5 PRP Questions Answered NOW!July 15, 2019
PRP: Platelet-Rich Plasma Joint Injections
If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain due to injury or osteoarthritis, you may have tried multiple medications or be on a wait list for surgery. While these treatment options have their place, and may provide some relief, often they come with multiple adverse events, or negative side effects.
An alternative to medications and surgery is platelet-rich plasma joint injections (PRP for joints).
What is PRP?
Platelet-rich plasma or PRP is part of your blood. Your blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
The plasma component of your blood contains many growth factors and proteins that are vital tools to healing damaged tissue. When we use your plasma for injections into the joint, it is causing a healing cascade in the body to repair damaged tissue.
How Does PRP for Joints Work?
If you’ve ever sprained your ankle, you know how frustrating it is! It seems that ankle sprains (and other tendon and ligament injuries) take forever to heal, especially when comparing them to a pulled muscle. The reason for this is because tendons and ligaments have a much poorer blood supply than muscles.
For injuries to heal, they require blood flow. All of our healing cells are actually a part of our blood. When you perform contrast hydrotherapy (applying ice packs and hot packs), you are creating a pumping mechanism to move the blood through the injured area more efficiently and at a higher volume to provide healing.
When you sprain ligaments (the tissue connecting bone to bone) or strain tendons (the tissue connecting muscle to bone) they get frayed, and have micro-tears in them. You’ve probably heard the term “a grade 2 sprain,” this indicates that the ligament has been damaged, or suffered an incomplete tear. A grade 3 sprain is a complete tear. Since these tissues do not have a very good blood supply, it takes a lot longer for them to heal on their own, and sometimes it doesn’t feel as if they’re ever as strong as they once were.
We can utilize PRP for joints by harvesting the platelet-rich and platelet-poor layers of the blood and injecting it into the damaged areas. We inject the solution over the areas of ligament and tendon attachment.
The process of the injection (damaging the skin) causes trauma to the body, stimulating the body to heal that area. By placing the PRP over the damaged tissue, we are providing the body with ingredients (proteins, growth factors) to heal that tissue.
This method of treatment, combined with physiotherapy exercises, can heal and strengthen the tissue a lot faster than just letting it rest.
How Many PRP Joint Injections Will You Need?
There is no one answer to this question. How many treatments you’ll need is dependent on the condition that we’re treating. If the condition is acute (new), you may only require one treatment, and if the condition is chronic (old, long-standing), you may require 3-4 treatments. The treatments are spread out one month apart.
The healthier you are – the better the results you’ll get from PRP injections. Since we are injecting your own plasma back into your body, the healthier you are, the better the results you’ll get.
You’re only as good as your blood.
Is There A Lot Of Down Time After Receiving PRP in Joints?
No. When we are injecting PRP into the joint to repair damage we want to continue natural movements of that joint. For example, if we inject your ankle, you are able to walk around on that ankle that same day. We do recommend avoiding strenuous exercise for 3 days following your injections. We also have exercises and stretches that we go over with each patient for each joint that we are working on.
What Else Can PRP Be Used For?
Indications for PRP injections:
- Chronic joint pain
- Torn tendons, ligaments, muscles
- Sprains and strains
- Anti-aging (wrinkles – face, chest, hands, neck)
- Scars (acne or other)
- Hair loss (men and women)