WHAT IS PRP?
Platelet rich plasma, commonly referred to as “PRP’, is a non-operative, permanent solution for conditions such as arthritis and ligament/tendon sprains and tears. Utilizing the body’s natural healing process, PRP therapy is a concentration of platelets that are injected into the damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints to promote tissue repair and accelerate healing. Platelets are rich in growth and healing factors which means, on average, an injured individual can get back to a pain-free life in four to six weeks.
PRP was made popular by professional athletes and weekend warriors through its treatment of season-ending symptoms including swelling, stiffness, inflammation, tenderness, and pain.
CONDITIONS HELPED BY PRP:
Platelet rich plasma injections are most effective for the following conditions:
- Lumbar spine disc pain
- Rotator cuff injuries, including partial-thickness
- Shoulder pain and instability
- Tennis and golfer’s elbow
- Hamstring and hip strains
- Knee sprains and instability
- Patellofemoral syndrome and patellar tendonitis
- Ankle sprains
- Achilles tendonitis & plantar fasciitis
- Knee, hip, and other joint osteoarthritis
- Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and pain
- Lumbar and cervical facet dysfunction and pain
Additionally, PRP can be effective for many cases of osteoarthritis by stimulating healing of cartilage and reducing pain and disability. This includes:
- Knee arthritis
- Hip joint arthritis
- Shoulder arthritis
- Ankle arthritis
THE BENEFIT OF PLATELET RICH PLASMA TREATMENT, A NON-OPERATIVE OPTION
PRP presents patients with a long lasting, permanent solution that will not wear off over time as with a traditional pain injection. For this reason, the use of PRP could help a patient avoid joint replacement surgery, and potentially back surgery. With any treatment option, the effectiveness of the treatment depends upon the severity of the injury.
Many traditional, non-operative treatment options concentrate on relieving pain, without fixing the underlying cause. Get to the root of your problem today — schedule an initial consultation with a specialist at Virginia Spine Institute.
HOW IS PRP CREATED?
Creation of PRP is simple, painless, and conveniently done at an office visit. The entire process of drawing blood to solution preparation only takes approximately 25-30 minutes. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient, just like a routine blood test.
Once the blood is drawn it is then placed into a centrifuge. The centrifuge is a machine that spins the blood at high speeds in order to separate the blood into red blood cells and concentrated platelets.
Once the blood is separated the red blood cells are discarded, and we are left with concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) which is ready to be used in the treatment process.
HOW ARE THE PRP INJECTIONS ADMINISTERED? ARE THE INJECTIONS PAINFUL?
The injection process does not take more than an hour, which includes the creation of the PRP as explained above. The platelet-rich portion is collected and injected back into the injured tendon, ligament, muscle, joint, or disc that has been determined to be a source of pain and is not-healing appropriately.
When structures around the spine are being injected, x-ray (i.e. fluoroscopy) guidance is used to assure safe and proper placement of PRP at the affected site. In the extremities, ultrasound-guidance is commonly used to inject PRP into the appropriate tendon, ligament or joint that is being targeted.
Injections are performed under image guidance to assure precise placement of PRP. The number of injections varies based on each patient’s individualized condition but typically range anywhere from two to six injections done over time. Patients typically experience significant reduction in pain after the first or second injection.
Generally speaking PRP injections are not painful; however, the discomfort level depends on the part of the body being treated. Injections into the joint are of minimal discomfort. There is sometimes a small amount of pain after the procedure; however, this does not last more than a few days and can be minimized with over the counter Tylenol. It is critical to avoid anti-inflammatory medications such as Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex, Naprosyn, and Mobic. These drugs may impede the healing process.
WHEN CAN I EXPECT TO FEEL BETTER?
The benefit to PRP therapy is that unlike other treatments it has a sustained outcome and is categorized as a permanent fix.
The timeframe for experiencing results is dependent upon the area of injury and the extent of the injury. On average, most patients start to see signs of improvement in the form of reduced pain or increased function within four to six weeks.
Continuing a well-designed course of physical therapy and avoidance of aggressive physical activity or overloading the injected tissues is advised in the weeks that follow the injections. This is done to allow the tissues to heal best.
ARE THERE RISKS WITH PRP?
Overall, PRP is an especially safe treatment option with no risk of allergic reaction because it is your own blood. However, anytime a needle is placed in the body, there is a risk of infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. These risks do not happen often and are very rare. Other risks depend on the area being treated. If you are unsure of the risks of your specific condition, consult your physician.
In general, PRP is not considered a first line treatment and is usually considered after other more traditional treatments have failed.