What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), Therapy, & How Can Patients Benefit from Injections?

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PRP (platelet-rich plasma) refers to a preparation made in a laboratory from a patient’s whole blood where growth factors are concentrated and then injected back to the same patient so as to stimulate healing.

PRP comprises two elements, including plasma and platelets, a kind of blood cells, which play a vital role in healing throughout the body.

Platelets are also popular for their clotting capabilities, though they also have growth factors, which may stimulate tissue regeneration and trigger cell reproduction.

In order to create Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, clinicians will need to take blood samples from patients and place them into a device referred to as a centrifuge, which spins samples to separate other blood components from platelets and concentrate them with plasma.

PRP Injections

Everyone from individuals at work or gym to professional athletes is turning to regenerative medicine treatments, such as PRP injections, to help with tendon tears, joint pain, and deterioration.

According to , PRP therapy uses the mechanism of the body for healing to turbocharge recovery and as a complement to traditional treatments, such as: 

  • Surgery
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
A doctor is giving Injections in the knee of a person - Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

How PRP Therapy Works

Platelets serve as helper cells, which will come to your rescue when you get an injury. By binding to the damaged blood vessels, platelets usually form blood clots, which serve as Band-Aids so as to stop bleeding.

Platelets also have growth factors, a kind of protein that helps repair tissues, reduce inflammation, and grow new cells. It is believed that these growth factors help stimulate healing in certain situations.

In addition, the platelet-rich portion of plasma has the capability to stimulate the growth of tissues. This is particularly helpful for:

  • Degenerative problems
  • Muscle strains
  • Fascia irritation
  • Tendon damage
  • Surgical heart procedures
  • Cartilage injuries

Using PRP Therapy

The main aim of this therapy is to use platelet plasma, which has gone through the process of increasing platelet concentration.

These platelets have secretions that initiate the repair of injured muscles and support the recovery of the surrounding tissues, making them perfect for medical treatment.

Doctors discovered the effectiveness of therapy application after observing how the body responds to broken blood vessels or flesh wounds.

What was particularly observed is that platelets usually form blockages so as to stem blood loss. Afterward, those platelets initiate white blood cells to repair tissues at the tear or injury sites.

Orthopedic treatment for injuries also depends on this principle and is more suited to treat muscle injuries or tendons. In this case, doctors will inject PRP into injured areas to repair.

What Happens After an Injection?

Some patients will experience pain for one or two weeks after getting an injection. This is referred to as ‘post injection flare,’ and it’s normally nothing to be worried about.

It also doesn’t mean the injection may not be helpful to patients once the first discomfort settles. Doctors normally try to avoid using local anesthetic so that the injection site may feel a little sore for one or two days.

While some patients may want to consider going home after their injection, driving home is not practical or appropriate since the tendon or joint will be painful.

If you get injected, try to avoid strenuous exercises for the first five days, even when you feel comfortable doing so. This includes loading activities and taking part in heavy impacts.

Risks of PRP Injections

As with other kinds of injections, there are risks of injection, bleeding, and pain. When platelets come from a patient who will use them, they are not expected to have risks of cross injections or trigger allergies.

However, one of the major limitations of PRP products is that preparation in every patient might be different. 

Understanding the composition of the therapy requires measuring a lot of different and complex factors. This variation basically limits people’s understanding of how and when PRP therapy can fail and succeed.

Time Recovery for a PRP Injection

When you’re injected with PRP, your doctor may advise you to rest. Though these recommendations are less associated with PRP injections and more with injury.

Since PRP injections are intended to facilitate growth or healing, you might not be able to notice an immediate difference after receiving an injection.

In a few weeks or months, the injury area will start healing faster and growing more hair than you expected if you didn’t receive the injection.

Who is an Ideal Candidate for PRP Treatment?

Research studies are carried out to determine PRP treatment for various conditions. Some factors affect PRP therapy’s effectiveness, including the patient’s general health, nature of injury (chronic or acute), and specific part of the patient’s body getting treated.

Basically, PRP treatment doesn’t work for every individual. Plus, it works for some individuals better than others.

Clinical studies have also shown mixed results for PRP therapy use in handling osteoarthritis. However, it works best, especially when combined with other types of treatments, such as physical therapy.

PRP and Osteoarthritis

There are a lot of questions surrounding the studies, which showed promising results for platelet-rich plasma therapy in minimizing pain in OA (osteoarthritis) of the knee.

However, there is a lack of clarity concerning the preparation, number, and frequency of PRP injections required and the mechanism explaining how it works in the body, which patients can see benefits.

More research is required to evaluate the efficiency of PRP and clarify these vital concerns. Due to these issues, PRP is currently not advised in the guidelines of the international OA treatment.

What Other Conditions Can PRP Injections Treat?

PRP injections may treat many conditions and a multitude of areas. Apart from osteoarthritis, other specific conditions, which PRP injections may treat include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Spine and back conditions
  • Nerve injury and damage
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Muscle and ligament injuries

The Bottom Line!

PRP, in general, is a promising treatment for individuals experiencing hair loss or tissue damage. However, there are still some controversies revolving around this kind of treatment.

Regardless of these controversies, many medical experts believe that the treatment facilitates the healing process of injured parts, including ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Plus, it works better when incorporated with exercise programs preceded by a professional, like a physiotherapist.

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