The Body’s Amazing Ability to Heal Itself with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Some injuries take a long time to heal. Take tennis or golfer’s elbow, or even tendonitis. Standard treatments, like surgery, therapy, or medication, may not always work. Now there is an option for chronic pain that involves your blood to stimulate healing.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy—an innovative solution—has become very prominent in recent years and has been approved as a non-surgical solution. In 2013, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed PRP from the prohibited list stating, “Platelet-derived preparations were removed from the List as current studies on PRP do not demonstrate any potential for performance enhancement beyond a potential therapeutic effect.”1
Now this treatment is available to everyone! You don't have to be an Olympian or a professional athlete to benefit from this advanced procedure.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Our blood has several different components including plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. PRP is a concentration of platelets that can be anywhere from five to 10 times greater than normal. Platelets play a critical role in healing wounds, soft tissue injures and fractures. They can activate stem cells to regenerate new healthy tissue because they contain hundreds of growth factor proteins, which can speed up the healing process.
How do you get the platelets to make the PRP?
A small amount of blood is drawn from the person—usually at the elbow crease—in the same manner that one gets a blood test. The blood is separated in a centrifuge system for approximately 15 minutes.
The result is a separation of the blood into two layers, one red and other yellow. The yellow is the platelet-poor plasma, which is discarded. The red liquid—the platelet-rich plasma—is placed in a syringe to be injected in the appropriate area. The normal concentration of platelets in blood is about 6 percent, while a PRP injection is about 95 percent.
Who is a candidate for PRP?
Patients who suffer from acute or chronic injuries and pain can see results from the procedure. Treatment for tendon injuries, ligament and muscle injuries, osteoarthritis, or even plantar fasciitis can benefit from this procedure. Patients who suffer from tennis elbow have also seen amazing results with this procedure. Patients with spinal injuries like sacroiliac joint and facet joint may also be candidates for PRP Therapy.
Your doctor will review your medical history and current medications to determine if there are any potential risks involved with the procedure.
Athletes who undergo the procedure are able to get back in the game quickly. The regenerative nature of this non-invasive procedure can help heal an old injury with low risk.
How do you find the injured area?
A diagnostic ultrasound is used to pinpoint the injured area. If you have had an MRI done, the doctor will use that in correlation to the ultrasound.
Is the procedure safe?
The procedure is very safe. There are no side effects outside of the initial pain from the procedure. There are no manipulations or changes made to the components of your blood. There is no risk of rejection or complications because your own blood is being used for the procedure.
Is it painful?
There will be discomfort during the procedure. There could be some pain at the injection site. This is normal and is a sign of healing. The pain may last several days to two weeks. Most pain is handled with over-the-counter medication, like acetaminophen. Prescriptions for NSAIDs are usually avoided, as they may have an effect on the platelets. The use of ice is also avoided, as it decreases the blood flow to the area and actually slows healing.
How long does it take to work?
It will often take at least one to two weeks before you begin to see results from the procedure. It takes up to six weeks to see the full result from the procedure. Rehabilitation is often started about two weeks after the procedure is performed. Rehabilitation may include range of motion enhancement and strengthening to the injured areas.
If it doesn’t completely work, can the procedure be repeated?
Yes, most often the procedure works with the first treatment. However, there are times when additional treatments are necessary, depending on the injury and the overall health of the patient.
Craig D. Sternberg, M.D., FAAPMR • Physical
Dr. Craig Sternberg has been helping patients get better faster for 30 years in Delaware. As a partner at Delaware Back Pain & Sports Rehabilitation Centers, he works with a multidisciplinary team of physiatrists, chiropractors and a psychologist. He currently sees patients at the Omega and Glasgow offices, as well as the newest location in Middletown.
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