a shoulder brace to try and help reduce impact on any given area. The PRP then begins to work and helps to act as a kind of reset button on the region with the growth factors working in tandem with the body itself to repair damaged tissue. In cases such as neuropathy in the feet, several injections along the leg and into the sole of the foot itself work in a similar way by acting as a kind of guiding path to help the body rebuild the structures that channel stimuli.
Does PRP hurt and, if so, how much?
The PRP treatment is a procedure that causes very little discomfort, although a small bit is to be expected. During the PRP treatment itself, numbing agents can be injected in the area where the plasma will be injected later which allows for an extremely small needle to be used to minimize discomfort. Additionally, a topical numbing agent can also be used so that even the initial injection of pain killer can also be relatively easy on even the most squeamish of patients. Once the PRP is injected, the patient is told to keep the strain on that area of the body to a minimum that day and as low as possible in the following days between injections. In the day following the treatment, some soreness is to be expected although still relatively mild.
How long does PRP take as a treatment?
The PRP treatment itself is something unique in many practices because it is a series of injections that are each quick and easy. When a patient comes in for PRP, they are often suggested to set aside an hour and a half in our clinic to give ample time. This includes the drawing of the blood, its preparation, the injection, rest time, and consultation with the physician. All in all, a standard treatment should take less than 90 minutes in and out the door, although some time constraints vary.
If PRP is being used to prep for stem cell or on its own, one or more injections will be needed depending on the circumstances. If multiple sessions are needed, they are often spaced at a week apart to allow the body to heal and continue with the regenerative nature of the therapy. For some clinics, such as ours, a full treatment of PRP followed by a round of Stem would be done over 4 weeks at one treatment per week.
What about results?
Results for PRP treatment, like any therapy, do vary although many people have rapid gains after a period of recovery and rebuilding. While the effects are not often immediate, it has been shown time and time again that PRP can show positive results for most patients in a matter of a few short months. Even compared to other treatments with long down times, PRP holds its own and at the same time excels because of lack of required time off from work or bed rest. People can go about their lives and let the body heal and rebuild itself one day at a time.
Treatment using PRP holds a good bit of promise for people from any number of backgrounds. Since it is a person’s own tissue, risks are minimal and hold little difference from steroid shots but without the negative impact that steroids can cause. If considering PRP, feel free to contact us or, if you are not nearby, another physician in your area to see if you might be a candidate.