Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy for Treating Pain

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy for Treating Pain

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a non-operative, ground-breaking treatment options used to relieve pain through promoting long-lasting healing of various musculoskeletal conditions. PRP is used for sports injuries, back problems, joint conditions, and more. PRP therapy gives patients a permanent solution for healing.

What is platelet-rich plasma?

PRP is human blood that is spun down (centrifugation) and separated to produce a concentration of platelets above normal values. Platelets are cells responsible for clotting of blood. PRP produces growth factors that repair cells, augment tissue repair, and accelerates soft tissue healing.

What types of injuries are treated with PRP therapy?

PRP is used in surgery to repair shoulder rotator cuff tears, Achilles tendon injuries, ligament tears, and joint problems. This therapy also is used for chronic conditions, such as arthritis, spinal injuries, and musculoskeletal conditions. In addition, PRP is used for lumbar spine disc pain, tennis and golfer’s elbow, hamstring and hip strains, shoulder instability, ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and patellofemoral syndrome.

How does platelet-rich plasma work?

The blood is composed of 93% red blood cells, 1% platelets and plasma, and 6% white blood cells. Platelets are critical to injury healing. These cells are rich in connective tissue growth factors, which stimulate new tissue and body structure growth. In addition, platelets initiate repair and attract stem cells to the injury. Injecting PRP into damaged ligaments, joints, and tendons stimulate the natural repair process. The goal of PRP is to maximize the number of platelets while minimizing the number of red blood cells in the solution.

Does PRP treatment help to avoid surgery?

As with any treatment, the outcome and results are dependent on the extent of the injury. PRP is useful for mild arthritis but only works minimally with advanced arthritis. PRP, used along with stem cells, has been proven to delay the need for spinal fusion surgery and joint replacements.

How is PRP created?

Creation of platelet-rich plasma is painless, simple, and convenient. The entire process involves drawing blood, processing the blood solution in the laboratory, and injecting the solution into the injured body region. The centrifuge machine involves spinning the blood at a high speed to separate the blood components. Once the solution is prepared, the plasma is used in the treatment process.

How are PRP injections given and are they painful?

The injection visit takes around an hour. After blood is drawn, and the solution is created, the PRP is injected into the injured or damaged a body part. When structures around the spine are being injected, x-ray guidance is used to ensure safe, proper placement of PRP to the site. The number of injections varies, and this is based on the patient’s condition. Typically, 2-6 injections are one over a certain period of time. PRP injections are not painful, but there is an exacerbation period after injection where the structures are tender and sore. The recovery time is from 3-5 days following the injection.

Does platelet-rich plasma injections work?

In a study used to assess safety and changes of PRP injections for hip arthritis, 40 patients were treated. All patients had moderately severe hip osteoarthritis. In the study, 60% reported a significant reduction of pain, and 40% were classified as excellent responders. The researchers concluded the procedure was safe, effective, and tolerable for patients with hip OA, improving function and relieving pain.

Resources
Sanchez M, Guadilla J, Fiz, N, & Andia I (2012). Ultrasound-guided platelet-rich plasma injections for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip. Rheum, 51(1), 144-150.
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